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May 3, 2010 07:04 AM

Bergamot - outstanding!

Friends and I decided to check out Bergamot Saturday night, the new restaurant in the old EVOO space in Somerville. What a delight! The food was uniformly well done - I had the quail appetizer, which was one of the most tender, juicy versions I've had in a while (and you quail lovers know how easy it is to overcook this delicate little bird), prepared with slivers of meaty bacon, grapes, walnuts, and tiny, tasty mushrooms (honshimeji, says the menu).

For a main I had the braised rabbit leg, which turned out to be parsley-flecked pappardelle served with a rabbit ragu, the savory shredded meat mixed with fresh peas and carrots. The sauce was delicious and the pasta perfectly chewy.

For dessert, the chili-chocolate pave was a winner - a dense, rich rectangle of smooth fudge-like dark chocolate, with just enough guajillo chile to add a nice zing, without becoming overwhelmingly fiery.

And the best part - the portions were sized such that I could enjoy all three courses and leave comfortably satisfied, not overstuffed. What a treat!

My dining companions were equally pleased with their choices. The standouts were a lobster sunchoke bisque, fresh sardines (one of my wife's favorites, not an easy dish to find around here), grilled flatiron steak, and seared scallops (so fresh and sweet!).

Service was friendly and professional. The chef and co-owner, Keith Pooler, has worked at Scampo and Harvest., and is thrilled to be running his own kitchen. Both he and his partner/manager Servio Garcia came out to chat with us toward the end of the evening.

The tab, including cocktails, plenty of wine, after-dinner drinks, tax & tip, came to about $110 per person - very reasonable for a meal of this caliber. Plus - they offer a $39 three-course special, available 5:30 to 7 most nights, all evening on Sunday and Monday.

We can't wait to come back!

118 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

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  1. I too just had a fabulous meal at Bergamot. Both the food and the service were outstanding.
    I often find dining out to be rather perilous as I have very sensitive celiac disease. The staff at Bergamot were very accommodating and reassuring, and many items on the menu were gluten-free already. As far as I know, no substitutions needed to be made on the dishes I ordered and if there were it was seamless.
    We started the meal off with cocktails, which were nicely balanced. I especially enjoyed the tart freshness of the Cooperstown.
    The duck, duck, duck and the quail appetizers were both perfectly cooked, moist and flavorful, as was my entree of Halibut, and nicely garnished. For dessert we split the almond milk panna cotta with rhubarb. Delicious.
    As mentioned in the first review, the portions are for savoring not stuffing. Classy joint.

    118 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

    22 Replies
    1. re: caserole

      I like that turn of phrase - "the portions are for savoring not stuffing." If only more places took that approach!

      1. re: BobB

        If only more customers shared your attitude...

        1. re: almansa

          Alas, we ate at Bergamot again a few days ago (this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite restaurants in town) and the entree portions were noticeably larger - still not huge, but enough that I had to leave some incredibly succulent duck-fat-confited pork loin on my plate in order to save room for dessert.

          I asked the server about it and she said that they'd had to increase the size, particularly on the meat entrees, due to customer complaints. Damn gluttonous Americans!

          At least the quality remains high. The sweetbreads starter was one of the best sweetbreads preparations I've ever tasted - panko-crusted, served with slices of preserved squash, honshimeiji mushrooms (seems to be a theme ingredient for the chef), and some sort of tiny diced vegetables. Utter savory goodness!

          1. re: BobB

            I'm sure if you requested reduced portion size for your meal, they would be happy to accomodate you!

            1. re: barleywino

              But that would only work if I knew in advance exactly what to expect. The couple sitting next to us got their entrees while we were still perusing the menu and they looked more reasonable - but they were scallops. She did say it was mainly the meat ones that had grown.

              It's not that big a deal, I only mentioned it because we had this earlier discussion (above) about how nice it was to get portions suitable for three-course dining.

              Where I'd REALLY like to be able to order smaller portions is at high-end steak houses, where I often find myself for business dinners. Often the only steak available under 16 ounces is a filet mignon, which I find a particularly boring and bland cut.

              1. re: BobB

                yes i would much rather have 4 oz of Kobe beef than 16 oz of filet or even ribeye!

                1. re: BobB

                  does it make me a cretin that i had 3 courses there and didn't feel it was too much? :)

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Had three courses per person and I thought the portion sizes were perfect here for the duck and the fish entrees about a month ago... I wonder if that was before or after the change. Anyhow, it was the first visit to this great, great restaurant. The lobster corn soup was out of this world, sardine appetizer was OK but still satisfying, and both the duck and cod entrees were fantastic, especially the cod which came with fava beans and had a sweet and light buttery sauce that made it sing.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      depends what you ordered to drink ;)

                      1. re: barleywino

                        I usually drink to cretin levels anyways, so ... :)

                      2. re: jgg13

                        Helps me if you're one of those hypermetabolic people who can eat a lot...I'm trying to get a sense of whether I'd be hungry after eating here but it sounds good enough to try ;-)
                        I'm not interested in Barbara Lynch style appetizer sized entrees unless they're on a decent sized tasting menu...

                        1. re: Spike

                          I went in late spring, which I'm guessing is pre-change. They certainly were not teensy little portions - I was sated, I'm just saying that I wasn't waddling around afterwards saying, "owwwwww i'm soooo full" which I am sometimes wont to do.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            That's how I was last summer - the change is more recent.

                            1. re: jgg13

                              LOL...I've found that the waddling thing happens if I eat too fast so my stomach doesn't get a chance to tell me it's full until 1/2 later :-)
                              Good to know you hit it before the portion sizes increased a little...I'm looking forward to hitting it...will report back when I do...

                    2. re: BobB

                      Happens to the best of them, to my similar dismay. I remember when Prezza had sensible portions sizes: now everything is North End huge, and I really don't care for that. We deal with it there by sharing one antipasto, primo, and secondo between two people. I blame the Cheesecake Factories of the world.


                      24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                      1. re: BobB

                        ditto! we ate there on Tuesday night and I also noticed the portions sizes had increased from a few weeks ago - makes me quite sad as it was just perfect before...
                        Still my utterly favorite place to eat though....

                        1. re: BobB

                          I went to Bergamot again last night. I concur they are serving bigger mains and that's alright with me!

                          Had the sweetbreads appetizer which was great -- nicely cooked (not overdone) and those slightly chewy mushrooms were a lovely foil for the creamy nuggets of sweetbreads. A toasted shiso pepper on top made for a lovely contrast and pretty plate.

                          I had the scallops for my main, and there were 7 or 8 medium sized scallops (not those huge guys). Perfectly seared and served over sunchoke puree that was luscious. Lots of tangles of fresh chervil, which I loved. My friend had the gnocchi, which I didn't think was very good. A bit heavy and floury tasting for me, although she liked it a lot and finished the quite large portion. We shared a chocolate pave for dessert.

                          Funny thing was we were offered the "before 7 p.m. blackboard special" at 7:30. When my DC inquired if we could still order it, the waiter said he doesn't have a watch and as far as he knew, it was still 6:30. Not sure how the kitchen would have liked that, but maybe they do extend the specials as long as they have the goods. Last night's goods included skate, but sadly not on the bone and the choice of sides didn't appeal (a red cabbage dish that was described as a slightly sweet cole slaw. I'll pass.) I like my skate on the bone and recently had a lovely version at Gaslight so I was happy to skip it.

                          The place was packed at 7:15 and even more packed by 9:30 when we rolled out. I'd like to go back and sit at the bar one night .. looks like a cozy spot to take advantage of their early bird special ... such a deal.

                          1. re: yumyum

                            My only gripe is they don't update their menu on the website. They do a great job with Twitter, tweeting the nightly specials, but I like to peruse a menu and drool over a meal before I get to the place -- anticipation is a great appetizer. For a place that changes things up regularly, maybe it's too much to ask, but the current online menu is definitely from summer 2010 and nothing on it is currently on offer.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I'm with you on that. I also will sometimes check a restaurant's menu online after I've eaten there and before I post about it to make sure I list the ingredients of a dish correctly, especially if they included something I'm not that familiar with - like honshimeiji mushrooms, the first time I had them here.

                              1. re: BobB

                                Exactly. I'm sure I'm not remembering every item in the dishes I had. Wish I could reference something online. I think I might be old-fashioned. Twitter is where it's AT.

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  I felt similarly about my dinner at Bergamot. I got really excited about the Duck, Duck, Duck appetizer and the Grapefruit dessert thing after looking at the website, but then we got there and I felt very sad for 3 seconds. Then I saw all the other delicious-sounding things that weren't on the website menu and my sadness went away.

                            2. re: yumyum

                              I really enjoyed the blackboard special of cod in brown butter, mustard and fried capers. The drinks I've had there have been well-balanced too and Paul from Craigie is a welcome addition to their bar staff.

                    3. You guys beat me to it! I was there last Friday and we also had an excellent meal and beyond just the meal, a really excellent experience. My DC was delayed by the volcanic ash over Spain, and when the other 3 in our party arrived for our reservation we let them know that he'd be joining us midstream and was in a cab en route from Logan. I only mentioned this to the hostess, but this information was quickly dispersed to the server and manager and at least 3 people welcomed him when he finally arrived and asked about his flight and whether he needed a drink immediately. I just can't say enough about the service-- our waiter was also super-accomodating of my request for a preggertini and the bartender made an excellent mocktail for me. (Our first choice for dinner that night had been Oleana, and last time we were there, my request for something non-alcoholic using some of their bar mixers and soda water was declined by the bartender with the explanation that "we're short on ingredients." I mean, it's not like I asked for a free drink...I found that pretty off-putting and surprising at Oleana which is usually known for fantastic service)

                      Briefly on food- everyone was very happy with their meals. I loved the salad with pea shoots and poached egg on top-- beautifully dressed and seasoned. The other standout for me was the grapefruit thing dessert- really interesting flavors, and for someone who usually defines dessert as "chocolate," I would order this again. I thought their prices were right on target.

                      I hope they do well, and we'll definitely be back. I just saw they were the featured diner for a day spot on NECN's TV diner (no, I don't usually watch this- was just looking to check the weather...) and also got great press, so I'm guessing they're going to get busier fast.

                      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Parsnipity

                        As much as I normally loathe the -tini names, I *love* the term 'preggertini', too funny.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Agreed. I can't claim to have come up with it. I was at Gargoyles asking for anything in a cocktail glass that a pregnant lady could drink so as to feel included and the waiter was like "oh, you mean a 'preggertini'" I hope it comes into wider parlance and I'll do my best over the next 6 mos.

                          1. re: Parsnipity

                            Can't be caught watching TV Diner, what would Chowhound think?

                            1. re: Joanie

                              I don't watch a lot of food TV -- dreading having to put some time in on Hell's Kitchen with two Boston chefs on the next round -- but I do watch TV Diner and the Phantom Gourmet every week. I would be happier if someone on staff was eager to pitch in on Billy's food-word pronunciations (there's a howler or two every week: he said "carno asada" the other day), and more Phantom shows were as interesting and non-whoring as the recent one where the behind-the-scenes staffers got to air their favorite picks.

                              It was pretty entertaining watching Barbara Lynch on TV Diner this week. They visited every one of her restaurants: it must have taken a day or two to tape the whole thing, and she was smiling and friendly through the early going, but you could tell she was increasingly bored, distracted and fed up with the whole thing by the end of it.


                          2. Just remembered one other nice touch - instead of the usual butter or EVOO (or my personal restaurant pet peeve, crappy olive oil loaded with a mishmash of herbs and seasonings), the bread was served with a small dish of beet and chevre puree. Most unusual and really tasty, the sweetness of the beets perfectly balancing the tartness of the fresh goat cheese.

                            1. We have eaten at Bergamot three times now, and it has been near perfect each time. The only disappointment I have experienced is that they have already taken the tuna carpaccio off the menu. The reason we were given is that they could not source the quality they wanted (?). Otherwise fantastic. We've had almost everything on the menu. Standouts for me are the Duck app, the halibut with favas, the beet salad, the scallops - the desserts are wonderful (and I am not a sweet person). i particularly like that grapefruit dessert. We have had Danny as our server each time. He and the rest of the staff are great. Servio is hands on and it shows - the restaurant benefits from his graciousness and care.

                              1. I agree, we also had a great dinner there last weekend! Had (between two) the quail, pea shoots, lamb, halibut, and chocolate dessert. My only complaint was with the ratio of ice cream to dense chocolate slab, and that it was so busy it was a little stressful watching everyone race frantically around! (We were sitting at the bar.) They took the dessert off the bill because they had just run out of several dishes we tried to order, which seemed completely unnecessary and nice. The halibut was REALLY good--the sauce made from onions or something? Mmmmm. We had some fiddleheads, too.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                  Oh that's right - those fiddleheads!! We received a complimentary portion last time we were in. Those were fantastic. Simple and delicious! ALSO - because we had two complimentary drink certificates from an earlier visit, my husband had two delicious cocktails - wish I could say what they were - I forget. But he likes a good cocktail and not a cloying booze-light drink. He said both of these were fantastic and that the bartender had a deft hand. FWIW.