Russell House Tavern and Brasserie JO on Social: “You’re Doing It Right!”

February 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM (Customer Service, Food) (, , , , , )

Newsflash: I love and live on food, and I love and live on social. I hope you were sitting down for that, because I know it’s shocking. So naturally when I find fantastic eateries who are using social media beyond just tweeting what the daily specials are on occasion, I try to make a point of going back… again, and again, and again.

You're doing it wrong failGiven my 160-character background, it’s a sad sight when I see one of my watering holes or favourite brands join Twitter or Facebook and not use it to interact with fans or followers, choosing instead to use social as another one-way push platform. Luckily, I know of two wonderful establishments who do no such thing. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Harvard Square’s Russell House Tavern and Back Bay’s Brasserie JO.

One of my first visits to Russell House Tavern (@RussellHouseTav) was a result of my having a little time to kill and having tweeted with their chef, Michael Scelfo, once or twice previously. As I’m wont to do, I checked in via Foursquare and probably tweeted something about the incredible breadth of the beer list to both RHT and Scelfo. After a brief back and forth on the Twitter Tubes, I had the privilege to meet the chef himself (and sample some delicious sea bass) in-person. I don’t know if it’s just me, but meeting the folks responsible for spoiling my palate has always been a thrill. I’ve only met a handful in Boston, and 1.) it makes me feel important and appreciated, and 2.) I just like knowing the personality that goes into a menu. I’m a people person. What do you expect?

Russell House Tavern downstairs bar Boston CambridgeScelfo is definitely the heart of RHT, but there’s much more that contributes to my love of the place: the layout, the atmosphere, the management, and the bar staff (I’m sure the waitstaff is also wonderful, but I’ve never dined away from the bar). On more recent visits, I’ve met the folks behind the Twitter handle (specifically Tyler Titherington – lovely meeting you!) and learned to trust the beer recommendations from bartenders Adam and Lou (you have to ask because the variety on the menu will, in fact, blow your mind).

I’ve also learned that you can’t lose with anything on the menu, having tried something new every visit and never being disappointed. Recent highlights: beef heart ravioli, burrata salad (the first time I ate my brussel sprouts!), bacon-wrapped paté, foie custard, and ox tongue meatballs. In short, Scelfo can do no wrong. This all said, I don’t think I ever would have visited unprompted if that online rapport wasn’t there, first. I’m not entirely a creature of habit, but I need a reason to try something new: a friend’s recommendation, an event, or even just an invitation to visit from a restaurant’s Twitter account – which leads me to my next social shout-out.

Brasserie JO (@brasseriejo) was actually the first restaurant I visited in Boston several years ago when I was still looking at colleges. Goodness, that was a while ago – so long ago that Twitter was still a lower-cased verb – but it was still a tasty experience (if you’re ever there for brunch, try the chocolate French toast). Fast-forward to when checking in on Foursquare is almost on par with breathing when it comes to my natural instincts. I had just done so at the Prudential Center (check in and, yes, continue breathing) when I received at at-reply from JO, suggesting that I stop in because it came @BostonTweet– and @eric_andersen-recommended – adding an #IWithThatWereTrue tag to signify the jest behind the latter end of the statement. I appreciated the chutzpah, and given that I didn’t have any concrete plans, I decided to oblige and swing in for a beer (and maybe some escargot).

After a few minutes at the bar and feeling a little cheeky, I tweeted back to them saying, “I’m here – where are you?” While whomever was responsible for the Twitter account wasn’t there, he or she did inform management that I was in the house, and I did get to meet some of the kitchen magic as well as one of the managers (sadly this was several months ago, so names have escaped me – this kudos is LONG overdue and I apologise). Oh, and I was also introduced to a divine charcuterie plate, but that relationship didn’t last long – relationships with fine cuisine rarely do.

Thanks to social, I’ve turned into one of those annoying consumers who gets cranky when brands on social don’t interact (see the beginning of this post). When a restaurant invites me in, and then rewards me for doing so, then yes, I’ll be more inclined to return. In fact, I’m pretty sure JO was the restaurant of choice during the following visit from the parentals – and again, one of the managers (I remember that time it was Annmarie Blythe) stopped by to say hello. “Getting a Twitter” just doesn’t cut it for B2C brands. Thankfully there are some great establishments in and around Boston who recognize that, and those of us who live online certainly aren’t going to ignore that when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.

Have you had an amazing experience with a local eatery, thanks to social? Let me know in the comments so I can check it out (let me know where the crappy experiences were so I can avoid those, too).

If You Go…

Russell House Tavern
14 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 500-3055
http://www.russellhousecambridge.com/

Brasserie JO
120 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 425-3240
http://www.brasseriejo.com/

Today’s Tunes
“Delicate,” Damien Rice
“Amie,” Damien Rice
“9 Crimes,” Damien Rice
“Dressed to Kill,” Landon Pigg

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