I few nights ago, my girlfriend came up from NYC. She works at Food Arts magazine and always seems to know more about the Boston Cuisine Scene than I do.
When she lived in Boston, one of our favorite places was Salamander in Cambridge. This funky middle eastern fusion joint used to be a gem of Boston---one of the few expensive restaurants with innovation all over menu and a unique feel. We also liked the general mission of the place: organic and local. I myself worked in the building for a time and would sometimes splurge on a $7 gourmet sandwich, like their Roast beef, smoked cheddar and santa fe dressing with green goddess greens...these sandwiches make Cosi overpriced ripoffs look like 3-day leftover Subway...
Unfortunately, Salamander has since closed, leaving me wondering where to go for a special occasion. Jo, my girlfriend, discovered that the capped chef of Salamander, often featured in local restaurant write-ups, has opened a new place in Boston: Barcode. And she insisted that I slay the remainder of my checking account and take her there.
The restaurant is located a block from Hynes Convention on the Green Line and is easy to miss. The name is not as it sounds, but instead is what it is, a barcode. No name, just a UPC bar code on a unassuming black sign hanging outside a dingy-looking brick building. We thought the name gag was a bit pretentous, but expensive restaurants kind of hafta be.
The restaurant is broken in two: a bar/lounge and a dining area. I know chowhounds don't care much about decor, but there was one notable treat: as you walk from the bar down a few steps to the dining room, you have an excellent view of the kitchen and there is even a little balcony installed so that your can hover a few feet above the chefs and take in the smells of each dish as it hits the grill.
The food was spectacular. While the chef seeems to have abandoned the organic/local credo (possibly the reason for the demise of Salamander), the food has not suffered.
We started with the smoked salmon rolls with citrus-soy sauce ($10). We expected a spring-roll like dish, but instead were presented with smoked salmon sushi. The smoke added a nice twist to the dish and we quickly devoured the rolls. Tho, I was not here for sushi, however innovative.
The salad was one of the high points of the meal. Grilled endive and radiccio, with roasted beets and greens. I don't know what it was dressed with, but it was fabulous. I'll never think about beets the same way again and may have to try my hand at grilling an endive sometime.
I had chicken, she had pork. Both priced $20-$25, so it ain't cheap! So many things were happening with these dished that I cannot recall either very clearly right now. But I do remember that the Blackened Pork was out of this world...possibly the best I've had...and both dishes were true masterworks of flavor integration. My girl agreed. A food magazine critic, she gave in and admitted that the food was just as good if not better than most anythin she gets in NYC...and she gets the good stuff. Trust me.
I have written much, so I leave you with this. If you are looking to splurge on dinin, make Barcode your next destination.
P.S. Sorry this is a bit pricy for Chowhound, but it's too new for ZAGAT and, well, I had to tell somebody.