The Independent, Union Square Somerville: Excellent Upscale Tavern Dinner
This small neighborhood cozy spot has seen alot of kitchen changes since opening a few yrs ago. I'm guessing that the pay must be the issue, as a number of talented young chefs seem to have passed through here pretty quickly. ( If you decide to go there in a month or two, you might want to check this thread for updates.)
We had a really good meal - 8:30 Monday night; very quiet. It's much smaller than i remember it; the non-bar side having 3 larger booths and a handful of tables and smaller booths.
I also had no recollection of the tv screens and somewhat loud rock from the bar (separated from the dining room by a half wall w/ openings.) I bet the music is not so noticeable when the room is full of diners, but I must say, the music really seemed incongruous with the food.
-- ZATAR & CORIANDER CRUSTED SEARED TUNA* GRAPEFRUIT, ALFONSO OLIVES, PICKLED SALSIFY, AVOCADO PURÉE ~ 12
"A must" for the server,this odd sounding dish worked delightfully well.
- Croquettes filled w/ ham and fontina, w/ truffle aioli . I could live on these. A bit heavy, but great flavor; the fontina really came through. No need for the aioli though.( Wait, did I say that? Notary Public!)
-- BRAISED PORK CHEEKS SPAGHETTI SQUASH, PICKLED GRAPES, POMEGRANATE JUS ~ 11
You can see that the components here really reveal a good palate; the sweet and sour notes playing off the richness of the pork, with the mild earthiness and texture of the spaghetti squash.
-- GRILLED PORK CHOP BRAISED MUSTARD GREENS, CRISPY SPATZLE, PARSNIP BUERRE BLANC ~ 18
Terrifically well balanced delightful dish. (I wonder if Cina worked somewhere w/ the chef of Foundry on Elm - their delicious spaetzle are near identical )
Chicken pot pie was fine, v. good crust, moist chicken and root veggies, but not memorable.
Portions were very generous. For the amount and quality of the food, we felt pricing was totally reasonable. This chef, Mark Cina, is a talented fellow.
75 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143
Foundry on Elm
255 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144
I want to thow in a good word for the Independent, I went there a couple of Friday's ago for a impromptu celebration, a great grapefruit gimlet, a special "small plate" that we shared with asparagus, mushrooms, pancetta, and a duck egg on top...we also got the special cheeseburger (somehow different that the regular one) which I tried and found really good also (though I'm not a conoissuer) and finally the gnocchi with braised oxtail, some mushrooms, and very thin slices of a salty cheese. We had a really good time and I adored all the food. I went back that Monday is that says anything, ordered the same tuna and gnocchi but also got a really great arugula salad with a homemade bresola and some other crispy bits, it was simple but also really really great. Our drinks, both ginger beer based, were also perfect. Its a nice warm atmosphere, cozy but not too crazy, I'm ready to go back already and try the rest of the menu!
I think The Independent's musical policy goes down well with its regulars (and me). It is Union Square, after all.
Mark Cina left a while ago, sometime last spring. I'm not sure if the "new" guy (Scott somebody) is still there. He had a couple of decent fish dishes there recently (albeit expensive, in the upper 20s) but all in all, I've never though the food was very good here and some of it I found straight-up bad (brunch in particular).
I go for the drinks because it's in my neighborhood and the music because it's often very good, but I've given up on it as a restaurant.
I went there recently - for some reason, the vibe of the dining room side made me think that the food was going to be meh - not sure what it was - just a feeling?
But was pleasantly surprised - DW had the house veggie burger and liked it.
I can't remember what I had (which I guess says something) but I remember liking it.
Sorry that does not help much -
This is one of those places that I want to like, but just has never stuck with me - this includes the Foundry and Gargoyles. Every so often I give it another try, and I guess this stays on the try list.
Actually Foundry and The Indo are owned by the same guy (I know there is partial ownership at both that are different , but it's essentially the same owner). So the fact that menu items seem similar makes sense.