April 22, 2016: Bondir Restaurant,
Style but no substance
This highly rated restaurant is located in a neighborhood of Cambridge; I repeat the word ‘neighborhood,’ and the management told me that they had only four spaces allotted to customers, I had difficulty parking, so be prepared.
Bonder is a small cafe-like and intimate restaurant with at least 10 plus tables, yet service can be slow.
Bondir offers only pre-fixe menus and focuses on preparation.
5 Courses, $75
Buttermilk, Wakame, Meyer Lemon
Wheatgrass, Buckwheat, Horseradish
Charred Winter Squash
Salsa Verdi, Pistachio, Apple Balsamic
Little Gem, Crimini, Dashi
Olive Oil Cake
Marshmallow, Apricot, Basil
The first course Daikon Crudo consisted of slivers of daikon radish that were pickled gently, and served with Wakame, an Irish seaweed, in a butter-milk enhanced broth. The second course consisted of roasted carrots complimented by wheatgrass puree. The third dish may have been a misprint, or the entree was changed that evening. Instead of charred winter squash, we were served what appeared to be a romaine lettuce heart smothered in some pistachio tasting sauce.
The fourth dish was Asian inspired: A Dashii and Crimini enhanced broth was the foundation for a roasted sliver of Hake. For dessert, two small rectangles of cake floated on a marshmallow sauce, apricot tidbits with a hint of basil.
Was the meal incredible? No.
Fine cuisine is about flavors, richness, textures, visual seduction, a la Thomas Keller. Its about the experience of luscious taste sensations whether salty, or bitter or sweet. There was lacking in their dishes any umami.
Functionally this experience may excite a vegan, but I missed any exceptional taste sensations from a truly fine meal. And no matter how artfully the ingredients were manipulated, they were vegetables, and these vegetables still tasted like vegetables. I have fond memories of a special sea-weed I recently ate in a HongKong Sushi restaurant; it was called ‘sea-grape.” It was grown and could only be found in a specific region of Japan. One bite of this snap-crunchy, briny tasting vegetable was wonderful. The surprise sensation made it truly sensuous. Bonder is missing that excitement..Presentation was also bland and the wow factor was missing, Each course was displayed in the same tan large earthen bowl..
Honestly, $75 for four courses of vegetables. This dinner was over-priced. ~Tiaotse~