It was a great night to join fellow food writers who gathered in my old haunt, One Kendall Square, as guests of West Bridge, for a sumptuous night of food and conversation. When I worked in the area the dining was desolate, absolutely nothing but The Blue Room. Now it's awash in options and this, my friends, is an excellent one.
The space is bright and airy with a rustic yet comfortable feel and plenty of room. It sort of made me feel as though I was dining in a barn, albeit a very clean, contemporary, well-lit one. My dinner companions were Jacki and Meesh of Just Add Cheese and Miles Howard of STUFF Magazine and the conversation ranged from world travel to hiking in Vermont, music and the very latest food finds in Boston.
Design elements showcase a crafted cocktail scene where one can go after work for a drink and quick appetizer or a full meal.
Our amuse bouche sip: Kitty Kiernan. A small goblet of Irish Whiskey, Becherovka (a Czech Liqueur), Ginger and Lemon. Light and refreshing and a perfect way to get the gastric juices flowing.
Bowls of Chicken Skin and Aioli were then passed. Neither greasy nor heavy but best taken in small bites to savor the richness.
The edible amuse bouche was a chunk of sweet melon and chopped almonds, lighter fare for perfect balance.
Melon juice and Guanciale were served alongside, an inventive and welcome take on the typical prosciutto and melon snacks served in summer months. Guanciale is basically an Italian bacon, from the cheek of the pig. Again, a beautiful contrast of sweet and salty flavors.
First course was the signature dish: Egg In A Jar. Duck Egg, Hen Of The Woods, Pomme Puree and crisp skin. We raved. It's brunch in a mason jar (which they constantly need to replace as the dish is poached in it's entirety). The egg was perfectly runny and the potato a creamy match for the crunchy toppings. Served with a great brew: Devotion, Lost Abbey, San Marcos. It's on draught and highly recommended.
Second: Peas and Favas. Served with Shitake, Goat Cheese Cream and Red Quinoa. Blissfully vegetarian, inventive. This dish was served with an 2011 Coteaux du Vendomois, Pinot d'Aunis, Lieu-dit Cocagne.
Third: Char with Brioche, Artichoke and Basil Grapefruit. The crisp on the skin and tender meat made this seafood plate a standout. This was matched with a favorite wine: 2011 Gruner Veltliner, Herman Moser, Kremstal. Very nice.
Fourth: Duck Breast with Hibiscus Beet Vinaigrette, Black Rice and Carrots. With a 2010 Cotes du Rhone, Grenache/S, Dom de Beaurenard accompaniment, what's not to love?
Final: S'more Verrine. Chocolate, Marshmellow, Miso and Graham. A really unique twist that plucked at my emotional memories of summer barbecues but added the perfectly-balanced taste of miso that only an adult, educated palate could detect. It capped off an evening of totally emotive cooking without all of the molecular gastronomy: very impressive. That little sip is a Brandy - Amontillado Sherry, Galliano Ristretto, Cardamon Bitters. Another great match.
Then, the last, delightful surprise of many: Mini Beignets, classically served with both powder and dipping sauces. Rhubarb. Incredibly well-done.
Hats off to Chef Matthew Gaudet. The best dining in Boston IS in Cambridge! My best meal, so far, this year.
1 Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139