Birthday dinner 3 at Garden at the Cellar-Great food, Not good for Groups, Service so-so but will be back in a heart beat!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden at the Cellar
991 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-5328
(617) 230-5880

Service (3.9/5.0)

Food (4.0/5.0)
*Good for Birthdays?: No, small groups and full parties only. No reservations either.

Even though it was a chill chill dinner on a weekday and the place was hardly full, we were not seated until our full party of 4 arrived, which was uncomfortable since 2 of us were standing for 20++ minutes in front of a restaurant of seated people. Finally, my friend and I hopped on to newly-available bar seats and then waiting became more bearable because we didn't stick out as much. Service was friendly enough but the host, although somewhat cute, didn't seem to care. He seemed distracted in a mindless, drone-y way. Our waitress looked bored as she rattled off the specials for the evening on a notepad. The same waitress later spent a good chunk of her time at the door with her friends who came in just to chat (not dine), a foot away from our table. Yes its a chill gastropub, but when we're close enough to hear full details of your life when we don't know you, it's not that ok. Now if your convos was interesting, then...maybe fine.

First off, good good food. Reasonable prices, execution and technique, plating, seasoning were all faultless. I consider G@TC a relatively undiscovered, Cambridge neighborhood gem. Only gripe I have is that they don't have dessert!!! What a waste of the full dining experience, even with their complementary Taza chocolates. But like Russell House Tavern, I will be back for more. Berryline is around the corner! I opted for small plates while the rest of my party had main entrees, which were surprisingly more delicious and interesting-tasting than how they were described on the menu.

Famed Rosemary-Truffle Fries. FYI we ordered 2 servings because they were so hot and crispy and there was intense truffle flavor that i liked.)

(Chickpea Fries brown butter, fried sage, preserved lemon. Fresh and hot and was surprisingly firmer than  expected, thinking it was chickpea paste they were deep-frying. The fried sage gave the earthy chickpea an interesting flavor)

(Pork Rinds, compliments of the chef. Was good but forgettable. I prefer my Singaporean rendered lard-on's in oil)
(Seared Foie Gras & Doughnuts rhubarb, pickled ramps-one of my favorites. The doughnuts had a nice custardy center and the fluffyness of it de-cloyed the richness of the foie gras when taken together. The pickled ramps, while nice and pretty, were too crunchy and over-powering for the delicate silken texture of the seared foie gras.)

(Bacon Wrapped Dates goat cheese and curried apple hash- I disliked this dish the most because the dates were sweet + curried apple hash was sweet + bacon was sweet. I felt like I was eating dessert, and not in a good way.)
(House Special. Ragout of Rabbit with Poached egg.-Rabbit was tender. Loved the poached egg! Alas I slurped it up in 1 sitting, leaving behind broth that was flavorful but was TOO salty.  Perhaps buttered toast might do the trick.)
(House Special. Blue Fish Pate with toast-Very light and chewy chunks of fish. I like! Not at all paste-y and doesn't stick to your tongue/teeth like other glue-y pates. Pine nuts added an unexpected buttery crunch.)
(Bucatini “Carbonara” smoked onions, spring vegetables, Parmesan, poached egg-This was ok, but needs more salt. )
(Pan Roasted Grouper celery root purée, asparagus, pea shoots, salsa verde-Nice pairing of fried slivers of fish and a swipe of celery root puree.)
(Slow Cooked Chicken Breast.artichokes barigoule, leek cream, fregola, lemon.-This was OBVIOUSLY cooked Sous Vide! because it was very tender and had a tiniest hint of pink in the center! I almost never order chicken breast and this surprised me alot because it was so so good and moist. WOW!)


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