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Four thumbs up for West Side Lounge

DavisSquare Oct 7, 2007 01:40 PM

So the kids are in bed, and the grandparents are babysitting, time to go out and eat. The only problem, it's a beautiful Saturday night, about 8:30 and we're hungry but have no reservations. Solution, eat at the bar.

Our third try was West Side Lounge where we haven't been for a while since our friend who lived next door moved away. Drinks were delicious and made with a flair: mojito was very minty and not too sweet, and a caipirinha was tart and strong, delicious, and watching the bartender work was a lot of fun. Two salads were fine, DC's caesar with anchovies was not very flavorful, and my "simple salad" had a delicious lemon vinaigrette over a pretty basic pile of greens. The bread came with roasted garlic in oil which was tasty but could have been better if the oil had had a more assertive olive flavor to balance the garlic. DC's mussels with a cream broth were declared delicious and every last drop of the broth was sopped up. The star of the show for me, though, was the swordfish. It was like piscine bacon: salty and crispy on top, moist in the middle. Black and green olives added just the right saltiness to the orzo underneath, with a very flavorful baby artichoke on each side. Delicious! Bread pudding for dessert with large chunks of fig and a hint of chocolate somewhere. Great bar service, attentive when required but not overly chatty, and the music wasn't too loud which has been a problem for us there in the past. Total for two with drinks and tip was just under $100.

Now WSL is sometimes on the list of ChowHound recommendations for Cambridge, but I haven't seen much about it here recently, which is a shame since the food, and in particular the fish, is excellent. Other than our swordfish and mussels, there was haddock, salmon, tuna, fish tacos, and crab cakes on the menu, about half the main courses.

Four thumbs up.

  1. k
    katielp Oct 11, 2007 01:11 PM

    I'm glad you posted this. WSL seemed to have a bad patch about a year ago, but my last three visits (in the last month) have all been as good as the experience you describe. The slightly rare in the middle salmon on mashed potatoes with asparagus is an excellent dish; classic, comforting and utterly simple. The salad with blue cheese and walnuts and wafer thin slices of pear is another favorite, along with the mussels, the fries (with addictive aioli), and the brilliant cinnamon sangria. The only thing I haven't much liked were the tiny fried crabcakes which were too crispy and fried to have much flavor. And the prices seem to be about the same as they were five years ago!

    1. p
      Posenose Oct 10, 2007 05:32 PM

      I had been meaning to post on this a few weeks ago after we went for the first time. I am a longtime Cantabrigian, and yet for some reason had never made it there until just recently. It was great! Too bad I've wasted all this time not going there! The fish tacos were amazing, as was the goat cheese, beet and arugula salad. And the price is certainly right. Also had the roasted pear bellini to drink which was great. It was very full when we were there on a Friday night- filled up early and quickly. I'll definitely go back.

      1. n
        newhound Oct 8, 2007 02:24 PM

        Good to hear. WSL used to one of our neighborhood favorites, but then it seemed to go downhill-- a change in chef, a lot of new waitstaff who seemed less interested in their work, and weaker execution.

        Our last couple tries have been more like what you report. We'll have to go soon again, especially with the fish-heavy menu you describe.

        1. s
          sugarmonster Oct 7, 2007 03:00 PM

          It's funny that you posted this today since it was on my mind to write about it. I've been a big fan of WSL - great drinks and meals at a decent price (they need to seriously work on dessert though). However recently whenever I've gone there or walked by (today included) it's been dead, and I mean almost completely vacant, and I wonder what they're doing wrong...

          2 Replies
          1. re: sugarmonster
            c
            cambridgeMike Oct 8, 2007 07:27 AM

            thanks for the update. i really do love west side lounge. and sugar, it also saddens me when i walk by and no one is in there yet Temple Bar is filled. WSL is so much better than Temple Bar in every regard IMO.

            1. re: cambridgeMike
              DavisSquare Oct 8, 2007 07:32 AM

              Yea, we noticed that too on Saturday. WSL wasn't empty, but they did seat us right away at 8:30 on a beautiful Saturday night, albeit at the end corner of the bar, and it was definitely getting thin in there when we left. Temple bar, a bastion of mediocrity, was hopping. Admittedly, they have very attractive outdoor seating, which was full, but the food is miserable. I shouldn't complain too much though, since we did end up with a fantastic meal on short notice without reservations...

          2. StriperGuy Oct 7, 2007 01:43 PM

            I love everything about the place!

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