Thursday, August 9, 2007
Well, Restaurant Week has kicked off and there is always two schools of thought on this. The first says that it's a great opportunity to visit many of the restaurants you've always wanted to try and could not quite afford to and it gives a great boost to the local dining scene during their slow season. The second view is that it's just a way to drum up business and they serve second rate prix fixe meals that are inferior to the usual fare and thus not a true representation of their skills. I agree that it is the slow season. Let's face it. Everyone is at the coast whether that be the Cape, the Hamptons or the Coast of Maine. I also happen to believe that Restaurant Week can be a mish mash of opportunity depending on the eatery. In the meantime, I am feasting away, trying to sample as much as possible, soaking up the ambiance, working my list and learning each day how the more savvy diners ferret out and take advantage of the truly great offers.
My first official review is for OM, in Harvard Square. I've heard a lot about this place before: it's chic, a beautiful people hangout, great cocktails and all of that. So here's my take. Aromatherapy martinis? Pretentious? Perhaps, especially in light of the misplaced symbolism juxtaposing Buddhist spiritualism with a Prada worshipping, booze swilling, nite clubby crowd of wannabes. How mortifying it would be to bring an actual jet setter here. After all, the essence of cool is NOT looking like the awkward teen so desperately attempting to achieve it. It DOES kind of have that undercurrent of a vibe, to me anyway, but the lounge WAS filled with a glossy crowd that DID seem to be having a good time. I enjoyed the darkened entrance and the funky decor but it was just a tad bit affected.
A wall of water greets you as you step into the darkened enclave of the entrance. We were ushered through the zen like lounge up to the second floor overlooking Winthrop Square. They gave us the window seats-nice. Cocktails were being delivered by servers clad in all black garb. The service began with the delivery of a basket of popcorn with white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. It was tasty but clearly not freshly popped. Next, we were served a tasting of chilled coconut/lime/chile soup, in a large shot glass. It looked tempting and the taste was quite unique but, alas, it was lukewarm. Had it truly been chilled then it really would have been spot on I think. Not an auspicious start.I have to say the service was great and the place is spotlessly clean, both always a major plus.
Window seats are always nice.
Our first course was the zucchini tempura. Miniature zucchini were battered and fried and served with arugula, cherry tomato and shavings of Parmesan. The proof of great tempura is a light, clean taste and this was close to the very best I have ever had. It was perfectly cooked and incredibly light, obviously fried in a pristine oil. The flavor of the zucchini shone through, not the tempura batter or grease. So, kudos on course one.
Next up was our lamb dish, with a curry rub and served with a white bean puree, yellow raisins, beet greens and lemon. The madras curry rub was great, salty enough but not overpowering the delicate lamb. The raisins and beet greens with lemons added a zesty, citrus flavor that played off very well against the meat and the bean puree, with its flatter taste worked well with the dish. It was a wonderful mix of tastes and the palette, served on a white porcelain tray, was pleasant to the eye. Nice touch on the presentation.
Great presentation at OM
Dessert was a fruit parfait served with flavorful fruit - blueberries and strawberries and a Chantilly cream dusted with chocolate. The strawberries were not farm stand fresh but it was good nonetheless although I would have added just a touch of sweetness to the sauce. For a dessert there was really nothing sweet about it. After this we were served a prickly pear popsicle which was both unexpected and a real delight.
The service here was definitely and A+ and the food an A-/B+. The prix fixe menu offered three choices for each category and it was a great place to finally try. The real measure is always will I want to go back. Maybe. I'd certainly be in no rush and I am not that starved for the coolness factor but with the right menu tweaks I may. If that starter soup had been properly chilled and the popcorn actually just popped I would be back. The meal would have been nearly perfect.
92 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138