Things I look for in a restaurant: Good atmosphere. Low pretension factor (I loathe “haute cuisine”). Good, interesting food. Cool space.
Not exactly rocket science, but often harder to find than you would think, especially inside the Harvard/Central square bubble. Which is why I broke out and ventured to Kendall Square to check out West Bridge, a new(ish) restaurant that’s been getting great buzz as a foodie destination and all around cool place to eat.
Walking up to the space I knew I’d made the right call – the restaurant is open, bright and lively. There’s a mix between long, communal tables and separate ones reserved for people who’d prefer a more private dining experience. For the ultimate in privacy, you can reserve the chef’s private room, which tucks you and 14 of your friends away from the masses. And, although its getting a bit too chilly to enjoy now, there’s a large outdoor dining space for the warmer months. Inside the restaurant, the overall decor has a warm, yet industrial and minimalist feel, which is a perfect counterpart to the modern and forward-thinking food.
Co-owner and chef Matthew Gaudet has crafted a frequently changing menu that focuses on local ingredients prepared in new and inventive ways. The place is famous for their “egg in a jar” — a delicious concoction of milled potatoes, the aforementioned egg, and hen of the woods mushrooms which are cooked to perfection using the sous vide method, and then topped with a sprinkling of crispy duck skin. All I have to say is try it — you won’t be sorry.
Other standouts include the rich and delicious duck liver terrine, the indulgent braised short ribs served with blue cheese, the mussels steamed with butter and uni (to die for), and the calamari, which is cut into thin strips of noodles that you’d swear were ramen. For the vegetarians, there are a variety of options — definitely try the carrots and quinoa — perfectly roasted carrots nestled on a layer of whipped goat cheese and nutty quinoa. One word: yum.
Lest we forget about the desserts, go for the spin on a s’more — layers of chocolate panna cotta, house-made marshmallow fluff, miso syrup, and graham cracker crumbs. Salty, sweet, creamy, gooey goodness. The pink peppercorn bread pudding was also a standout — the perfect balance savory, spicy and sweet. If drinks are your thing, the restaurant also has an inventive cocktail menu and well-priced wine list, courtesy of bar manager Josh Taylor, formerly of Eastern Standard.
From the fab food, to the cool atmosphere and the impeccable service, West Bridge is a must visit. Bring friends – the more people you bring, the more justification you have for trying absolutely everything on the menu (it’s that good). Word to the wise: arrive on an empty stomach and forget your daily calorie counts while you’re there – light this food is not, but worth every delicious morsel it is.
Must try dishes:
Egg in a jar
The braised short rib
The duck liver terrine
Prices: Not wallet-breaking, but not cheap eats either. Save it for a special occasion with a large group of friends or if you’re trying to “wine and dine” a special someone.
Restaurant Info: 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge | 617-945-0221 | westbridgerestaurant.com
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 am-12 am; Sat.-Sun., 3 pm-12 am
Parking: Garage and street