Had a lovely dinner in the patio area last night - comes au natural for sure, as the big tree in the backyard was dropping its seeds into everything, but no one really minded.
One small but meaningful change to the menu is the elimination of the categories of pret a manger and divisions of appetizers - the menu now has a list of about 15 meze, which still include the pret a manger dips and spreads, etc., just rebranded. This has the effect - to my mind at least - of tapas-izing the menu, although let me be perfectly clear that no one at the restaurant and nothing on the menu ever suggested the use of that term. But I did feel more unencumbered to order a bunch of dishes for the table to share, and then to order a second round of dishes for the table to share from the same section. Could neighbor East by Northeast have inspired with its directive to order for sharing? Who knows, but I felt that it encouraged the sharing of plates and grazing through the menu, which suits the patio setting perfectly.
As for the chow, the highlight for me was the nettle and green garlic lamejun with a dollop of creamy cheese and sorrel - really excellent flavor. The grilled octopus was also a steal, a generous helping of grilled octopus with a bunch of other tasty things on a large bruschetta-like bagette slice. There was a kingfish dish that was like a Middle-Eastern spiced ceviche - also excellent. Ordered a falafel as well, which normally comes with three, but a fourth was added so everyone could share. There was a cheese plate that was also roundly enjoyed. First wine was a Vendejo from Rueda, Spain, a little sour for my tastes - I recently bought a Rueda Vendejo after a tasting at Federal Wine and Spirits that makes an excellent summer wine and frankly preferred mine much more, but the sour wine drinker at the table was very happy with the choice. Second wine was a rose of Pinot Noir from Oregon or CA, not sure, but this was near perfect for warm, outdoor dining - really hit it out of the park for me. And is there a finer dessert than the almond cremolata and chocolate panino? The table also shared a salty butter ice cream and frozen lemon souffle choices, which were good but cutesy small and so not as quite as sharable as the cremolata.
All in all, a great evening out.
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139
East by Northeast
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139