written by:
December 10, 2011
Originally published in Prefab Perfected

The revamp of Clover—a new fast-food joint in Harvard Square—complements the original interior and hidden skylight of the Josep Lluís Sert–designed building from 1966.

Clover fast-food joint in Harvard Square

Clover Food Lab, a vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began as a group of food carts. Recently, however, it opened stationary digs in the Holyoke Center, designed by Josep Lluís Sert, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Clover’s founder, Ayr Muir, hoped to affect a dash of social change through the marriage of high design and healthy grub, so he turned to John Hong and Jinhee Park, principals of SsD Architecture. The low-budget build-out revealed a smorgasbord of Sert’s stunning original details. cloverfoodlab.com

A. Brick of the Trade

In tearing out the office that previously occupied the space, the architects discovered the original brick floor, which extends to the sidewalk in fine modernist–cum–Harvard Yard fashion.

B. The Sandwich Network

Electronic sandwich boards display the menu and aver­age prep times. Orders are placed with iPod touch–wielding waiters on a network designed by Muir and coded by MIT students.

C. Growing Up

Beneath the skylight, a mounting patch of ivy creeps upward along the brick back wall, trained along a matrix of steel cable and aluminum rods from Home Depot.

D. Table Manners

The massive log that comprises the central communal table was milled in west- ern Massachusetts. Rows of herbs offer privacy and delineate the eating space.

E. D-I-Ply

Hong and Park searched for seats under $60 but in the end decided to make some themselves. The benches and chairs are simple, geometric plywood.

Dwell Kitchen: Pear-Parsnip Soup

Pear parsnip soup from the Dwell Kitchen

For those who can’t pop down to Clover on their lunch hours, Muir offers us a winter-in-New-England recipe from his kitchen that is bound to educate the “parsnip illiterate.”


  •  1 tsp. canola oil
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  •  1 pound parsnips, roughly chopped
  •  1 medium potato, roughly chopped
  •  2 quarts vegetable stock
  •  1 bay leaf
  •  1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped
  •  ½ pound pears, unpeeled, cored, roughly chopped
  •  ½ cup half-and-half (optional)
  •  Salt and sugar to taste
  •  Splash of white-wine vinegar

Cooking Method:

  1. Heat a soup pot on medium-high heat.
  2. Add canola oil, garlic, and onion. Sweat for 10 minutes (be sure not to brown the vegetables).
  3. Add parsnips, potato, vegetable stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Simmer about 10 minutes.
  4. Add pears and half-and-half and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and blend soup until super-smooth.
  6. Season to taste with salt, sugar, and vinegar.


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