One of my friends started working not far from where I live, and she and I have since been trying to hit up some Cambridge spots together. A couple weeks ago we met up for $2 grilled cheese and other appetizers at Dante, and Bambara was next on our list. We had planned to meet at lunchtime, but one thing led to another and we found ourselves making reservations to have dinner there with significant others and friends last Friday night during Boston Restaurant Week.
We gathered around our table for seven near the entrance to the restaurant and started off by ordering drinks. I thought it would be super economical if my friend and I split a half carafe of prosecco for $12 instead of each ordering a glass for $10. The half carafe was just a small bottle, not quite what I expected, but it was enough for two glasses and ended up being a good start to the meal.
For my appetizer, I decided to try the Boston feta salad. I feel like I've been on a feta kick all summer -- and I'm definitely not ready to get off it. The salad is made with Boston lettuce, feta, English cucumbers, roasted sweet and hot peppers, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, toasted pita bread, and lemon vinaigrette. As I was typing up this description, I realized that I don't think there was any toasted pita bread in my salad. There were some crusty rolls and butter on our table, so I guess I didn't miss the pita much. Other than that, the salad was delicious and filled with so many different flavors. I was a little nervous about the hot peppers, but there were only a few of them and they added a subtle heat when mixed with the other components.
For his appetizer Jeff tried the arancini, which are crispy risotto balls with short-rib meat, Parmesan, Fontina, herbs, and tomato and aioli sauces. The risotto balls were definitely nice and crispy. I snitched a tiny bite. Jeff really enjoyed these. I ate some of the extra sauce he left on his plate with a little leftover short rib. The short rib was so tender, and I thought the tomato sauce was rich and flavorful.
Moving onto entrees, Jeff went with the grilled filet of beef in a red wine sauce with ratatouille and roasted new potatoes. If you know anything about Jeff, you know he'd never eat ratatouille. Bonus for me. The ratatouille was full of the usual tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant, cooked until soft and well flavored. I also tried a little piece of his filet and thought the red wine sauce took the meat dish up a notch.
For my entree, even though I had just had pork at L'Espalier that afternoon, I went with the grilled pork medallions. These were served with creamed local sweet corn, smoked tomato broth, and crispy onions. It was the accompaniments that truly convinced me to order this dish. The pork was moist and well seasoned and topped with roasted tomatoes. The smoked tomato broth and corn were so good, adding extra levels of flavor, and paired perfectly with the pork. It was one of those ultimate summer dishes. And who doesn't love crispy onions?
There weren't any desserts that really called out to me (and I was stuffed so maybe that's why), so I went with the peach shortcake, which I thought would be on the lighter side. Triangles of angel food cake drizzled with caramel accompanied roasted peaches and whipped cream. The dessert was delicious, but I barely made it through half of it.
Jeff tried the hot chocolate cake with creme anglaise and raspberry coulis. The cake was very rich, and he didn't make it too far through dessert either.
I didn't want to bug everyone at the table taking pictures of their meals, but as far as other entrees, some people tried the scallops (I heard there were only two, which seemed a little skimpy, but they were good), and someone got the steak frites -- I saw a generous serving of fries. Other appetizers that were ordered included the tuna tartare, the lobster bisque, and the chopped salad. Everyone was happy with their choices, and we all enjoyed the atmosphere. Our server was friendly, pleasant, and attentive (until the end... it took a long time for him to come back and get our credit cards) and helped us select dishes from the menu, offering suggestions of his favorites.
This was another winning Boston Restaurant Week experience. I loved Bambara's restaurant week menu because it consisted of dishes the restaurant normally serves. This is the way to do restaurant week, if you ask me. I hate when restaurants do something different. That doesn't give me a sense of what you do and doesn't make me want to return and pay full price. I think of restaurant week as a trial for a particular restaurant. Bambara passed with flying colors. And the best news is that the restaurant week menu is available the whole month of August, so you still have time to go check it out.
Have you ever been to Bambara?