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Boston Area Cambridge

Atasca on Hampshire, near Kendall Sq., Cambridge

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Restaurants & Bars 5

Atasca on Hampshire, near Kendall Sq., Cambridge

Limster | Apr 4, 2003 11:51 PM

I loved the black eye peas in the Pasteis a Tasca; they're cooked to a wonderful kind of firmness, barely soft, a prized exact texture. Spaced between these peas are bit of pearly sharpness from what I gathered to be chopped onions or shallots -- they contrast the peas brightly. They're finished by a thin light coat of an olive oil dressing and numerous flecks of parsley. So uncommonly good and addictive.

The breadcrumbed croquettes above are also good too. The ones with the emblematic salt cod were the most memorable, with clean white fibers delicately felt on the tongue, almost like crabmeat. The heavier veal version provided a deep flavour, a baritone for contrast. The last one was with shrimp, while savoury, would have benefitted from a slightly richer shrimpy flavour.

Pork and clams were satisfactory, but not exceptional. Hearty flavours in the appropriately salty sauce, and the clams were cooked largely just right, but the firm, tight pork cubes leaned on the dry side. The fried potato cubes were not as crisp on the outside as I had hoped.

But there's redemption. The accompanying red wine from Alenteja (same region as the pork and clams), was quite a pleasure (ripe berries, a hint of spice and pepper, mild to moderate tannin and well balanced on the whole), and probably one of the best $5.50 glasses I've drank in a while. I'll make excuses to explore their all Portugese wine list, which seemed a good value (perhaps those more educated in the ways of wine might want to chime in).

Lastly, an admirable flan -- firm, but with a softer consistency than the dense ones I usually prefer. But this one had great flavour, a warm aura of what I thought was goood vanilla and a nuanced floral flavour of something else beautifully worked in...(I think lemon).

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