Tables 2/3 full by 6:30 w/room still at the bar. Seated immediately at a deuce under the specials board. Decided to go w/apps this 1st time. Bowl of tasty, craggy slices of crusty bread arrived. Asked & rec’d 2 more tiny cups w/soft ball of sweet butter. Big bowl of sweet, plump mussels in broth w/fresh cilantro sprigs & scallions arrived next – plenty for DC & me. Altho’ we didn’t’ taste much coconut, the broth was delicious & sopped up w/the bread. Sinful shrimp & grits arrived next – rich, buttery grits, chock full of lean bacon nuggets, savory mushrooms, scallions & tender, butterflied shrimp – so comforting, I would happily eat this for breakfast any day. We, honestly, could have stopped there & been satisfied, but I wanted my DC to have a 1st experience w/pork belly. Glad we soldiered on cuz the pork belly app was to die for. Perched in the center of a lake of savory, rich toasted sesame hoisin braising liquid was a 4” tower w/a glossy, mahogany top and layers of belly w/a surprisingly goodly amount of tender meat at the base. DC was awed. Thinking that the best pb rendition I’d had twice at Fuloon was the standard, I found this seriously contested by HK’s rendition. I had picked this particular treatment off the menu, because of the kimchi side, but found it not pickled enough & too salty. My DC, on the other hand, liked it for just these characteristics. In retrospect, I wish we’d ordered the special pb that was accompanied by roasted asparagus, ramps, etc. We were getting pretty full by this time when the calamari arrived. Generous plate of rings & tents, lightly dusted and fried, but no great shakes. We started w/glasses of the red Farina, Barbera D’Asti and wouldn’t recommend. It was warm & acidic – ?open bottle sitting around. I tried the Dogfish IPA and really liked it. DC had a Belgian ale. Service was great, water glasses refilled, mussel shell bowl emptied when full and told to take our time finishing our beers, even though, by this time, room was full of couples, multigenerational families w/infants, toddlers, small children and a bar full customers on a chilly, windy, misty weeknight. I’m going to call to see how long that pork belly/roasted asparagus, ramps app is going to be available. Tab $76 including t&t.
150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143