Archive for the ‘Contemporary American’ Category
Location: Lynn, MA (See on Map)
The Foodie: Recommends
In the history of this blog, I’ve taken you far outside the city limits of Boston in pursuit of good food. We’ve flown out of Logan together multiple times – remember those hotdogs in Chicago, those lobster rolls in Portland, the ceviche in Lima? Remember our pastries and romance in Paris (hehe)?
Well today, my friends in wanderlust, I am magically sweeping you off your feet to…well, Lynn.
After winding our way up the majestic Route 1, we found ourselves in downtown Lynn and settled into our seats at the Blue Ox – today’s destination dining spot.
As you might imagine, this neighborhood spot in Lynn didn’t enter my food dar by way of Thrillist, Eater, or other local food bloggers even – it landed on my “To Try” list the old school way – through the word-of-mouth grapevine. Which is fitting given the fact that chef/owner Matt O’Neil got his culinary career started on Martha’s Vineyard before manning kitchen battle stations at No. 9 Park, The Butcher Shop, and Copia.
Together with his wife and chef de cuisine Guaracyara Pimenta (aka “G”), Matt has an immensely popular, unpretentious, and fun thing going on in Lynn.
Their menu is eclectic and melds together your favorite gastropub, Italian joint, and salty New England seafood spot down by the wharf.
For those solely interested in food pictures and a brief blurb on the dishes – The highlights of my eating experience here were as follows:
- Fried Maitland Mountain Farm Pickles, grilled lemon & thyme aioli, and aged balsamic. One of the best beer pairings I’ve ever tasted, delightfully juicy, well-spiced, and nicely fried. These picklers are actually based out of Salem, FYI. If you like the pickles, you can get them in a spicy martini here too.
- The Blue Ox Burgers. Seriously in the running for my Top 10 Burgers list of 2013, these are two quarter-pounder sliders stuffed with gorgonzola dolce, topped with applewood smoked pig strips, and slathered in lemon/thyme aioli. Served on a fluffy brioche bun with fries and another awesome MM F pickle. The best part about these burgers is that the gorgonzola basically explodes into your mouth as you bite hungrily into your slider. Seriously exciting. Delightfully unique.
- Lobster Tacos. Served in grilled tortilla with avocado, diced tomato, scallion, chipotle aioli, and lime.
Other stuff that caught my eye for the next time here:
- Spicy tuna tartare with cucumber, scallion, cilantro, chive cream, chili sauce and house-made chips
- Blue Ox clam chowder with bacon, Tabasco, chive
- The “Sin” burger with bacon, swiss, and truffle aioli
- Pan roasted cod with wild mushroom risotto and fennel arugula salad
In the end, similar to Paris, Lima, and Chicago – the Ox was well worth the journey. I’m beginning the think that I should continue expanding my local radius outside of Boston, Cambridge, and the ‘Ville to keep bringing you hidden gems outside the city proper.
Get ready – you might be hearing soon about places in Lowell, Framingham, Milford, and who knows where else?
Build meat burgers, and I will come.
Location: Cambridge, MA (See on Map)
The Foodie: Recommends
Here on Nick The Foodie Boston, my meals are typically the main form of entertainment that I speak of. When dining out at Metro Boston restaurants, the small plates or appetizers serve as my opening act, the main plates my main show, the dessert the encore.
But this time, my compatriots, things are different. I actually will write about something other than food.
Oh no I di-int. Yes I did. I spent an incredibly fun night at the new Sinclair restaurant and show venue in Harvard Square. The Sinclair sports a good-sized “Kitchen” and an intimate space for concerts. Here’s a snapshot of upcoming shows that look worth attending (and aren’t sold out yet):
- Kishi Bashi
- Patrick Watson
- The King Kahn & BBQ Show
We saw the very first comedy show here and were cracking up the entire time – I haven’t laughed this much since Seinfeld, Something About Mary, It’s Always Sunny, Billy Madison, and the Chappelle Show…speaking of which – the main comedy act of the night was Neil Brennan – Dave’s co-creator for the show and co-writer on the stoner classic Half Baked. Brennan’s opener was a local act named Jenny Zigrino – who is a legitimate rising talent and one of funniest female comedians I’ve ever seen.
So there you have it – I led a review with a subject other than food. I’m sweaty, my hands are clammy, and I’m a bit light-headed. I’ve gotta throw some grub in here to revive myself.
So the Sinclair concert venue is housed through a separate entrance than the restaurant. The Sinclair Kitchen exists to feed hungry adventure-seekers prior to their music and entertainment next door. And they do a pretty good job at that. The menu delivers a solid lineup of pre-show supper items, including:
- The Sinclair Burger – Thick patty, soft bun, watercress, basil aioli (nice touch), and secret sauce – could just make my Top 10 list of 2013, we shall see.
- Steamed Mussels – with red curry and lychee (trust me, it works)
- Pastrami’d Pork Belly Sliders – a gut and artery coagulant that is no doubt tasty
- Crispy Fried Oysters
- Shellfish Gumbo – with crispy rice and Andouille saucisse
- Grilled Octopus – gigante beans and chorizo
- Kale Salad – golden raisins, parsnips, sunflower seeds
- Roasted Local Beets – honey, thyme, hazelnuts, goat cheese mousse.
We sampled the roasted local beets, burger, and mussels and were quite pleased with all three. Though the Sinclair offers a pretty “safe” menu of time-tested, tried-and-true recipes and loses innovation points for things like Gianonne Farms Chicken, Steak Frites, and a Veggie Burger – they do pull all these things off with quality and a bit of style and flair.
So don’t expect something you’ve never seen before on the menu – but DO expect a well-executed and tasty munch pit before your mosh pit.
TIP: Ask your server to snag you some tix while eating if you plan to see a show after dinner and they’ll oblige.
Alcohol flows freely at both the restaurant and show venue, which is cool. Beer selection is, again, safe (think Harpoon, Miller Lite, ‘Gansett) but with a little flair (Pretty Things Jack D’Or).
So there you have it – good reliable food and good solid shows. Two doors. One roof. The Sinclair.
Location: Boston, MA (See on Map)
The Foodie: Recommends
The Brothers DiBiccari just nailed a medium-rare skirt steak in the ground on Congress Street in the burgeoning Fort Point ‘hood.
It tastes good.
THE LOOK: I don’t usually dwell on the décor or ambiance of my chosen feasting grounds, but Tavern Road sports a ‘smart,’ ‘modern,’ ‘clean,’ ‘stylish,’ joint with a l’ull artistic flair.
THE COOK: Louis DiBiccari has an impressive resume that includes L’Espalier, Sel de la Terre, and the Herb Lyceum. He is also the secretive mastermind behind the infamous “Chef Louie Nights” that are one part Iron Chef, one part Pop-Up, and one part Awesome.
THE FOOD: My friends, the menu here reads like a carnivorous foodie’s last meal. There are small tasting dishes of charcuterie items that include lardo, duck prosciutto, and smoked ham. The “first courses” take on the small plate format and feature pork, lamb meatballs, steak tartare, and smoked fish belly. There are a few dainty greens thrown in here and there as well.
A feature called “Today’s Animal” includes one meaty dish ginned-up on the chef’s whim. When we ate here, said animal was a house-made sausage of duck, veal, and pork that made my heart skip a few beats (now and when I turn 65).
=======Dramatic Porchetta Monologue=========
Let me pause right there for a moment. Porchetta is a skin-on slab of pork belly wrapped around a trimmed center-cut pork loin and seasoned with herbs, fennel, and citrus. Done properly, this masterpiece is first assembled before resting 1-2 days in a fridge, and then slow-roasted in the oven. The beautiful porchetta served at Tavern is a generous round slab of herbed-crusted, crispy-skinned, tender-as-hell pig that will linger on your taste buds and strum on your soul strings for weeks (nay months) after entering your food zone.
Back to the menu. Innovatively, the main events are served without sides and the diners are left to choose between an assortment of dishes to share amongst the table. Sides include braised kale with raisins and pine nuts, spaetzle, and creamy grits with an egg on top (my favorite).
As if all that wasn’t enough, Eater Boston reports that Tavern Road will soon have a take-out operation hitched to the side of the restaurant that will be serving plates on the go that are inspired by street foods of the world.
MY MOOD: After enjoying a hearty man’s meal and washing that down with craft beers, I felt happiness, tightness in the stomach region, subtle glee, good cheer, and slight fogginess in the brain area at the hand of Pretty Things Baby Tree.
A nice addy to Fort Point as this corner of the city becomes more of a destination for food lovers. Come to Tavern Road for the porchetta, today’s animal, lardo, beer and creamy grits. Feel like I did.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
–“Men of New England, I hold you to the doctrines of liberty which ye inherit from your Puritan forefathers.” –
The puritans left England to practice what they believed without persecution. Like the intense cult-prone adventurers who first developed the new world, Will Gilson has sailed out into uncharted culinary territory with his new restaurant to worship the demigods of lamb belly, jamon iberico, and bone marrow on his own terms.
I am here to tell his story.
While I’m pretending to be an historian, I’ll throw a little more history atch’ya – a local business called Puritan Cake Company once occupied the space that now houses this immaculate new temple of gourmet righteousness. In fact, the new owners will even present their interpretation of the cake once produced here in little bite-sized pieces at the end of your meal.
I open this review with a lesson of our past, for, in Churchill’s words: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Gilson, it appears, was paying attention during his “ye olde volume ‘o cooking history” class in culinary school. The menu at Puritan & Company shows deference and respect for rustic New England favorites while taking a few chances with cuisine from other regions and incorporating interesting twists on the foods of our forbearers. This is also a restaurant strongly grounded in the fat of Massachusetts soil – with goods sourced from Savenors and The Herb Lyceum (the Groton farmstead owned by Gilson’s family).
Now, without much further ado, I present to you my analysis on my flavor fave dishes from Puritan that I had the joy of eating from our charcuterie table seats:
The softest, buttery brioche roll you will ever taste – topped with some amazing lightly-shaved sea salt. Washed down with a Peak Organic dark nut brew made specially for Puritan that involves a little ginger and honey from the Herb Lyceum.
Something called Gougeres. I’ve never seen these in France (assuming they’re a French dish), but wherever they hail from these things are awesome. Lightly-toasted warm balls of wonder stuffed with rosemary and cheddar mornay. Tasted like a gourmet cheez-it.
Rare Jamon Iberico freshly shaved from a $1,200 hock of cured ham sitting by the charcuterie station. Lightly nutty, smooth, and tender.
“Swordfish Pastrami.” One of the most unique and inventive plates on the menu, this dish incorporates spiced strips of smoked sword, cannelles of chilled mustard cream, brussels, and pumpernickel essence. Amazing.
Bone Marrow Gratin. Easily one of the best dishes on the menu here, Puritan’s bone marrow is beautifully plated on a bed of hay and roasted with an array of herbs, butter (surely) and garlic. Spreading a little of this gelatinous goodness on a slice of torched duck fat brioche was literally one of the best things I’ve done all year.
Lamb Belly. Probably the other “must try” dish on the menu here in addition to the marrow, lamb belly is similar to pork belly in terms of the presentation and texture, however it comes with an added gaminess and earthiness that is matched wonderfully with an orange + moxie sauce. I’ve never had anything quite like it but I loved it.
Clam Chowder. Pure genius. Your server will bring over a sexy-looking lineup of clams sharing their shells with a little friend named fried pork belly. A warm creamy broth will then be poured over the bowl from a pitcher. Totally creative.
Wood-Roasted Muscovy Duck – A solid classic bird paired with quinoa, wild mushrooms and thyme.
Order any of these dishes and your stomach will thank you like a pilgrim feasting on a freshly-cooked turkey.
A few words on a singular Puritan plate that, while risqué and interesting – misses the mark a bit. Lamb chop and lamb sausage. This ends up looking like a funny giant lamb lollipop. A bunch of ground lamb sausage is packed around the chop and just becomes overwhelming to eat (plus a little dry – it’s gotta be tough to cook right). If there is one dish on the menu I would replace – it would be this one. Instead – put a game bird, rabbit, wild boar or some lobster on the table!
On the whole, Puritan & Company really nails it. The restaurant itself is beautiful and will surely be a success with an array of very well-executed dishes that are unrivaled elsewhere.
The first settlers of the new land knew that they were on to something when they laid the first foundations of a society free from sexual misconduct, blasphemous words, and witchcraft. I thank Chef Gilson for bringing a few spoonfuls of sin back onto New England soil.
Location: Once named Petapawag
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
Yes, I have a dirty habit of secretively clinging to some of my more exclusive dining experiences while simultaneously bragging about them here on the blog. But hey, we all have our foibles.
Plus, there’s always Google if you are inspired enough to track down the source of a mystery review. Or, you can unabashedly support my ego by pleading for the answer via the bird or the lower-case f.
Like the last mystery review, this one was inspired by a restaurant that combined exclusivity, farm-to-table cooking, and culinary intimacy.
We hopped in a car and drove on three or four highways. We passed by the relatively unmarked locale in the dark a few times before reaching our final destination.
The time: 6:45. We were told to arrive promptly. Dinner is served only on Friday and Saturday nights.
The menu: Shown below. They had me at “duck cracklings”
The scene: There are many reasons why this town founded by the great John Tinker was worth visiting for a three-hour dining experience at said mystery establishment. Here are a few:
- Seasonally-inspired, farm-to-table cooking in an environment where the chef personally introduces each course and answers questions about their approach
- Six courses of exquisitely-executed food for $60. A steal for the quality you receive here.
- A rare BYOB establishment. We sported a 2005 Premier Cru Bourgogne from Domaine Michel Gay et Fils for the occasion.
- Small capacity, communal-dining format housed in a refurbished carriage house on the grounds of a farmstead.
- The place is run by a family powered by a passion for sharing good foodstuffs.
The food: Painstakingly prepared, creatively concocted – unique dishes with a nod to tradition. Duck smoked to succulent perfection. Apples reduced over the course of several hours to caramel. Parsnip and pear married into a rich and creamy soup. Careful thought applied to create a quintessential late Fall meal. Others we spoke with throughout the evening had been here five, six, seven times and said the cooking never falls short of spectacular. Observe:
The people: Unlike other eateries, our mystery locale will seat you at a large table with other hungry food lovers. Yes, there will be an expectation of that thing called “socializing” in which you will meet other human beings and communicate verbally. You can also bring a larger crowd and occupy one of two tables that seat six to eight individuals to solely exchange words with your own circle.
We loved the communal slant on everything though. Got a chance to meet the owners, our chef for the evening (a seasoned vet with several restaurants under his belt), a group of musicians, and a fellow blogger who writes an approachable, personal, and funny healthy living blog that can be found at sweatygirl.net. Our table mates laughed at our jokes, shared in our food joys, and overlooked our curious weird-nesses. For that we love them. The shared dining experience confirmed my believe that good cuisine is only enhanced by good chummeryTM
Excellent food, BYOB, reasonable price, intimate setting, awesome chef, farm-to-table, creative technique, social interaction – you understand my desire to keep this one under relative lock and key, right?
Location: Watertown, MA
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
This place is an enigma. A beautiful enigma. It’s also one of the most unique dining experiences you will have around Boston.
How do you manage to order at a restaurant that can be described by the following attributes?
- The name is Strip T’s, and the spot is located in a homely corner of Watertown.
- For 25 years, they were a friendly neighborhood shop serving a lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, and soups. Think Greek Salads, Po’Boys, etc.
- Recently the owner’s son returned from his gig as Chef de Cuisine at the one-and-only David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC to take over the menu.
- The dinner has been revamped and includes an incredibly eclectic array of upscale Asian influences, down-home Amuuurican fare, and New England favorites. Now think things like haute burgers, fried chicken, banh mi, oxtail, maitake mushrooms, etc.
- An emphasis is now placed on locally-sourced ingredients – think chalkboard list of suppliers, fish caught by spear (seriously), farms incorporated into menu item descriptions.
As someone who usually makes a beeline to a singular menu item that sings straight to my foie-gras clogged heart, I was more stumped with my selection at Strip T’s than anywhere else in recent memory.
I mean – do I go with the traditional grub like a burger, thinking that the son added a little Momofuku magic dust to a classic dish?
Or, do I swing East, thinking that our new chef wields a Shun well and shuns the old Strip T’s food in favor of inventive Asian cooking?
Or, do I try something zany and not particularly in line with either of these lines of thinking – like smoked trout with corn, 5 minute egg, rye, and chanterelles; or creole boudin “etouffee” with shrimp, scallops, and root vegetables?
Really – it all sounded good.
- First: Grilled romaine with succulent braised oxtail, perfectly poached egg, and a zingy chili ‘vin’ (which is apparently a cool way to say dressing). This dish really had a little bit of all the flavors and textures I most appreciate: meaty, smoky, charred, rich, spicy, complex, juicy, and crispy. Best dish of the night.
- Second: After much, much agonizing I settled on the creole boudin, which was an incredibly tender sausage stuffed with creole rice and split down the center with plump little scallops and shrimp perched atop. The sausage wonder was swimming in a light stew with finely julienned root veggies, and man did it all have a nice flavorful “kick” to it. In the end, I loved this deconstructed slice of Nawlins.
- Second (part deux): No, I did not gluttonously eat two mains. My dining chum ordered the much more dainty and Eastern-influenced roasted tautag, which was a spear-caught mild white fish in a bowl with kohlrabi “noodles,” lightly fried clams, eggplant and pistachio. Though a much different mouth-feel (yes I’m a fouchebag) than the boudin, it was sophisticated and well-executed (yes I watch too much Food Network).
- Third: We were treated to some sort of special ice cream with coconut cake and sweet cream topped with cacao nibs. Felt nice and cooling on my tongue after the whirlwind of flavors hitting my buds all night.
And you know, now that I mention it, there was a veritable whirlwind of flavors being served up at Strip T’s. Chef Tim appears to have the rare ability to magically transport his diners through the rustbelt, the deep south, and the Asian subcontinent while still weaving in a lil’ bit of Watertown, MA.
Is this the beginning of a new trend in the restaurant biz? Has the pop-up been replaced by the all-out takeover? Will our local Greek gyro joints, college pizza shops, and fried-rice-slinging Chinese buffets be reinvented by inspired chefs who add a bit of their own influence while staying true to the roots of the kitchen space they have now inhabited?
What should we call it? Burgers and macquisitions? Muncher capital? Perma Pop-Ups? Private Chef-quity?
Typically I gush forth every savory detail of my dining experiences to my loyal coterie of devoted readers.
This is the exception.
I’m going all nautical on your asses and only supplying the coordinates of my dining locale…if you are interested enough you will get in Sherlock mode and solve this mystery yourself.
Like a Dan Brown novel – this is going to be a page-turner filled with twists, turns, and biblical secrets.
It started with a long car drive. Then a scenic ferry boat ride. Then a confused walk through small streets…then we arrived at a little-known paradise.
To continue on with my food riddle, I’ll simply show and describe the foods available to us at this mystery locale. Please note that the bulk of what is described below came to us from within a five mile radius from a farm owned by the mystery dining spot.
- Light Puff Pastries at Teatime – Our first indulgences were assorted light phyllo pastries filled with chicken, goat cheese, and caramelized onions. Washed down with warm tea this rivaled a quaint cottage in the English countryside.
- Fresh Local Oysters – Beautiful, refreshing, salty, and smooth bivalves harvested a mile away and served up for a buck a piece. Delightful.
- Salad of Fancy Greens, Chevre, and Sunflower Seeds with Citrus Champagne Vinaigrette – Light, delicate, and a perfect starter to the miracle that lay ahead.
- Salad of Summer Squash, Toasted Pine Nuts, Parmesan Reggiano, and Lemon Vinaigrette – Another excellent prelude to our main course and clearly made with local ingredients.
- Lobster Bohémienne
In the middle of eating this dish, I paused, took a kneeling position on the floor near our table, and thanked the Lord for this bounty provided to us. J/K LOL All tween social nomenclature aside, this was simply one of the best lobster dishes I’ve ever had – prepared simply steamed atop a heavenly sauce of cognac cream, parsley, and lemon. Mini soft baguette and corn on the cob completed the plate. As the last breath leaves my body, I will think of this dish.
- Desserts of Caramel Apple Crisp with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Maple Walnut Ice Cream Both home-made. Both felt like being tucked into bed as a 4 year old.
- Breakfast of Homemade Granola, side of Lamb Sausage.
We awoke in the morning (no we did not sleep in the restaurant, there were beds nearby) and enjoyed a light breakfast of excellent house-made cereal and two small links of lamb sausage produced by the farm.
Before we knew it, our mystery eats were exhausted and we were on the ferry back home. As we journeyed back from this magical place, we recalled fond memories of hand-scrawled items listed on a chalkboard of fresh goods du jour, a homey yet stylish dining and drinking area, an intimate setting, and a food experience that will forever be etched into my mind.
There are few places like this anywhere – and for that, I wish to keep it a relative secret (while bragging publicly about what I ate).
Interested yet? Well break out that compass (or app equivalent) Columbus and you too can share in this wonderment.
Hit me on the ‘Chirp or the ‘Book if you think you’ve cracked the delicio code.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie Say: Cosi-Cosi
Like a blind date, a cult, or that new sub-prime mortgage – Park was promising at first but ended in tears.
Little too dramatic? Let me walk you through my mixed experience at the reincarnation of Redline – now a restaurant and bar in the gastropub mold (hasn’t that model been tapped out yet?)
- Positive reviews from the Globe
- 4-stars on Yelp
- Hip-looking location – the kind of place where you’d expect good food to live
- Decent crowd on a Friday night
Let’s start out with the positives of my dining experience here, shall we?
- Beer-snob worthy brew menu (think Pretty Things, Titan IPA from CO, Left Hand Milk Stout also from CO, and Spaten Lager)
- An entire page of whiskeys and other spirits
- A nice complimentary cheese and crispy flatbread cracker presentation at the start of the meal
- Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Holy shit. This was the best thing we ate at Park and had us riding high into the entrée round. Nicely-cooked shrimp atop Napa cabbage and bathed in a zingy jalapeno/salt/cilantro essence – had me wanting to sing “Shoop, shoop bay doop.”
What happened between the four bullets above and our main plates I’ll never know…did the “A” team chef finish her shift? Did we just order WAY wrong? Was it something we said?
Here’s what went down:
- I ordered the grilled Lamb Belly over summer succotash and Madeira. Sounded a little risky but I thought the upside could be heavenly if Park brought their top game to the kitchen. My risky investment ultimately turned out like a Facebook share. They made a mockery of the succotash by overdoing the fennel, and managed to kill a nicely-grilled lamb belly with an overtly bitter sauce that lacked anything resembling good flavor. Nobody in the kitchen had ever tasted this dish.
- My dining chum ordered the Roasted Half Chicken – something a little easier for the kitchen to handle than lamb belly. Somehow our bird was a little overcooked, lacked flavor, and was perched atop an ill-conceived panzanella salad (cucumber/tomato/balsamic-soaked bread chunks).
My overall assessment is that you should gladly park yourself at Park for beers and maybe a few snacks – but find another lot before moving on to the main dishes. Sadly the fate of many other g-pubs in town (think Saloon, Foundry on Elm, etc).
Like that new sales job promising millions once you “move up the pyramid” – Park’s entrée menu might just have your friends laughing at you.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
Watch out David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Michael Caine in The Prestige – there’s a new illusionist in town, and they rolled in with chef’s knives instead of a deck of playing cards.
Having opened their doors just a few weeks ago, West Bridge (which takes its moniker from the former name for the Longfellow Bridge) is really on top of their game right out of the gate without any smoke and mirrors.
I went into their sleek, modern, hip [insert another superlative from the food blogger’s dictionary] locale on a weeknight with a certain set of preconceived notions about another Cambridge spot serving up modern French cuisine with “a twist.” I had no idea what I was in for…sort of like when a magician says “I’ll need a volunteer from the audience.”
Here’s how West Bridge had me asking “How the f*ck did they do that?”
- Crispy fried chicken skins with aioli were the first item to hit our wooden table…at first glance you think some yuppie thought like “ooohhh, some new type of flatbread?” but in reality nicely-seasoned, crispy and (amazingly) flat thick crunchy slices of chicken sheath.
- Appetizer of red quinoa, favas, goat cheese, and what you’d think is bacon essence (but in reality soy-treated crispy shitake mushroom bits that will blow your mind). The vegetarian dish every meat-lover has always wanted.
- Radish Toast. If the quinoa was the meat-lovers vegetarian dish, this appetizer is the vegan’s prelude to hell. Just think…some unassuming leaf-eater orders this dish without realizing what “lardo” is. They bite into really nice sourdough toasts topped with baller butter, thin-sliced radish, wild mushrooms, some electron-sized greens, and this nice herby richness they can’t quite put their finger on…that’s right – you just sank your teeth into a nice layer of kingly pig fat.
- A Sancerre that was…get this…RED. Forget that crisp seafood-friendly white you gulp down with your fruits de mer…this was a pinot noir from the same region. Absolutely delicious.
- Duck liver terrine that was smooth as hell with a nice chutney and what I thought were chickpeas done in a way I’d never tasted before – salty and nicely crispy.
- Duck breast with hibiscus beet vinaigrette, black rice, and rainbow carrots. This sumptuous entree was like when you think you know how David Blaine did that card trick before he pulled your card out of his ass cheeks. Duck was nicely scored and treated very simply with just high-quality salt and pepper…perfectly succulent. But then carrots the color of the rainbow? Rice that was neither white nor brown? “Hibiscus beet vinaigrette?” Where am I? Outstanding dish.
The menu at West Bridge is sorta structured as follows:
- Hey, we know you’re probably coming here to get plastered on great beer and wine after work…but while you’re at it choose from at least ten amazing and generous-portioned appetizers to share amongst your project team.
- But if you’re here with your honey and want to bring some game – we’ve got four solid mains to choose from (plus a special of the evening)…whether you need veal, fish, or duck…we’ve got you covered.
- And if you just got a raise, announced your engagement, or lost your virginity, we’ve got some humungo “share-for-two” plates like cote de bouef, lamb shank, and (what’d I’d assume is) whole roasted chicken.
The staff at West Bridge has trained with the greats and learned from the masters. Co-owner Alexis Gelburd-Kimler was a former GM for Tony Maws at the old Craigie Street and the Exec Chef/Co-owner Matthew Gaudet learned his chops in NYC. Both hail more recently from Aquitaine Bistro, another excellent restaurant. The service was of course stellar – so good that you’d think our waiter (James) went to culinary school himself.
All these forces came together to give us the show of our lives. A fanstastical crew, a superb evening, a magical experience.
P.S. My duck breast levitated before I ate it.
Location: Somerville, MA
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
Life is a journey. The path isn’t always clear but sometimes we’re provided clues along the way. Just when we think we’ve experienced it all – something new comes along to surprise and bring us back to the present.
As if to say “We’ve seen the Way, and are putting it on a menu,” Journeyman presents just two simple options of a five or seven course tasting, with just cursory descriptions of each dish like:
But in reality, you end up floored with all kinds of gastronomical gotchas in each of those haiku-esque menu items, like:
- When we said XO Sauce, we meant house-made XO Sauce painstakingly cared for over the course of 6 months with house-cured bresaola and shrimp oil.
- Notice: your first dish is called “Alliums.” Curious? That’s the name for the onion genus. You’re going to get onions deconstructed countless ways on your plate, and yes, there will be caramelized onion ice cream.
- So, if we put “Lamb” on your plate it will typically be accompanied by a lamb foie gras mousse
- Oh, yeah, and by “goat cheese” we meant a light fluffy goat cheese mousse-like creation
- Did we write just “Steak” on the menu? Silly us, that is cooked sous-vide, tender-as-hell
- P.S. when we title your dessert “Bergamot” that means we made bergamot ice cream
You may also find yourself transported across multiple continents and religious gatherings with each passing plate, like:
- A Jewish family living room in Manhattan for Yom Kippur (Amuse bouche of house-smoked salmon, a deconstructed egg custard mixture and hard boiled quail egg)
- Tea time in a London hotel (Bergamot ice cream, orange-infused cake, toffee and walnut)
- A bagel shop on the Lower East Side (Allium starter that came together like the most decadent everything bagel with onion cream cheese)
- A Shanghai street corner food cart (Soft rice, black bean sauce, seared tender octopus, house-made XO sauce)
Travel with me for a few minutes:
As you may have noticed, they do things differently here – and you are guaranteed to leave having tried something you’ve never seen or tasted before. And I say that as a bartender climbs a wooden ladder to pick fresh herbs from the wall-sized garden that hangs at the restaurant window-front.