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Mar 20, 2008 01:02 PM

Origin (Somerville) Ups The Ante

It rarely happens. The best and most successful restaurants usually either rest on their laurels or drift downward in quality while hoping nobody notices. Not Somerville Origin. We had lunch there today, and we both agreed that they'd significantly stepped up their game.

Two reasons, maybe. First, they've changed the physical conformation of their lunch menus; the paper and font was different, and a dish here or there was added and subtracted. Second, and more likely, Origin just opened up Origin III in Basking Ridge some 30 minutes North, and just maybe, the Somerville crew decided to prove that the original Origin is still the one.

And it sure is. The mussels in the mussel appetizer were on a par with the best we've had anywhere. Perfectly plump and sublimely seasoned with lemon grass, basil, red and yellow peppers, they had just the right amount of chili heat to leave your lips singing at dishes end. We've had the mussels there a good half dozen times but this dish was special.

We might've considered it coincidence if both the entrees weren't another step up from the usual excellence. We had the Origin Oriental Chicken Salad, and a special Shrimp in Green Curry over wheat noodles. Again, we've had the chicken salad before but the green beans were fresher today with that right-out-of-the-garden snap. The portion, too, was a third larger, served in a different dish. The equally large portion of shrimp in green curry, though, was better still. Perfectly done shrimp which could only have been more flavorful if they'd been cooked with their heads on in a green curry graced with fresh bamboo shoots (so different from the usual crappy-from-the-can kind) and tiny Thai artichokes and green peas, garnished with half of a hard boiled egg. The curry sauce itself had, to our palates, just the right balance of coconut milk, curry and heat. And all this for an after tax/pre-tip price of under $29.00 !!! If we'd paid twice that, we'd still have considered it a bargain. Get to Somerville Origin for lunch while the gettin's still great. Take a sick day from work, if you must, or make up some lame story about an ailing relative, but get there before the staff realizes by how much they've just won the Origin race.

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  1. Lunch is always very very good. Try the massaman crab curry dish oneday

    1 Reply
    1. This is good to know. I rarely go out for lunch but if I'm in Somerville I will most definitely try Origin.

      Do you have the nerve to try Bank 34 across the street to see how their ante is doing? I know you had a bad experience at this place when it was called Madame S but it would be interesting to know how they are doing. As we previously discussed, Origin and Bank 34 have the same owner and, if you believe the reviews, the same chef. I'm not exactly sure how that works. Perhaps the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle would help to explain how the chef can be in two places at once.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ambrose

        LOL! Eureka! That explains it! Problem solved! The Uncertainty Principle states that you can't know both the location and the momentum of a given particle at the same time because measuring one disturbs the other . . so . . . that would mean that the Origin chef can't cook well in both restaurants because if he uses chili paste in one. . . er . . . uh .... something like that. :-)))

      2. Just wanted to add that I was there last friday with a party of 18 (yep) and usually I say everything is excellent, food is out of this world, but the service lacks....well actually, amazingly the service was great this time around, even for a party of 18!

        Food of course was great, girlfriend ordered the ostrich as main entree just to try it as she wasn't much hungry but wanted to try something she hadn't on the menu....she liked it, but didn' t eat much, and they actually, sincerely asked if her meal was ok.

        She had the duck salad for appetizer, and I had my goto curry puffs and wild boar.

        the birthday song is growing on me...

        1 Reply
        1. re: RPMcMurphy

          "the birthday song is growing on me..."

          You have our sympathies! LOL!

          Glad you loved the meal.