Tried Trade on Friday night. At 6:45, the bar was overflowing with TGIF Financial district employees, but the hostess asked for a cell phone and texted us when two seats opened up at the kitchen seating area.
Grilled squid and fried tentacles with Borlotti beans and vinegar peppers - as Prav notes above, the textures are all perfect and the entire dish has a nice acidity. Lovely.
Pomegranate glazed eggplant with capers, olives and pine nuts - people seem to keep raving about this, and while it's very, very good, it wasn't the best dish of the night. It's just eggplant rounds, folks.
Lamb sausage with eggplant, Manchego, peppers and garlic yogurt - I don't know about the other flatbreads, but this one was so ridiculously delicious we actually considered ordering a second one to cuddle with. Regarding the note above about Flatbread's version - I've always preferred Flatbread's salads to their flatbreads, so that's where my tastes lie.
A cassoulet with confit chicken and housemade sausage, I think - again, the kitchen clearly knows its way around a bean - delightful.
The atmosphere is bustling and I could see that the bar was quite loud, but we were able to hold a conversation easily at the kitchen bar. Our waiter was attentive and informed. 3 small plates and a flatbread left us pleasantly full. I'd definitely go back for their interesting small plates.
The noise level is deafening. The bar was packed at 6:30 and getting a drink was difficult -- forget about talking. In the dining area, the four of us could not have a conversation as we could not talk above the noise. We ate an average tasting meal and were relieved to get outside. Trade is really a bar that happens to have a dining area. On the positive, the space looks fantastic.
Is the noise level as bad at lunch as it seems to be at night? It may be one more bastion of noise that I'll walk in and walk out of without trying it. For me noise, since it is a decision that a restaurants makes, is a message from the owner that they don't want me as their customer. Sad, I was looking forward to trying this one.
There are a few of these deafening places that are easier on the ears and conversation at lunch. Is this one?
Another review...we went to Trade last night. It was still very crowded and loud at 8PM on a Thursday. We arrived about 5 minutes late for our reservation, and waited another 10 minutes for our table. Service was fine.
I like the decor, but it really is loud. I was pretty much unable to carry on a conversation with my dining companion who was right next to me, would have been impossible to talk across the table.
We had mixed feelings about the food. For small plates we had the squid: I thought the beans were too hard, but the squid was delicious and perfectly cooked. Roasted littlenecks with smokey chili nut sauce were very good, but not what I would call smokey tasting. The whole artichoke with preserved lemon aioli was disappointing. I was surprised when it was served cold, but that was okay. It just wasn't cooked long enough, the leaves were really tough, and even the bottom was hard to cut through. And maybe because its off season, the artichoke was just tasteless.
We had the baked rigatoni with lamb ragu which I thought was excellent. the skirt steak with frites was good, but unremarkable. The side of brussel sprouts actually comes with the same sauce as the littlenecks and I thought it was better here. The sprouts might have been our favorite part of the meal.
For dessert the ginger ice cream with taza chili chocolate sauce was heavenly...oh that definitely WAS the best part of the meal. The espresso was excellent as well.
Overall, i thought it was good, but not great...a little hit or miss on the food. I might go back if I'm in the neighborhood again, but the noise is really off-putting.
540 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02210
I took my girl for her special birthday dinner last night. The space is beautiful, but our table wasn't ready until 20 minutes after our reserved time, during which we sat around.
Service was friendly. We over ordered.
-Grilled squid and fried tentacles with Borlotti beans and vinegar peppers: Fantastic. The beans were firm, with a few breaded crunchy baby tentacles, and perfect consistency grilled rings. Nice bright, fresh, olive-tinged taste.
-Fried dough with parmesan, prosciutto and anchovies: This was a standout. We weren't sure what to expect. What came was a light, fluffy puffy unctuous disc dusted with parmesan, flavored faintly of anchovy (no discernible anchovies - I was glad for that). Very delicate and subtle umami flavor, with a few tears of prosciutto atop. It was lovely and intriguing.
-Braised pork shoulder with polenta, poblano pepper sauce: Generous slabs of fatty pork, alternating with wedges of smooth polenta, covered in rich pork jus and a coarse pepper sauce. Very nice, and very filling, for a small plate.
-Wellfleet clam chowder with crispy pancetta: This was a complete dud. It was lukewarm, for one. Huge bowls of thin, watery leek soup, with quarter-size white potato slices, and a few chunky bits of clam. Three measly 2 cm scraps of bacon thrown on top. We had these taken off the bill.
-We tried the flatbread: Mussels, tomato, leeks, with saffron and garlic. This was underwhelming. The mussels were sparse (and dried out, as mussels on pizza tend to be), and the pizza was slathered (excessively) with a bright orange/pink mayo, which I assume was supposed to be the saffron. It was somewhat tasteless - I certainly did not sense any saffron. Very mediocre, unfortunately.
-Baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone: This was delicious, but not $22 delicious. An (larger than expected) iron skillet with firm and dry rigatoni, with nice baked crusty edges. The ragu had a nice lamb-y flavor, but we could have used more of it - it was a bit sparse.
-TRADE burger with pancetta, Vermont cheddar, and grilled onion. By the time this came, we were stuffed to the brim, and only tried a few bites. It was fairly decent, nothing special. Big softball-type burger on a glossy brioche bun. I do not remember any pancetta, now that I think about it. Big starchy fries that lacked crunch.
-They serve some fantastic variety of local ginger beer, brewed in Fall River, with a nice, piquant gingery dry bite! DC ordered a cocktail with it.
$102 for two people (1 cocktail).
Overall impressions: Very nice space. Order the small plates. Try the first three small plates I wrote about above and avoid the chowder. The burger and the lamb ragu entree were good but not spectacular.
Had lunch at Trade for the first time this week. Probably the last time...for awhile, at least. Horridly slow service, for which our wait person apologized over and over. Had Atlantic char and skirt steak. Both memorably bland and uninteresting. Nice view of the Greenway, though.
Went and absolutely adored the pomegranate-glazed eggplant, avocado with peanut chutney, and the fluke tartar. Oddly, we preferred the appetizers over the much-heralded flatbreads (which were very good, but didn't have the startling, unusual flavor combos of the appetizers). Also very much enjoyed the service!!
Went last night for dinner. Loud, for sure, in part because of the massive bar that takes up much of the space. In contrast, the glassed-in side room was a little on the depressing side (close-up view of the kitchen and wait-station).
Small plates are exceptionally tiny. We could have used 6 of them for our table of 4 (which is staggering given the prices). Also presentation was weak -- the fluke was splayed out in bits with a few herb leaves on top and looked very unappetizing. Squid was tasty but miniscule. Lamb sausage flatbread was fine, but not as good as a similar dish at the Flatbread chain. At least with the flatbread we got more than a mouthful each, though. Unexpectedly, the best appetizer we had was the fried dough w/ prosciutto - great texture and flavor.
Main courses were also underwhelming -- whole fish (scup) was bony and hard to eat; lobster was not really grilled and was swimming in sauce; and short ribs were a bit small and dry. We had been informed by the waiter that the sides would be inadequate (that also drives me crazy, at these prices) and were encouraged to order an extra side. The brussels sprouts we chose were charred and bitter, but the accompanying sauce was tasty. Apple crostada for dessert was good.
Overall disappointing and not a great value. Had we not know this was a Jody Adams restaurant, we never would have guessed based on the food. Won't be back, except maybe for a drink and (very) small plate after work.
We went a couple of weeks ago - the first or second day after it opened. It was what you'd expect from a restaurant that soon after opening: underwhelming. I can't remember anything we ate (all from the small plates part of the menu). The decor feels incohesive to me, though the size of the space and the windows are impressive. Not hurrying back - I'll wait 'til I hear lots of sustained raves.
Excellent early impressions. Kind of like a cross between Oleana (drawing from all around the Mediterranean perimeter) and Coppa (lots of small plates, strong little wood-oven thin-crust flatbreads) but with a more downtown feel. A few unexpected Southeast and South Asian flavors here and there.
Good-looking room, sort of industrial, rather loud. Decent mid-high prices (so far): small plates, soups, salads $8-11, flatbreads $11-16, a $16 burger, entrees $22-31, $5-7 sides. Okay cocktails, decently broad wine list. Good, informal service. Goin' back.
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118