[I started this post over a month ago, when the dinner was only a week or old. Since then, some details have escaped my memory, but I think the essence of the meal has been preserved.]
Several weekends ago, L and I shared a very special meal at Bergamot. Since opening last summer, Bergamot has received a continuous stream of rave reviews. Most recently, Bergamot earned a spot on The Improper Bostonian’s 2011 “Boston’s Best” list, making its mark as the best new restaurant in Somerville. I don’t agree with some of the Improper’s other choices, but Bergamot was definitely a good call. Working there for the past few months, I can personally attest to the ocean of blood, sweat, and tears (my own included) that go into making that place–though don’t get me wrong, we at Bergamot know how to have a good time. I think the restaurant strikes a great balance between holding itself to a high standard and not taking itself too seriously. It prides itself on being a neighborhood joint, albeit one with outstanding food and service, both of which people seem to agree is among the best in Boston.
Mention Mr. Bartley’s and you’re bound to get a strong reaction from anyone who knows burgers in Boston. For me, the combination of cutesy burger names, long lines, and meat patties that are shaped more like baseballs than hockey pucks leaves much to be desired. Around Harvard, I would prefer to get my burger kicks from b.good or from Oggi a couple doors down, where you can get a a flavorful, juicy burger (with toppings of the day) minus the wait and bun overhang, for half the price. But sigh, Bartley’s is a Cambridge institution after all, so E and I decided it would be a fitting place to celebrate his farewell. I sure will miss the kid. My own time in Cambridge is winding down fast; mixed feelings about that, of course, but that’s a topic for another day.
Sipping his orange creamsicle frappe:
My iphone burger (better than any app. anytime) w/ boursin cheese, grilled mushrooms & onions w/ sweet potato fries.
Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage
1246 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
I recently had two marvelous meals at Hungry Mother and Harvest, two popular fine-dining destinations in Cambridge. I won’t go into too many details on a lazy Friday afternoon, but parts of each dinner that stood out for me included the duck leg confit appetizer and sturdy cocktails at Hungry Mother; and the rabbit with vanilla carrot beurre blanc and assorted mushrooms worked into the menu at Harvest. Peas and mushrooms are among my favorite foods, so spring can’t come soon enough. Both restaurants had been near the top of my to-go list of dining destinations since I moved here a year and a half ago, and I’m glad I can finally check them off. Other places I still need to hit up: Ten Tables, Rendezvous, Bondir, Menton, No. 9 Park. And P.F. Chang’s
Pics from Harvest:
Last weekend, L and I treated ourselves to a meal at Oleana. No reservations were available when I rang the night before, but I was cheerfully assured that if we came early, a table for two could happen; which it did. We arrived just before 6pm and were seated immediately.
The restaurant is partitioned into three dining areas: an intimate nook in the back and two rooms out front facing Hampshire Street. There is also an outdoor patio, outfitted with a fountain and fig tree, for warm weather dining. The subdivisions give the indoor space a very cozy feel; the lighting is earthy and warm without being too dim, and the fireplace lends an emotional intimacy to the experience. We started with drinks: a paopao for me and a white port cocktail for L. The menu is focused, ingredient-driven, and inventive, which made deciding both easy and difficult. For mezze, we settled on the olives with za’atar, Vermont quail with baharat, barberries & pistachio, and an evening special, sheep’s milk ricotta with sweet potato, almonds, bacon, white truffle honey, and an arugula and mandarin orange salad.
Last week I attended a small reception for the Flour cookbook. The eponymous Boston-based bakery and cafe is owned by Joanne Chang, a local chef who also owns the restaurant Myers + Chang down near Back Bay. The cookbook reception included a selection of cheese and spirits from Whole Foods and a pastry demo of Flour’s popular pop tarts.
Some very delicious cheeses available for copious consumption:
Read more, see more…
As my faithful readers know, weekend brunch is my favorite meal. So when EK and I were looking for a bite to eat before hunkering down for a studious Sunday afternoon, I suggested an early brunch at Upstairs on the Square. I had never been, but remembered this restaurant scored air time on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I ever Ate” pilot episode for their Eggs Benedict. Sometimes I wonder if culinary/dining tidbits have monopolized my memory space, since those seem to be the only pieces of information I retain.
Coffee and baked treats to start: coffee cake, petit cinnamon rolls. muffins, and scones. Cute but nothing special.
Continue eating “Spontaneous Sunday brunch…”
Outdoor food events may soon vie with weekend brunches as my favorite food-oriented activity, especially when they serendipitously fall on picturesque weekend afternoons. Sampling good food between sips of crisp autumnal air on sun-soaked city streets, mm. The Boston Local Food Festival from a few weeks back and the East Cambridge Rib Fest this past weekend have teamed up to convert me. The fact that such events are often conduits for supporting local charities and spreading awareness about important issues does not hurt, nor do the curious sitings that amuse (such as a passerby wearing an “I heart female orgasm” shirt). Last weekend’s Rib Fest featured ten Cambridge restaurants, including East Coast Grill and Hungry Mother, competing for various charities of their choice. You could only partake of the rib sampling with a taste ticket, which I did not purchase; but I snagged enough bites from J’s ribs to keep me satisfied. Had he voted, I believe he would have cast his ballot for Tupelo, perhaps the top cofo joint in Cambridge. He also took well to the Carolina-style (mustard-based) rib sauce from East Coast Grill.
The competitors and respective charities:
Continue eating “Smoke This Rib Fest”…
I recently wrote a guest post for my friend Alice’s blog, The Endless Potluck. I love the concept of her blog, and she writes some of the most engaging stuff I know (as she should, English super-student that she is ). Definitely check out her blog when you get a chance!
Chilled cod in sour cream with parsley and dill from our house potluck:
Not a shabby way to end the work week with RW dinner at Rialto.
Continue eating “Rialto”…
Having lived and worked in the area for almost a year, I have been to my fair share of eateries in Harvard Square. Without a doubt, my go-to sit-down joint is Border Cafe, with its margarita list, festive atmosphere, solid Tex-Mex, and complimentary, bottomless homemade chips. I’ve never had a bad time there, whether with one person or with ten. The only possible downside is that since it is popular, the wait can be a half-hour or more…but still worth it. Coffee @ Peet’s is another no-brainer. I haven’t been to the upscale places like Casablanca, Henrietta’s Table, or Rialto (though I have a reservation at Rialto for Restaurant Week!!), so I can’t comment on them. On the whole, though, I’d say the Square’s most appealing offerings are found in the casual, take-out places that cater to the students or university-affiliated people who work in the area. Competition maintains quality, and while some are more overpriced than others, the expense is easier to swallow when you account for the yapping tourists, street musicians, and panhandlers that provide ready entertainment should you decide to eat while people-watching outside ABP (and you should). Two of the wisest culinary choices you can make while in Harvard Square are the $6 burger at Oggi’s (comes with fries!) and the Sicilian pizza at Pinocchio’s (2 slices for $4.50, go with the tomato basil and spinach, ask for the corners, and extra-crisp). And on Monday nights from 6-8pm, you would be remiss not to get the $5 Margarita pie at Oggi’s. The one route I’d caution against is Bartley’s, unless you have a hankering for a particular Bartley’s burger that won’t go away, no matter how many Oggi burgers you try to chase it with. Though, once you’ve had the Oggi burger, which is juicy, flavorful, and served on a grilled bun with mixed greens and the topping of the day, I suspect you’ll pass by Bartley’s without thinking twice. Unless it genuinely delights you to eat burgers named after people, in which case Bartley’s can rest assured it has a monopoly on your business in this area.
Here’s a quick run-down of most of the other places I’ve been to: