Sustainable cuisine has been rather the "in" thing in the restaurant scene for the last several years - especially on the West Coast, where my tree-hugging friends and family like to wear their hemp clothing, Doc Martens, and dreadlocks, while cruising over to the nearest Whole Foods to fill their reusable grocery bags with Macintosh apples and raw almonds...
At least that's the common perception that some of my East Coast colleagues carry about my Seattle-homies. It was just a few days ago when one of our minimally-invasive-surgery Fellows told me that people in the Pacific Northwest "don't like to wash their hair" and "like to dress like homeless people." False, dude. FALSE. Seattle is remarkably metropolitan, and plenty of my pals back home dress with just as much style and flare as those from NYC. Plus, we LOVE to shower/wash our hair in Seattle. We have an abundance of water, AND it's not like we're 13th century France... sheesh...
Anyway, the food scene here on the East Coast appears to be just as enamored of the sustainable cuisine concept as those on the West side. Bondir happens to be a popular place in Cambridge that advertises itself as specializing in "sustainable modern American cuisine." My friend Meghan has wanted to try this place for a while, and reservations have to be made several weeks in advance. I thought that the restaurant's popularity was a good sign in regards to the quality of the food, and I jumped at the opportunity to join her for her first experience there.
Meghan, Vaughn, Ammara and I finally got reservations for this last Friday night and we trekked over to Inman Square in Cambridge (rainy and cold as it was... dammit Boston - make up your mind about what season it is!!!!!!!).
We opted for the prix fix menu: a 4-course meal ($75) that included a cold appetizer, a hot appetizer, an entree, and a dessert
The amuse bouche was a soup:
For my cold appetizer, I chose the pig ear terrine:
[Yuzu Kosho and Maine Kombu, Ajowain Poached Sunchoke, Pickled Honshimeji Mushrooms, Black Garlic Vinaigrette, Sesame Tuile, Arame Seaweed]
Everyone else chose the spice-roasted spring beets:
[Bergamot Caramel, Pickled Vidalia Relish, Black Mustard, Kañiwa with Smoked Pistachio Vinaigrette, Pickled Watermelon Radish, Bronze Fennel Seed Lavash]
Unfortunately, the beets had a very strong earthy smell, and Vaughn couldn't stomach them. Fortunately, the flavor was better than the aroma, and according to Meghan, they were mildly sweet and pleasant
For my hot appetizer I chose the stone ground blue corn grits:
[Smoke-Brined Wellfleet Oyster, Stinging Nettles, Washington Morel Mushrooms, Garden Basil Snails, D’Avignon Radish]
While not the most attractively presented grits I've ever seen, the mushrooms were yummy, and I'm always a fan of oysters
Everyone else chose the Dorset custard tartine:
Sadly I was unable to retrieve this photo from my Droid... will keep trying...
[Chestnut Flour Shortcrust, Butter Confit Shallot, Seared Teff Polenta, Perilla Seed, Vegetable Mignardises, Pomegranate Snow]
Again this had a very earthy aroma (Vaughn and Meghan described it as smelling like feet...) but the taste was better than the smell, and Vaughn was a good sport and able to finish most of the dish
For our entrees, Ammara, Meghan, and I all chose the roasted duck breast and confit leg:
[Rhode Island White Flint Cornmeal Cake, Malt Vinegar Roasted Vidalia Onion, Jacob’s Cattle Beans, Pickled Corn and Pepper Jelly]
While the breast was delicious and tender, the piece of confit leg was actually very dry and hard to tolerate. The cornmeal cake had a good flavor but was also a bit dry
Vaughn ordered the Alaskan King Salmon:
[Salt Poached Potatoes in Fumet, Roasted Leeks, Blood Orange Marmalade,
Crisp Greens, Dill, Blood Orange Sea Foam]
She enjoyed this the most out of everything
Finally came dessert:
I had a selection of 3 ice cream/gelatto flavors: from back to front:
Arabic Coffee Gelato
Malted Chocolate Sherbet
Buttermilk Thyme Ice Cream
Meghan and Vaughn decided on the Caramel-Poached Rhubarb Tart:
Final sweet touch were some tiny short-bread cookies with the check:
While I appreciated the experience that Bondir had to offer (it was a tiny -slash cozy- restaurant that is designed to resemble a French farmhouse in the interior, and our server had a matching French accent), I'd be lying if I said that I loved the food. I have no better way to describe the cuisine other than "earthy" (I know I've already used that word multiple times in this post, but it's the best one I can think of), and the chefs were pretty heavy-handed when it came to the use of mushrooms and root vegetables.
Kudos to Vaughn though, who stepped far outside of her food comfort zone, and was a great sport. Merci to Meghan for making the reservations and tolerating our grimaces and complaints :)
Overall rating: 5.5/10
Cambridge, MA 02139