Miracle of Science Bar & Grill
321 Massachusetts Avenue
Open Daily 11:30am-1am
I must have walked by Miracle of Science Bar & Grill on Massachusetts Avenue at least a hundred times, but didn't know it until last week. It took my fiancée, who doesn't even live here anymore, to tell me about this place and why we should eat there when she came to visit on her spring break. Apparently, the restaurant is famous enough that her friends in the Midwest suggested we try it out, and I'm glad they did. It's a fun little restaurant with good food, a nice atmosphere, and reasonable (if not for everyday) prices.
Despite the construction that always plagues Mass. Ave. (and reached right up to the front door when we went there), Miracle of Science has a pleasant, urbane sophistication to it. Even though it's on the small size, it felt like a homey place from the first moment we walked into the triangular-shaped space. It's the kind of place you'd feel comfortable taking your family, hanging out at with friends, or suggesting to your advisor when he or she wants to take you out for drinks. Being a science-y area and all, the menu is displayed in a periodic table of elements, with the columns and rows having similar properties (chicken dishes vs. beef dishes, appetizers vs. entrees, etc). It was cute in its own nerdy way.
We picked a table near the bar where we could see up the street (away from MIT, thank goodness), and wondered what to have. The waitress, friendly and attentive even though the place seemed packed, suggested we try a skewer dish (like a shish kebab). After a couple more minutes of thought and beer (which always helps with decisions), we decided on a chicken skewer dish ($10) and a regular ol' hamburger ($7.50).
Overall the food was pretty good, though nothing really to write home about. The chicken was tasty and exotic (or, at least, more exotic than our usual fare), and came with a great blend of sauces and garnishes. I personally don't like too much going on in my mouth, but my fiancée loved the interesting interplay of foods not normally eaten together. My burger, on the other hand, was not too exotic but still very good. Too many restaurants that should really know better suffer from what I call "bad burger syndrome." This syndrome generally causes otherwise nice restaurants to inexplicably fail at producing decent burgers, either overcooking them or combining ingredients that are at odds with each other. So I was relieved when my burger was juicy, well-cooked, and didn't just taste of charcoal.
The food was good, the service was fine, the atmosphere was enjoyable, and even the view was nice. Are we going to eat there all the time now? Not unless we win the lottery (or, at least, get real jobs). $10 for the chicken, and $7.50 for the burger (which was smaller than what get at the more economical Cambridge Grill), plus a couple beers at $4 each, and it's a pretty expensive little lunch. And, due to the limited menu and the small size, it doesn't seem like this would be a really great place for dinner, either. I've since heard that the real greatness of Miracle of Science is their bar, that you can just talk for hours while getting great drinks at regular prices and having a good time; that may be the case, but it looked like a regular bar to us.
Miracle of Science is a good place to know about and have on your radar. You should eat there at least once during your tenure at MIT and keep it in mind when others are willing to pay for you. And, who knows, maybe you'll find that the blend of tastes or the fabulous bar service easily justifies the extra cost. Just so long as you actually know the place exists.