We ate dinner there last Thursday, arriving around 6:30. The place was virtually empty, at least in the dining area in the back. We choose to sit up front by the bar, which was full with happy people. I noticed a woman sitting by herself in last seat of the bar, enjoying a glass of wine and a book. It's that kind of place.
The waiter/bartender came right away and took our drink order. For me, the best martinis in the area are at the West Side on Mass. Ave outside of Harvard Square. My SO had an apple martini, I had the Trystini. I thought both of them were too sweet,but maybe that's the nature of the beast. I always order them "dry" at the West Side, which, by the way, has the most unbelievable ginger martinis, served only during the cold months.
We ordered a very limited menu, so these comments are based only on a small sampling...I was in the mood for pasta so I ordered the entree portion of the squash ravioli in sage butter, and my SO had the grilled pork chop served with a lady apple stuffed with dates and sweet potato puree with a cider glaze. We could have ordered from the three course tasting menu, which is a very good deal for under $30. That includes a starter (fried oysters served on a nice sounding salad or the pear/bleu cheese salad--see below). Entree choices were either wild salmon or short ribs with choice of any dessert.
The pork presentation was very pretty, all components mounded up against each other. The pork was tender and just past slightly pink, the way it should be IMO. The raviolis were on the small side (like the kind you can buy frozen at the supermarket) and therefore the filling was skimpy. The browned butter with sage they were sauced with was perfect and not overly copious, and the shower of chives on top gave the plate some color, as well as a slight bitterness which worked in counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash. I've had lighter pasta at other places, but it was at least toothsome and not flabby. I'd work on making the pasta thinner and the raviolis larger to contain more filling--more of the Mario Batali look. Still, they were good, but I was a little hungry afterwards. To compensate, I ordered another glass of wine, which we were drinking at that point.
I just checked their menu online and noticed that the raviolis were to be served with radicchio and amaretti crumbs. Evidentially they ran out of both and substituted the chives. Now I'm annoyed that the waiter didn't tell me about the substitution.
Before the meal we had a salad with bleu cheese, roasted pear and sugared pecans. That was good and I'd order it again. It was dressed sparingly--thank you thank you--with a mild vinaigrette and the pear slices were served warm which was very nice contrast to the salad and the cheese.
We didn't have dessert because I knew my SO had bought a bag of peanut m&m's for me and I was really looking forward to eating them during the drive back home. They do, however, have a popular and really good carmelized banana tart. I had it when the restaurant first opened, which was the only other time I'd been there, and it was so delicious my table ordered two more of them. If I remember, it was served warm.
By the time we left the place was hopping. All the bar area tables were filled as was the dining area (or at least it sounded like it was). I will definitely go back and I've fantasized that this will become my neighborhood restaurant. They have really covered their bases on the repetoire of choices: a casual bar menu: flatbread with carmelized onions and bleu cheese, fancy hamburger, etc.; sophisticated and pricier entrees; and then the good value tasting menu if you want the whole shabang. The interior design is sophisticated, inviting, and cozy--it made me want to say, We're not in Arlington anymore Toto.