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Boston Area

West Side Lounge

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West Side Lounge

Mike | May 21, 2004 09:15 AM

I haven't seen anything recent about the West Side Lounge on the board so...

I know a single visit doesn't make for a review, but I had one of the better meals I've eaten last night at the West Side Lounge on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. We'd planned to try the bar at Chez Henri (one of our favorites) but the wait was too long for my famished companion so we headed up the block to the West Side.

First the downside: the stereo was way way too loud, loud enough to hamper conversation across the table. Loud enough that we noticed with relief when it went quiet between songs or albums. In short, turn it down! The excellent food more than made up for it, though.

We started off with green tomatoes fried in a cornmeal batter and topped with manchego cheese. The combination of cornmeal and strong cheese tasted a bit like an enchilada but with a slightly sour bite from the tomatoes and a well chosen peppery salad of arugula and tangerines on top. It was very tasty and the plate was clean.

For the main course, I had the halibut. When it arrived, I was stunned at the size of the fillet but it turned out to be a reasonably sized piece of fish resting on a large mound of mashed potatoes. Since both were white, it took a couple of bites to discover the truth. The fish was perfectly cooked, flaky yet still moist, with a distinctive, meaty halibut taste which I imagine is a sign of freshness. The potatoes were also quite well done, creamy and light. However, the star of the dish was the sauce. The whole fish/potato mound was bathing in a bright green pea cream sauce. Fabulous. The sweetness and fresh flavor of the pea puree really shone through and just the right touch of lemon cut the sugar and creaminess so it wasn't cloying. There was some kind of oniony thing (leek, ramp, hard to tell) which added some texture to to the whole but was a bit overcooked. The roast chicken across the table from me got similar raves.

We shared a plate of simple but tasty home made ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Three half-dollar sized sandwiches consisted of chocolate chip cookies (very good) surrounding a small scoop of ice cream. Only because the waitress said so, I think the ice cream was Earl Grey but its flavor was totally lost to more assertive dessert ingredients. The texture and sweetness of the ice cream were right on, though. As with the main course, the sauce turned out to be the star of the dessert. We couldn't get enough of dipping the sandwiches in the intensely bright (both in flavor and color) raspberry coulis which crisscrossed the plate. A glass of moscato finished the meal perfectly. Total bill was less than $80 for two all in including three drinks, tax and tip.

We're pretty picky about restaurants in this category, but the West Side Lounge has joined our list of places worthy of a return visit. If only they'd turn down the music.

Mike

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