Tag Archives: cocktails

West Bridge, Kendall Sq

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Where: West Bridge – 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

I haven’t spooned anyone in so long! Actually, that’s not true, I have been spooning like its going out of style but just haven’t polished up any drafts to a postable state in a while.

You know its been too long when you are writing about a menu item that no longer exist, as the case here at West Bridge in Kendall Sq. A colleague and I headed across the street from our office to West Bridge for lunch on one of those fall days where the sun was no where to be seen and the chill of the rain goes through you right to the bone. Obviously I got soup. And a glass of prosecco on tap. Just kidding, I would never do that during the work day…

I started with the Sunflower Chowder featuring a Woodbury clam as an ode to the traditional clam chowder. I had emailed Jared at West Bridge who told me that Chef Matthew Gaudet blends sunflowers into a familiar cream-based broth and finishes it with smoked pork shoulder. This chowder was… simply amazing. It was creamy and salty but not heavy. It was so damn good I regretted ordering a meal on top of this as I wanted another bowl. I don’t think a rainy day goes by that I don’t think about this dish. They also feature a larger portion for dinner, thank god.

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I then got the GLT, which is the item no longer on their menu. The GLT stands for Guanciale (an Italian style of unsmoked bacon), Lettuce and Tomato. Its a glorified BLT, which is probably one of my favorite sandwiches. It came served with thinly sliced fried chips and some pickled veggies. I loved the flavors of this sandwich but the Guanciale was a wee bit too fatty for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love fat, but this was Fatty with a capital F. Even putting aside my concerns about having a heart attack on the spot, I couldn’t eat more than half of it as it was just too much for me. I ended up wrapping up the other half and eating it later on a flight. It did travel well.

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Overall, the chowder was phenomenal, the service was great, loved the clean simple design of the restaurant, and they have prosecco on tap (so I hear). The sandwich was good but I don’t think I could get it again (and I don’t have a choice as they don’t have it on the menu anymore anyways) as it was just too fatty for me. I’m happy to have West Bridge just around the corner for many more lunches, dinners, and after work libations.

How did West Bridge measure up? 3.75 Spoons!

Area Four, Kendall Sq – Revisited

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Where: Area Four – 500 Technology Square Cambridge, MA 02139
When: July, 2012

Its really not easy working right across the street from Area Four. Its constantly calling my name tempting me to come over for lunch and, more often then not, cocktails. Like I need that extra temptation…

I’ve been to Area Four many times but this particular trip was worthy of another post. This is the first time I had been this summer so we were able to snag a table outside on the patio. I tried the Sparkling Malbec which was really lovely, especially on a warm summer day. It was much like a Rose – light, refreshing and not too sweet. After cocktails we started with their famous Garlic Knots which are smothered in garlic, pecorino and gremolata. These are amazing and worth all the calories – I promise.

For pizzas I decided to split one of the specials, on the bottom, with a friend but as soon as I saw the Mushroom and Fontina pizza come out for our other friend I knew I had to get in on that.  I ended up abandoning my pizza and eating half of hers as it was just that good. Thank goodness for generous friends. Typically I am not a huge fan on fontina but it just went so well with the mushrooms. The saltiness of the pecorino on top was perfectly balanced with the gremolata, which I am turning into a huge fan of. I think I have been back to Area Four for the Mushroom Fontina pizza twice since this trip. Do it.

20120707-151238.jpgGarlic Knots

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The Mushroom Fontina pizza is on the top and one of the specials is on the bottom (sorry, what is is has escaped me as my mind went blank after trying the Mushroom Fontina one!)

If you are in the area, try to make it to Area our for some of their homemade ice cream that they pop up on the sidewalk. I recently had the Peanut Butter and it was pure heaven. Oh, and don’t even get me started on their croissants! My heart and brain are grateful to Area Four but my waistline… not so much.

How did Area Four measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Area Four on Urbanspoon

Saloon, Davis Sq

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Where: Saloon – 255 Elm Street Somerville, MA 02144
When: March, 2012

Last Friday, after drinks at Area Four and before drinks at Mead Hall, I met some colleagues, Ken and Theo as well as Panos (did I spell that right?), one of Theo’s friends, for dinner at Saloon in Davis Square. I had been there one other time with Libby for drinks and really liked the atmosphere as well as the cocktail list.

As I waited outside for the boys to be done with their group hair cut (adorable) I got to watch a very, very drunk man who only spoke Spanish heckle the bouncer. The bouncer remained so calm and cool, I was damn impressed as even I wanted to march over and tell him to calm his ass down.  Well done.

After getting our IDs checked (thank you) we headed downstairs where we were quickly seated. Saloon is dark and cool and smells almost musty, but not in a bad way. There is just something in the air that makes you wonder what happened there the night before. Lots and lots of dark wood, area rugs and leather chairs. It felt like the kind of place you would go to for a bourbon and cigar after dinner at your grandfathers house and I liked it.

After hemming and hawing about getting a drink or not (it was going to be a long night) I decided to get the same cocktail that I got last time – the Americana. The Americana is bourbon based with brown sugar, j. thomas bitters, and sparkling wine. Its delicious and although strong it has a lightness to it that makes it feel like a totally acceptable drink to have with dinner.

Next, the menu…

My eye immediately went to the Bubble and Squeak partially because of the name but also because all the ingredients looked so good – some of my favorites. I second guessed by decision wondering if I should get the Grilled Flatiron Steak, which Ken got, or even the Fish and Chips. I decided to stick to my gut feeling and got the Bubble and Squeak. It came with a roasted sausage, mashed root vegetables, shaved brussel spouts, winter leeks, and onion gravy. Everything was cooked really well and the flavors worked really worked together. It was a 20120324-111939.jpgtad under seasoned for me so I added a little salt but otherwise it was great. It was pretty heavy and I sort of wished I had gotten something a little lighter as it was one of those wacky Boston winter days that felt like summer. You definitely won’t leave hungry if you get this dish.

When I asked Ken how his steak was he just glazed over and said “This is all I have ever wanted”. Enough said. Everyone really seemed to enjoy what they got and the only other comment I heard was that the portions were a little on the small side (from Panos). I know this is a blessing for me as I can rarely leave a plate until its been cleaned but I can see how this may be a con for someone with a larger appetite.

Overall great atmosphere, fantastic cocktails, and a small but very good menu. Great place to go with a group of friends, family, a date or just for cocktails. I’d definitely go back.

How did Saloon measure up? 4 Spoons!

Saloon on Urbanspoon

Firebrand Saints, Kendall Sq

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20120122-200706.jpg Where: Firebrand Saints – 1 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02142
When: January, 2012

I had never even heard of Firebrand Saints until Meg mentioned wanting to try it out a few weeks ago. After googling it I learnt it is literally 2 blocks from where I work, right in Kendall Sq. How did it sneak by without me detecting it?

Meg and I decided to do a joint review, keeping reading!

Overview / Decor

Meg: Obviously fitting very well into the whole Kendall Square techno-chic aesthetic that’s going on in all these new places. I actually found it to be much cozier than I expected.

Me: Based on the online menu I thought Firebrand Saints would be a little more casual than it was. It’s definitely not “fancy” but it’s cozy and trendy in a non pretentious way. It made me regret my decision to wear my bulky snow boots, glasses, and comfy sweater.

Service

Meg: Although I know some reviews have faulted the service for being slow or inattentive, I thought this was one of the high points of our experience. I was really impressed with our waiter–he was friendly and attentive, without being intrusive; he gave substantive menu suggestions; he noticed my drink was done even before I did. The pacing of everything was good. I felt like it was efficient without being rushed, and even though it was filling up on a Friday night, I didn’t feel rushed to finish my drink at the end of the meal so they could get us out to turn the table over.

Me: We were seated quickly and greeted by our friendly waiter. While we waited for our cocktails (another Pimm’s Cup for me and a Whiskey Smash for Meg) we asked our waiter what his favorite eats are. He immediately said their burgers are fantastic and then went though pointing randomly at items on the menu saying this is good, that is good. Ok, so what don’t you like? This a risky question and typically I don’t get an honest answer so I was charmed that I did. He said he wasn’t a huge fan of the roast beef au jus sandwich (because of the bread choice) and he didn’t think the poached lobster was worth the price tag. Excellent! Well, I’m not getting the roast beef then. I appreciated his candidness.

Food/Drinks

Meg: The Whiskey Smash was good enough to20120120-225321.jpg have 2. Enough said. I feel a little silly reviewing it without trying the burgers, but if you’re not Five Guys or Four Burgers, why be a one-trick pony? Arugula salad: Nothing I couldn’t have made for myself, but a good balance of bite from the lemon juice and pepper, and a generous amount of shaved parmesan, without overwhelming the greens. Buffaloed rock shrimp: Delicious, with just the right amount of vinegar-y tang and spice from the hot sauce. Cooked just right, giving the shrimp that done-but-firm mouth feel, without making them soggy or mealy, which can happen when this dish is an afterthought in the menu. I still am not clear what the side produce was, but it was a cooling and enjoyable alternative to celery and bleu cheese. It was a great shared plate. Porchetta plate with kale and polenta: Perfect dish for a cold Friday night. The porchetta had just the right level of salt and tenderness, although I did find a few pieces to be somewhat dry, and would have liked the meat to have retained a bit more moisture. The kale was braised nicely, perhaps in a cider vinegar? I wouldn’t have eaten a ton of it on its own as a side, but especially when eaten in the same bite as the porchetta and perfectly creamy polenta, it made all three elements of the dish much stronger, even, than they were individually. The Captain Planet of porchetta 20120120-225308.jpgplates, if you will. Steak fries: really more like a potato wedge, and I bet they really round out the burgers. Just the right amount of salt and perfectly cooked (not too firm, and left with that satisfying brown crispiness, without becoming mushy in the middle). Dessert: the only dessert choices are a selection of pies featuring Russell Orchards fruit (which, to be fair, could be outstanding) and ice cream. I’m torn about what to say on this matter, because on the one hand, g’head and do your thing, Firebrand Saints! You are for meat! If you want dessert, walk your butt over to the Cheesecake Factory or something. On the other hand, it felt like the Restaurant Wars episode of Top Chef where everything is chugging along beautifully until someone is like, “I think we can just get by with some ice cream and shaved chocolate, right?” I didn’t feel disappointed or unfulfilled at the end of the meal, but I probably would have dropped another $6 on a bread pudding or profiterole, given the option.

Me: Before we went I did the usual looking over their menu online trying to narrow down what I will get (otherwise expect dull conversation for the 20120120-225314.jpgfirst 10 minutes of dinner as I’m a terrible decision maker). I knew what I wanted – the roast beef au jus sandwich. I hadn’t had one of those since pre-vegetarianism so it must have been about 7 years. It’s time. My decision was quickly thrown out the window once the waiter told us that it was his least favorite on the menu. I was grateful that Meg wasted to share a few items as it made the decision easier. Porchetta plate with kale and polenta: I’m a big fan of the other white meat so quickly agreed to this option. The kale may have converted me to a kale-liker as until then I would have never ordered it. It was braised really nicely and a wonderful compliment to the saltiness of the porchetta. The p olenta was so creamy and cheesy, I could have eaten a soup bowl of it. The star of the dish, the porchetta, was… Fatty. I didn’t know a whole lot about porchetta other than it being pork so wasn’t sure what to expect but it was a lot fattier than I expected. Not like ‘I need to run an extra mile tomorrow’ but like ‘I can’t bring myself to swallow this’ fatty. After a little table side googling we did find out that porchetta is generally very fatty so not sure I can fault Firebrand Saints for this, it’s just not my thing. Buffaloed rock shrimp: YUM! I loved this dish! I’m a big fan of buffalo shrimp which you don’t find that often (why aren’t they as popular as buffalo chicken?) so was very pleased to find this. The shrimp were light delicate little things lightly coated in buffalo sauce drizzled with a blue cheese fondue. Delicious. I could eat this again and often. It came with a refreshing salad that I believe was maybe celeriac and celery but I’m not really sure to be honest. Steak fries: These “fries” were monsters at about a quarter of a potato each. They were crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. Hearty, filling and satisfying. Dessert: Anytime I go out to eat I think of it as a special occasion and since desserts are for special occasions we asked what they had. I don’t remember exactly what they offered but all I heard was “pie, pie, pie, pie, and ice cream.” They need a little something chocolatey on there!

Overall

Meg: Overall, I enjoyed the atmosphere, and thought it was a great value. I would definitely come back for burgers. 4.25 Spoons (for the dry porchetta and on behalf of folks who don’t really like pie).

Me: I would and will definitely go back soon whether it’s for a drink and app at the bar or a burger for lunch or dinner. How do I think Firebrand Saints measured up? 4 Spoons!

Firebrand Saints on Urbanspoon