Saturday, October 2, 2010

creature comforts in Boston

New job has been full of learning curves! Thrilling, anxiety-inducing, curly-wurly learning curves. But it's also been full of friendly, nerdly people, being encouraged to tweet for fun & profit, and a trip to Boston during which the aforementioned nice people introduced me to restaurants with delicious foods.

My first night in town, after a ridiculously long day of travel/office shenanigans, extraface, @rubicantekid, and I grabbed pre-collapse dinner at Chutney's, which lives in a tiny food court space in The Garage on Harvard Square. It's an Indian fast-food sandwich shop -- like Subway (a franchise of which the owner also runs), except the breads you choose from include naan, roti, and paratha, the components you choose from include aloo chana, basmati rice, lamb kabob, and chicken tikka, and I've never been offered tamarind chutney at a Subway. I got the paneer tikka with rice, tomato, cucumber, and mint & tamarind chutneys on naan. They smooshed the ingredients inside the naan and then toasted the whole thing in a panini press, and it was near-terrifyingly unabashed comfort/junk food, the textures all gradients of soft and the flavors warm & savory-sweet with just a touch of heat. I very much recommend the place to hungry students and weary travelers.

The following night, with a bit more planning & wherewithal, extraface, Ian, and I headed to Central Kitchen in Cambridge on Central Square. Tucked into a space no larger than Brick Store minus the Belgian Bar, Central Kitchen's cozily dim tables and short, seasonal menu of increasingly intriguing comfort foods made me feel instantly at home. The craft cocktail list, beginning with the old-standard Aviation, helped too. My Tom Collins concocted with house-made rosemary simple syrup was somehow refreshing and savory at the same time in a way that was lovely rather than conflicting.

For food, Ian and I shared a daily-special appetizer of spreadably soft, creamy chicken livers with rich balsamic gravy and a kick of sweet & sour cooked berryish things (currents, maybe?) over soft, just-caramelized toast -- which was pretty much transcendental. Dave had the cocktail shrimp, which were elegantly presented and reportedly delicious. My entree of seafood bouillabaisse was a tad bit salty, but the squid, mussels, and clams were all perfectly chewy-tender, and the cod, shrimp, tomatoes, and saffron conspired to make the broth both bright & rich. We tried two of the desserts -- a baked chocolate pudding that was nearly sensory overload (think solid, spoonable hot chocolate) and a deceptively simple butter cake with berry sauce (like a warmer, denser berry shortcake). I absolutely recommend Central Kitchen to gastro-geeks.

Let me know if there's anywhere in particular I need to go the next time I'm up Boston-way!

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