Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bergamot: Creative & Compelling

Last evening, I fulfilled one of my New Year's resolutions: dining at Bergamot.  Bergamot, located in Somerville, opened last year and has received many raves.  I have wanted to dine there for some time, but just never made it there until last night.  And now I can't wait to return.

When you walk into this medium-sized restaurant, your initial impression is positive. There is an ambiance of casual elegance and comfort, a very welcoming vibe with an attractive decor.  There is a small bar area in one corner, seating around 10 people, and a partially open kitchen area in another corner.  The tables are spaced just enough away from each other that you have an element of privacy. 

Though I did not order any wine, I reviewed their wine list, and found it very compelling, with the addition of an eclectic mix of some more esoteric wines.  Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes, Coturri wines from Texas, Jura wines, and much more.  Wine lovers will find much to intrigue their palate, and many prices actually seemed reasonable for a restaurant, maybe only twice retail.  There is much I want to try when I return here.   

Their cuisine is Progressive American Cuisine, which is still a relatively new cuisine and undergoing definition.  But, in general, it is a cuisine that starts with classical French techniques but uses regional American ingredients.  Bergamot uses many local ingredients, and their menu often changes, reflecting the variable availabilty of certain ingredients. 

The menu has Appetizers ($10-$12) and Entrees ($22-$27), around seven or so of each.  Plus, there is a Blackboard Special, a set three-course dinner for $39.  There is plenty of variety on the menu, with dishes including vegetarian, beef, poultry, seafood and more.  Much of the cuisine has an interesting creative flair, though you might be initially skeptical about some of the combinations.  Put aside your skepticism though, because these dishes are harmonious, compelling and delicious.    

Our meal began with a pleasant amuse bouche, a small piece of a tasty flatbread with a creamy cheese and I believe a type of pepper. We also received some fresh slices of bread with a sweet butter, and we were offered more bread throughout the meal.

My appetizer was the Berkshire Pork Belly Ravioli ($12), with braising greens, pistachios, crispy shallots and quince. What a sublime dish, one which thoroughly impressed me in every way.  I received three, plump homemade ravioli in a delicious light cream sauce with crunchy shallots, adding a nice texture, and tiny squares of quince, providing a little sweetness to the dish. Some might not have considered quince would work here, but it was a great complement to the pork.  The ravioli had plenty of tender and tasty pork within them, and all of the ingredients worked so well together.  I even sopped up the remaining sauce with some of my bread.  What a great way to start my meal and I highly recommend this dish.

For entrees, we shared two dishes, the Hudson Valley Duck Breast ($27) and Pork Three Ways ($26).  The duck came with sweet potato puree, cipollini onion, swiss chard, black trumpet mushroom, and mustard-spiced honey. The tender, sliced duck breast was cooked perfectly, and was one of the best duck dishes I have enjoyed in some time.  The mushrooms were crunchy and delicious and my dining companion loved the swiss chard too.  The pork dish included braised shank, belly confit, and fennel sausage which were topped with herbed bread crumbs and accompanied by cannellini beans.  The shank meat was very tender, basically falling apart, and the sausage was very moist and flavorful.  Another excellent dish.  

The Dessert menu had five choices ($8-$14), four sweets and a cheese plate.  We decided on the Meyer Lemon Beignets ($9) and Cinnamon Chocolate Cake ($10).  The beignets came with Corralejo tequila ice cream, an espresso glaze and cocoa nibs.  The beignets were like small donut holes and had a strong, but not overwhelming, sweet lemon flavor.  The glaze was very mild so there were only hints of coffee while the ice cream had a definite tequila flavor, though again a balanced flavor.  The flavors of the dessert blended well, much better than you might have thought just from reading the menu.  The cake has crumbled graham crackers, tiny marshmallows, candied peppadews and peppadew ice cream.  Peppadews are sweet piquanté peppers, and may be a strange ingredient for an ice cream but they worked well.  It had the definite flavor of pepperdew but just added an interesting and tasty element to the dessert.  The cake was moist, with a rich chocolate flavor. The pastry chef deserves kudos. 

All of the dishes were presented well, and portion size was just right.  We left sated, without being overly stuffed.  Every dish was creative, prepared well and absolutely delicious.  Service was excellent, and though we had a primary server, several other servers assisted at various times.  The servers acted like a well-seasoned team, being professional, personable and accomodating.  We had the type of dining experience which pleases in all ways.   

Bergamot deserves all of the accolades it has received, and I also give it my highest recommendation.  I cannot wait to return and try more of their dishes. 

Bergamot on Urbanspoon

No comments: