Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bergamot

Situated on the Somerville/Cambridge line on the outskirts of Harvard and Inman Squares, Bergamot is located, relatively speaking, off the beaten path. For me that means a walk from the North End through Beacon Hill to access the outbound red line train, a short subway ride to Harvard Square, and just about another mile walk after that. Truth be told, I don't mind a walk, especially through a charming residential neighborhood. But it still begs the question, is this out-of-my-city-limit-comfort-zone restaurant worth the journey?I write about a lot of restaurants and while I attempt to portray in a positive light any and every establishment that makes a valiant effort, I'll let you know when something falls short be it a certain dish, a component of one, or even the service. But I must say, nothing makes me happier than when I don't have to. Bergamot is one of those restaurants that shines in absolutely every aspect of the dining experience.This past Sunday evening with dining companions Amy, Emily, Megan and Meghan, all of whom have been fortunate to dine here in the past; I was thrilled to partake in what became a sampling of almost the entire menu, or what felt close to it! (Yes, you're in for a long post.) Bergamot serves progressive American cuisine focusing on the use of locally sourced international ingredients. In other words, they incorporate exotic or unusual foods into familiar and approachable dishes. And be as it may no easy feat, every dish was outstanding and modestly priced to boot.
We started the meal with an Amuse Bouche of golden beet, creamy goat cheese, tangy pickled onion and chive. This bite preceded the appetizer course in splendid fashion.


{Appetizers}
A vibrant slice of smoked salmon, cured with peppercorns and corriander lending a mild spice and an aromatic edge is the Salmon Pastrami ($11). Rolled into a loose cone-like formation and plated over Boston brown bread spread with Devonshire cream, celery jam and honey mustard meringue, a visually stunning and equally as delectable plate earns high marks. The flavorful and firmly tender Grilled Marinated Shrimp ($12) sat over a lightly dressed bed of romaine, red cabbage and frisee dotted with Picholine olives, Satsuma Tangerines, feta cheese and pistachios. The picholine olives (your typical cocktail olive) sparked intrigue as they had been breaded and deep fried. The Satsuma tangerine, reminiscent of a mandarin orange with a particularly delicate flesh, added a tiny burst of sweet citrus to compliment the slightly bitter greens and tangy feta cheese. Showcased in the next appetizer, a farm raised delicacy of Grilled Griggstown Quail ($12) pairs the gamey bird with chickpea manchengo puree, chorizo dust, napa cabbage and piquillo pepper viniagrette. I can't remember when and where I've had quail, but I know I've tasted it in the past. While the counterparts were excellent, this dish truly allowed the quail to stand out so you really got a sense of its more unusual sweet nutty flavors and delicate texture. I saved the best for last, and really, they are all best in my book, but this Berkshire Pork Belly Ravioli ($12) was outstanding. Plump semi circular raviolis enveloping tender pork belly are placed atop a rich cream sauce and generously sprinkled with pistachio and crispy shallots. Central to the plate are some braising greens and flanking the outskirts would be quince, a sticky sweet fruit that was reminiscent of a dried cherry, except more juicy.A bottle of Schloss Mulenhoff Dass 1st Müller-Thurgau a dry sparkling white wine from the Reinheissen region in Germany paired well with the appetizers offering a light body with floral and mineraly notes.
Each of the appetizers, in my opinion, seek to push culinary boundaries and spark intrigue. They leave you with a lasting impression that you'll remember not only up until the entree course, but long past it.


{Chef's compliments}
Bergamot is run by Chef/Co-Owner Keith Pooler formerly of Harvest and Scampo. In addition to paying our table a visit towards the end of the meal, he generously took the time to prepare a scaled down version of the Pan Roasted Rainbow Trout entree for each of us to taste. The fish was beautifully prepared with an extra crispy skin, served alongside savoy cabbage, celeraic and a beet fondue.

{Cocktails}
Because they came so highly recommended, we decided to pair cocktails with our entrees as opposed to more wine! Between the five of us, three went with the Chambery Gimlet ($10) Beefeater London Dry, Rosemary, Lime, Dolin Blanc Vermouth and two of us, myself included chose the Momisette Sour ($10) Genever, Pastis, Orgeat, Classic Egg White Sour. I do love a tart and refreshing Gimlet, however I couldn't pass up the soothing froth of an egg white this time around. The anise flavors of the pastis surprises the palate, throwing off the traditional sweet and sour balance of this cocktail in a good way. A very good way.


{Entree}
The Hudson Valley Duck Breast ($28) was my entree of choice. Cooked to a rosy-pink medium rare this duck is tender and robust, with a crispy skin intact. The dark meat is evenly sliced and plated to resemble a work of art, the potato laced jus and green garlic adding abstract visions and layers of intermingling flavors. And clearly, that's not all. This dish has a lot going on and all of it works. Juxtaposing the duck is a mustard and panko crusted braised endive offering a complex bitterness. Layered over the top would be the distinctly moist and earthy Maitake mushrooms. The rest of the entrees earned equally high marks. From the Roasted Lamb Top Sirlion ($29) to the Plantain Gnocchi ($23) and the West Coast Halibut ($28), everyone was pleased with their dishes.


{Dessert}
Hazelnut Baklava is not a regular menu contender, it was actually the dessert special this evening. Baklava takes me back to a distant vacation Greece, but it is not one of my go-to desserts. This one is a sure rival of any I tasted over there, the buttery sweetness and nutty crunch contrasting nicely with the creamy goat cheese.
Bergamot Scented Panna Cotta ($8) - now this is my go-to dessert! Not a Bergamot scented Panna Cotta per se, but a panna cotta in general. Accompanied by refreshing grapefruit sorbet over a bed of finely crumbled almonds accented with a forest green tarragon emulsion, I was nothing short of impressed.
The majority favored the Chocolate Chipoltle Cake ($10) for its intense combination of rich chocolate with a deep smokey spice. Oh, the torched marshmallow and sprinkle of peanuts didn't hurt its cause either.
We didn't order the Carrot Cake ($9) but in another generous gesture, chef sent this out with his compliments. I was delighted to sample this dessert after witnessing the presentation of three tiny cakes boasting rum soaked raisins, sandwiching silky cream cheese frosting topped with crispy carrots. It was fantastic. If you are a carrot cake fan, this dessert is for you.
Last but not least, a taste of the Meyer Lemon Beignets ($9) rounded out the dessert experience. I mean, how can you pass up a dessert that offers tequila ice cream, never mind lemon curd filled bites of goodness dotted with cocoa nibs and espresso glaze? You can't and you shouldn't. After we settled the bill, a plate of Lychee pâte de fruits (small bite of jellied candies) were delivered. This subtle gesture was final a reminder of the thoughtfulness and attention to detail that was exhibited throughout the evening. I was so captivated by it all that I forgot to take a photo of the interior.{Photo compliments of Tim Llewellyn Photography Blog}
The warm natured and informed service embodies refined hospitality to a tee. The wine list is expertly paired yet unconventional. The bartenders fiercely shaken cocktails, as well the chefs innovative appetizers and entrees showcasing classic technique with locally sourced ingredients leave lasting impressions. The desserts stand in a class all their own; sublime and ethereal, I highly recommend you save room. The rustic simplicity with industrial ceilings meeting white linen tablecloths gives the space a homey neighborhood feel while maintaining a classiness all its own. Not only is Bergamot worth the trip, but I would highly encourage one. It would be an absolute shame to miss it.


Bergamot 
118 Beacon Street
Somerville, MA 02143
Bergamot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

12 comments:

  1. I went shortly after they opened and wasn't amazed, but this makes me want to take trip back because your review makes it seem delicious

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  2. I've got to echo your sentiments that Bergamot does new American cuisine right and their service is FANTASTIC!

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  3. Love this post! Your writing is fantastic, lots of great adjectives and verbs going on! I think that I could probably eat that panna cotta and the lemon beignets all day, every day. Let's go back!

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  4. Love the title, especially because I took a taxi!!! :) Such an incredible meal.

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  5. I love this post too! This is definitely a destination in my future. Never heard of a frothy egg white topping on a cocktail before. Everything looks & reads delicious! I think you did experience most of the menu. The rav's, the duck, the salmon...the desserts, are all mouth watering sensations!

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  6. I already want to go back!!! Your post is making me relive every bite. The skin on the fish was so crispy and perfect. And of course the desserts were to die for.

    Any time you want to go back, you know where to find me!

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  7. you made me so hungry!!! i definitely need to get there, and asap :) fabulous.

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  8. The food looks tasty but it may be out of my comfort zone, I not a really adventurous eater. however the drinks look right up my alley :)

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  9. i neeed to go here! my roomie and i say it all the time. i want the shrimp salad and ravioli and all desserts, please! :)

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  10. you had me at :golden beet, creamy goat cheese, tangy pickled onion and chive.

    i lost my mind at the beignets. i would be 700lbs if we hung out!!

    xo,
    c

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  11. Pork belly ravioli for me please!

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