Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Lunch Series Part 10: Sofra

A wonderfully unique establishment located at One Belmont Street in Cambridge, serving modern Eastern Mediterranean food inspired by traditional Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisine; Sofra Bakery & Cafe is the younger sister of Ana Sortun's more widely known and highly acclaimed restaurant Oleana.The first stop in a venture around this quaint neighborhood on Cambridge's western boundary, (a short ride from Harvard Square on the 71 or 73 bus line), my sister and I arrived around 1 pm to a line of customers wrapped around a counter displaying goods for sale. The line moved at a swift pace, but still allowed us ample time to decide on what to eat, and to take in the scene. I was enamored with all the specialty spices for sale as well as the hip and cozy middle eastern decor emitting a bohemian vibe.
Sofra and Oleana's produce is organic and locally grown at Siena Farms. Siena Farms supports a 300 member CSA as well as provides produce to numerous other Boston restaurant kitchens.

Leah and I decided to share a Mezze Bar Platter ($9).
I had never ordered from a Mezze Bar until now! It proves to be a substantial lunch, I highly recommend you try it out you visit Sofra.

The platter style option allowed us our choice of 5 mezze.
We sat outside on the patio which provides a lovely setting. However, the awning added an awkward yellowish tint to my photos. The first item listed below on the "From the Kitchen" menu sparked intrigue and so we decided to order that in addition to our mezze bar platter.
To drink they offer fancy lemonades and iced teas, but my sister recommended we get the Sharbat ($2.75).

We chose the flavor of the day which was a white peach nectar.
Sharbat is a popular drink of the region (very common in Indian, Iranian and Afghan homes) prepared from fruits or flower petals. Served chilled over ice, this was unlike any juice I'd ever tasted. It was sweet, syrupy and creamy all at the same time. I loved it!

Back to the Mezze Platter - I'll work my way across the plate, left-to-right.
1) Smokey eggplant with pine nuts. 2) Whipped feta with sweet & hot peppers.
3) Beet Tzatziki 4) Lentils with carmelized onion, greens & cilantro
5) Muhammarra - red pepper & walnut puree.
Everything we tasted was full of fresh clean flavors; from beet to eggplant to feta to walnut. When blended with certain oils and spices, these ingredients created innovative and tasty spreads. Most lent a creamy whipped consistency - similar in texture to hummus, with the exception of the shredded beets in the tzatziki and the small round lentils. I welcomed the diverse textures, flavors and colors all on one plate. This entire platter was quite a feast for the two of us. Our kitchen dish also proved to be a worthy choice served in an adorable mini cast iron skillet. 

With warm chunks of Syrian bread that were both soft and crispy, surrounded by chickpeas and wilted greens, topped with a cold tart yogurt, a smooth tahini sauce and finished off with a sprinkle of sumac, this dish proved to be an excellent and filling lunch.
Ana Sortun's one-of-a kind concept launched in 2008 brought Sofra to the Boston food scene, and trust me city dwellers / anyone else in the vicinity, she's worth a trip. I thought I'd tried it all this summer lunch series; there was Brunch, Sushi, Seafood, Modern American, Italian, basically a little bit of everything. Sofra is the spot I never knew I was missing. I learned from reading the menu, Sofra comes from an Ancient Arabic word meaning dining table or picnic, it is also a synonym for generosity and hospitality. The staff was patient, friendly and helpful and the food was definitely served in generous portions at very fair prices.
My sister is lucky to live close by, she can head back for Turkish coffee and pastries anytime! We were extremely full after lunch, but how we passed up coconut macaroons among other sweets I'll never know.
Sofra isn't the only draw to this block anymore; recently opened on the corner of Cushing & Belmont Streets are two boutiques where we headed after lunch. The Mad Closet is a small consignment shop with an assortment of clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry.
Lady Luxe is vintage with a modern twist - selling all of the above as well as furniture and decorative household items. Today I purchased a vintage dress for a mere $26, as well as that white belt you see pictured on the display below for $6. Lady Luxe is owned and run by two sisters who started out selling their goods at SOWA, (South End Open Market) but eventually moved on to open this boutique.After shopping we treated ourselves to pedicures at Star Nails around the corner on Mt. Auburn Street. Leah's are an electric neon pink and mine a bright spunky yellow. The ladies did a great job, we were both pleased with the service we received.
Sofra, shopping, and pedicures made for a relaxing afternoon in Cambridge. It's always fun to discover a new neighborhood niche!
Sofra Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon


Jen said...

Oh my gosh, I am in love with that restaurant from the pics alone! Delicious!

And yay for reasonably priced dresses!

Cute toes, too!

Melissa said...

Yum, I just love Mediterranean food!

MelissaNibbles said...

I've been wanting to try Mediterranean food for a long time, but a lot of the places downtown are very pretentious. Sofra looks great. Do you know if they do dinner?

Mad Closet is awesome!

Terrianne, Call me Ree said...

From start to finish, looks like you had an AWESOME time with your Sis. I'm glad to see (and read) you enjoyed such a great weekend.

New England is the jewel to the North too many people never make it past New York to find out and your pictures prove it! =)

Lizzy said...

What a fun Friday!!! Sofra looks amazing. I love Mediterranean food! Makes me want to go back on my cruise. looking forward to your Cape recap!

Emily said...

I have really been wanting to try Sofra. Oleana is literally around the corner from my apartment but not exactly an everyday place to grab food. I'm glad to hear Sofra lives up the the hype!

newlywed said...

I can't wait to try Sofra and Oleanna! I love Mediterranean food.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

This sounds like a perfect weekend! I haven't been to Sofra myself but it looks so pretty and the food looks so tasty! I have been to Oleana and I know that they sell the whipped feta at both. The whipped feta is SO good!

Daisy said...

@MelissaNibbles - perhaps an early dinner. The hours are M-F: 8-8 and Sat & Sun: 8-6. :)

leah said...

What a great write up to re-cap a great day! Looking forward to reading the post about the weekend!!!!

this free bird said...

Sofra looks like such a great place. The menu offerings sounded excellent and the atmosphere was really cool too...I probably would have hit the salads for my first time, but the kitchen selections sounded amazing!!

Sounds like a great weekend!

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Looks like some great Med food. Awesome photo, as per usual.

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

What a fun afternoon! I love whipped feta. And shopping. And pedicures :) You gotta go back for those coconut macaroons!

Juliana said...

Daisy, I love Mediterranean the spices :-) Great pictures!

shari @ little blue deer said...

Rock on! Sofra looks so chic (and delish!). Love the yellow polish!

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

Love Sofra's decor- the food look really yummy! LOVE your yellow toes :)

My weddings to be in are kinda spread out- July 9, Labor Day, then Sept 24. Should be a packed year!

5 Star Foodie said...

Looks like a terrific place. That mezze platter looks delicious!

meghan said...

I have been DYING to go to Sofra!

Fresh Local and Best said...

I'm impressed with the vintage store, it looks like there are quite a few treasures in there.

Sofra looks like a great restaurant, I also like that they served your food in a Staub cast iron casserole.

Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said...

Hihi cool nailpolish :D

The restaurant looked so good, it's really great you kept it traditional, it's (in my opinion) the best way to explore :)

Café Bellini said...

Without flash (the first one, right?)! I want to try that juice! I love tzatziki... I haven't had middle eastern food in ages. Hmmm now you've got me thinking...

Megan said...

How you passed up chocolate hazelnut baklava, I'll never understand! Even their chocolate chip cookies are amazing. I need to try that drink next time I go.

If you ever want to go to Oleana, I'll be your date!

Gina said...

i need to go to Sofra!! im so jealous ;)

p.s at first glance i thought those were both your feet and that you just had different colors on each one!

<3 gina

Carolina Shea said...

Great photos Kristen! I'm obsessed with Sofra's egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Thanks for stopping by Lady Luxe :)