Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Cellar - Movin On Up

The Cellar has been a fixture on Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Square for as long as I can remember. It's always been a great place to grab a beer. Now, with the addition of Garden upstairs, there's also a great place to settle in for a nice dinner.

Open since November, Garden is a self-proclaimed "gastropub" that serves fine food above and beyond your typical "pub grub." You won't find burgers on the menu (although you can get those in The Cellar). Instead, you can look forward to fabulous entrées like the Steak Frites: Grilled Angus Hanger Steak, sweet-garlic spinach, rosemary-truffle fries and parsnip purée. Everything was cooked to perfection. But I'm warning you - the fries are highly addictive. I would absolutely make a trip back just for those. The aroma alone will suck you in.

Other tantalizing items on the menu include the Filet of Salmon with glazed carrots, tarragon-orange emulsion, and potato cake and the Crispy Chicken Breast with homemade tater tots. My dining companion had the latter dish and it was killer. The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside and very moist on the inside. There was some nice jus on the plate to complement it as well. The tater tots are phenomenal. I think there might be cheese in there but not sure. All you really need to know is that they are really, really delicious.

There are also a number of tapas plates on the menu so you could go the small bites route if you prefer. We tried the Warm olives with herbs (again, the herb theme), citrus and spices. The olives were excellent although some of them were warm and some were cold which wasn't ideal. Other choices include: Spanish almonds with sea salt and chilies, Grilled meatballs with thyme and tomato-pumpkin confit and Crispy potatoes with rosemary-Dijon aioli which I wanted to try but I was all carbed out.

Garden's Chef, William D. Gilson, most recently worked at the famed Oleana in Cambridge. But his "roots" in fine ingredients trace back to The Herb Lyceum, a family business in Groton, MA. It's an herb farm with a restaurant on the property that showcases herbs harvested from their greenhouse in their dishes. You can see The Herb Lyceum's influence at Garden in the potted rosemary plants throughout the restaurant and of course on the menu - rosemary in particular seems to be a favorite although it may be because it holds up even at this time of year.

I look forward to making Garden one of my "go to" neighborhood restaurants, right up there with Central Kitchen. I just have to remember to get there early. They do not take reservations and seating is limited - seats about 12 people at the bar and maybe 30 in the rest of the restaurant. The only other downside is that they don't offer dessert, which in some ways may be a blessing.

Garden at the Cellar
991 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.230.5880
Open Tuesday - Saturday, 5pm - 11pm


Anonymous Donna said...

Everything you described sounds great! Must check this place out soon.

8:41 AM  

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