Thursday, August 5, 2010

Latest but not least, East by Northeast

East by Northeast, chef Phillip Tang’s latest entry to the burgeoning Inman Square-area restaurant Mecca, has been getting rave reviews in publications throughout the city since it opened late last year. While  the modern Chinese cuisine is worthy of applause, the drinks menu deserves a closer look as well. Like the restaurant itself — there are only 25 seats in the dining room and four at the small wooden bar overlooking an open kitchen — the drinking options here are narrowly focused. There are two wines, a handful of local craft beers and five cocktails from which to choose. With no dedicated bartender on staff, the cocktails are mixed by servers from recipes designed by the chef. Options like the #2 are made with quality spirits like Elijah Craig bourbon and mixed with house-made mint syrup and bottled soda. The #3 is a Matusalem 10-year rum, with house-made ginger soda and lime. Both are clean and lightly carbonated with the mint and ginger syrups carrying the workload.

Like with his cooking style, Tang starts with quality ingredients and keeps things simple, so the flavors present themselves. “It’s relatively straightforward, but with good ingredients,” he says. “We don’t carry a lot of different types of liquors, so we try to streamline it as much as possible.” That means also using the syrups in non-alcoholic options too, like a cilantro lime and ginger soda or a mint and oolong iced tea.
What he’s having
The cilantro lime soda, which is also used in the #5 cocktail with Hendrick’s gin, has a soothing, cool effect that might come in handy with some of Tang’s spicier dishes. “With the cilantro kind of adding a grassy note to the gin, it’s a nice, balanced drink. And it’s pretty light and refreshing as well for the hot summer.”

East by Northeast
1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge

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