Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi | Ask Your Questions Now ›

Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area Cambridge

Initial Taste of Cambridge report


Restaurants & Bars 3

Initial Taste of Cambridge report

nomadfromcincy | Jul 22, 2004 01:19 AM

Gosh, I hate re-writing posts. Anyway, I will start this off and hopefully some other hounds will chime in.

Vibe and such: weather was very nice and the setting was perfect. Nice to be able to sit in the grass when it felt right. Organization was excellent -- easy to get in, reasonable lines for the tastes (except a couple, which I'd like to blame on quality), plenty of trash receptacles and tables, decent music. My only complaint was the drinks system -- they definitely could have set it up so you didn't have to wait 15 minutes for a small cup of wine or beer.

My rating system (from high to low):
-Went back for seconds
-Enjoyed every crumb
-Didn't finish it

All Asia Cafe - fried pork gyoza - didn't finish it -- lukewarm and outside was a little too crispy.
Bisuteki - salmon nigiri - enjoyed every crumb -- just a nice little slice of fish, but nothing unusual.
Blue Room - marinated sardine on a puff pastry - didn't finish it, but disclaimer is that i don't really like sardines.
Bukowski - cheese dip and other tastes - didn't finish it. Had one tiny bite and didn't really get excited enough to keep eating it.
Davio's - seared tuna marinated in soy sauce, topped with watercress - enjoyed every crumb -- not as good as Legal's, but tasty and nice soy flavor.
East Coast Grill - fish ceviche with mango, red pepper, and red onion - enjoyed every crumb -- fish was solid in texture, but still cooked by the acid. Could have used more fish and I'm not convinced a blue corn chip was the best way to serve it, but maybe that was just my opinion.
Finale - 'chocolate decadence', went back for seconds - i went back for seconds, but they ran out. disappointing but they handed out some certificates, which was nice and smart marketing.
Harvest - mini-crabcake with crab salad, avocado, and parsley/watercress - went back for seconds. Friendly service just made this that much better. The crabcakes were finished on the spot, and the avocado is a great classic combo.
Legal Sea Foods - tuna rubbed with spicy seasoning and served sashimi style, with seaweed salad - went back for seconds. The first piece I had was very nice - fresh, crisp without the sinewy pieces. Spice rub added just enough to make it unique.
Pizzeria Regina - pepperoni slice - didn't finish it - good-sized slice, but just too greasy after so much other food. The pizza has great flavors, but it is definitely a greasy slice.
Rialto - pan-seared scallop on top of cucumber gazpacho...also served chocolate truffle with passionfruit core - the scallop was okay, but the truffle was awesome. Definitely had two of them and could have had more. The gazpacho was a little too tart and the scallop was nice flavors, but was clearly cooked earlier in the day.
Trader Joe's - cheesecake with blackberries - enjoyed every crumb -- surprisingly delicious. A little light for a cheesecake, so it was nice finish.
Upstairs on the Square - basil-zucchini soup with creme fraiche (served cold) - went back for seconds -- this was a revelation. Forget gazpacho...this was the ideal summer soup. I have always judged restaurants by their soups, and I am looking forward to trying Upstairs again.
Forgot a restaurant, but they served - scallop ceviche served on a chip - it was close to Rialto...maybe it was Sandrine's or Sidney's. Anyway the ceviche was a disappointment (chip overwhelmed the other flavors, scallop's texture was soggy), so maybe that's why I forgot.

Which places did I miss, but wish I hadn't -- Formaggio (the line was just moving too slowly), Chez Henri (didn't see them), and the Summer Shack (too warm outside for a hot soup).

Summary overall:
Best taste was the soup from Upstairs on the Square.
Most valuable restaurant goes to Harvest -- delicious taste and they even prepared smores (with sticks) for tasters later in the evening. I am happy to see that they are both on the Restaurant Week list, because I think we can feel more confident that they will try and impress.
Biggest disappointment -- maybe the Rialto scallop dish or the scallop ceviche -- I just didn't like it that much. The chip overwhelmed the ceviche, the texture of the scallop was more like sushi, and the flavors just didn't jump out at me.
Better than I expected - either the Trader Joe's cheesecake or the Legal's tuna.

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound