Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Book Reviews

I just finished doing my 200th bar, restaurant, shop and hotel review for Black Book. Not going to repost them all, but go check them out over there if you're looking for a place to go. Or for some corny jokes.

Rafiki Bistro

* 1682 Massachusetts Ave.
* (Sacremento St.)
* 617-661-7810

* www.rafikibistro.com

For a bistro aiming to serve mostly organic menu options with a focus on vegetarian and vegan dishes, this new bistro couldn't have picked a better neighborhood. The hippies and limousine liberals of Cambridge will eat it up. Opening for breakfast and lunch every day sets them apart from like-minded spots on either side, The West Side Lounge and Temple Bar, both of whom Rafiki seems to have taken a few notes on. The interior is great looking, although coming after the divey, but beloved, Forrest Cafe that used to be here, almost anything would look pretty.


Bergamot

* 118 Beacon St.
* (Berkeley St.)
* 617-576-7700

* www.bergamotrestaurant.com

Bergamot aims to bring some much needed sophistication back to the comfy, but under-utilized Kirkland and Beacon Streets neighborhood. Room has upscale rustic pantry feel, and appears to be striving for a level of service that transcends informality. They're also calling themselves "Progressive American Cuisine" which can mean anything. Here, it means roasted lamb loin with caramelized spring onions, black trumpet mushrooms, faro risotto and stinging nettle sauce or a salad of baby roasted beets with local cheese curd, shiso, apricot ginger puree and toasted walnuts.

East by Northeast

* 1128 Cambridge St.
* 617-876-0286

* www.exnecambridge.com

You can discern the method behind the madness in this restaurant's name. East, meaning, you know, the Far East, and Northeast, being a testament to its focus on New England ingredients. The two concepts meet in Inman Square, an area that's become the latest restaurant haven. Chef Phillip Tang, an alum of standouts Lumière and Hungry Mother, brings the small plates approach to hand-rolled dumplings and noodles. Beef, veal and pork are locally sourced and come from sustainable farms. All of which wouldn't mean anything if the food wasn't actually good. It is.


El Pelón Taqueria

* 2197 Commonwealth Ave.
* (Lake St. and St Thomas More Rd.)
* 617- 779-9090

* www.elpelon.com

When a fire took out much of the Fenway block on which the old El Pelón was located it came as a huge blow. For the owners, sure, but also for the loyal following of burrito-heads and hungry college kids who made eating here on the cheap a daily practice. The new locale shifts the focus to the Boston College area, where we're pretty sure they'll be able to find more than a few converts to old favorites like the pescado tacos (crispy cornmeal and spice encrusted cod topped with arbol chile mayo, limed onions, pickled cabbage and cucumbers).

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