West Bridge, Cambridge, Mass.
West Bridge, named for its location just over Boston's original West Boston Bridge, is one of the newest restaurants to open in Kendall Square, so naturally my friend Elizabeth and I had to check it out. We decided to meet for dinner after work on a random Tuesday evening. I arrived a little before Elizabeth and was warmly greeted by the hostesses and shown to our table. The restaurant was pretty quiet since it was on the early side, which gave me an opportunity to scope out the space. I loved how open it was. The mixture of dark and light chairs, all the straight lines, and the rustic floors added a certain appeal and fit the look one might expect from a Kendall Square restaurant.
Our friendly, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable waiter came over to take my drink order and showed me that the menu (food and wine) was actually folded up and tucked in my napkin. After opening the menu and looking it over, I ordered a sparkling Malbec (09 Dom, Augis, Sparkling Malbec, "La Rosee," Loire, FRA). I've been really into pink bubbles lately, and this one did not disappoint.
Elizabeth joined me just after my drink arrived.
To begin our meal, our waiter brought over some fried chicken skin with a malt vinegar aioli for dipping and some pickled vegetables. The chicken skin was incredibly crispy and lightly salty. I enjoyed it with sweet-tangy aioli. I left Elizabeth to sample the pickled veggies, since she's the non-meat eater of the two of us.
For dinner, we decided to share a few dishes. We went mostly meatless, but I wanted to try at least one dish with some kind of meat, and the dandelion salad with duck confit and gooseberries called out to me. The duck was moist and soft and was a good counterpart to the slightly bitter greens. I don't think I've ever had gooseberries before, and I liked the slightly tart citrus notes they imparted to the dish.
The nutty farro with green garbanzo beans tasted so buttery and rich yet light. I loved the different textures going on in the dish. I would have eaten the whole bowl if I didn't have to share with Elizabeth. (It's a good thing I recently discovered I like green garbanzos.)
I had read about the peas and favas here and here, so I knew they were going to be good. The green veggies are served atop a thick pool of goat cheese cream and topped with crispy shiitake mushroom bacon. The mushrooms were almost good enough to replace real bacon, and that goat cheese cream added a little tang and tied everything together.
For dessert, we were lucky enough to get the chef to make us one of everything. (We got to try all of the desserts and just paid for one. We paid for everything else we ordered.) First up, the ice cream cookie sandwich. West Bridge serves SoCo Creamery ice cream, so of course, that was delicious. The cookie itself didn't blow me away, but all of the components together made for a tasty dessert.
A rhubarb tart featured rhubarb that was just too woody to be enjoyable. We gave this feedback to the general manager, and hopefully the tart will be better the next time around... or at this point, with rhubarb pretty much out of season, it might even have been replaced.
The carrot cake with hazelnut buttercream was moist and spicy and plated with a flavorful syrup. We had trouble finding the hazelnut buttercream but eventually dug into it when we got to the bottom of the cake. I would have liked a bit more buttercream (who wouldn't? -- maybe they could add some little rosettes on the side) but loved the cake otherwise. It was such a creative interpretation of what is usually seen as an everyday cake.
My favorite of the dessert offerings was a sort of deconstructed s'more. This layered dessert featured chocolate panna cotta, homemade marshmallow fluff, and a crunchy graham cracker crumb topping. Amid the layers of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker crumbs (typical s'mores components) was a miso sauce. I know it sounds like an unusual addition to a dessert, but it worked, adding saltiness and balancing the sweetness of the s'mores components.
To end our dessert splurge, we sampled little bowls of SoCo Creamery's dirty chocolate ice cream, called such because it's one of the messiest flavors they make. It's a rich, creamy, decadent chocolate ice cream. (And I wanted to take that miniature bowl home with me.)
Overall, I enjoyed our visit to West Bridge and am looking forward to checking out some other menu items. I love the small plates concept since I'm definitely someone who likes to try as many different dishes as possible, but I also want to get Jeff to go back with me at some point to help me tackle the 32-ounce bone-in rib eye (a large dish meant for sharing), and I wouldn't mind trying the roast chicken (after reading this article in the Boston Globe).
Along with many of the restaurants that have opened in Kendall in the past year or so, West Bridge is a welcome addition. (I'm getting just a little jealous that Kendall has so many great restaurants now. I worked in the area for five years and the pickings were pretty slim then. It's also pretty key that the bar at West Bridge opens at 3. I remember that my former co-workers and I would always have to wait around until after 5/5:30 for a good bar to open.)
Have you been to any new restaurants recently?
Labels: Restaurant reviews and events