Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Revised as of 5/29/07---Conundrum restaurant is now closed.

(Originally posted 10/3/06)

While in Harvard Square last evening, I stopped for dinner at Conundrum, whose sign states they are a restaurant and wine bar. This is a relative new restaurant of which I have read some positive press.

It is a small place, maybe 25-30 seats with a small bar area as well. It looks as if someone's home was turned into a restaurant. This does make it seem homey and intimate.

After being seated, I was brought four pieces of a thick white bread with butter. Very fresh and delicious. A nice start to my dinner. The menu was interesting, with some exotic choices, and the prices seemed reasonable. I decided to go with two appetizers, including Braised Veal Cheeks, with goat cheese, sun dried tomato, polenta & Trio of Game Sausages, including wild boar, pheasant, rabbit and plum chutney. Both these dishes were exquisite. The veal cheeks were tender, tasty and went quite well atop the polenta. There was only a small smudge of goat cheese, though it added abit of tang to the dish. The sausages were halves, and each one was quite delicious while being unique from the others. I would heartily recommend both dishes to anyone. Presentation was also very nice on both dishes.

As this was purported to be a wine bar, I assumed that they would have a good selection of wines by the glass. But that was not the case. They only had about 8 wines (4 white and 4 red) and they were rather mundane choices. Though bottles prices seemed reasonable, about $25-40 for most bottles, the cost was more than twice the retail of some of the bottles I knew. A good wine bar should at least have a better selection of wine by the glass.

I drank fresh brewed iced tea, which was very good. But, when I later got the bill, I found a glass cost $2.75 and they charged me for two glasses. Iced tea probably costs less than a quarter per glass so it is outrageous to charge those prices for it. And to charge for refills is sheer thievery. Nearly every good restaurant I know gives you free refills.

For dessert, I tried an apple spice cake with bourbon spice ice cream. Presentation again was fantastic. It was a tasty dessert but the cake should have been warm. When I mentioned it to the server, he spoke to the chef who claimed it had been warm when he picked it up. The server apologized to me.

Service overall was very good. The server was efficient, prompt and good natured.

Conundrum has some good things going for it, including some excellent food. But, I do think they need to work on their beverages, from the wine to iced tea. Such matters are significant and can diminish an otherwise excellent experience.

56 JFK St
Cambridge, MA
Phone: (617) 868-0335

Conundrum in Cambridge

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