Located on a remote stretch of Broadway Avenue in Cambridge is a culinary delight that will entice from the minute you lay eyes on it right up until your next visit, which will surely be not too long thereafter.
Chef Jason Bond's Bondir just celebrated its first year anniversary and they certainly have cause to celebrate. This 28-seat restaurant was dubbed 2011's best new restaurant by Boston Magazine — not to mention the host of other rave reviews that had placed this little hole in the wall at the top of my to-visit list.
On Monday, I finally managed to score a table Bondir and all the waiting was well worth it. The restaurant is a top spot and chef Bond delivers solid, tasty dishes without any presumption.
At Bondir, the menu changes daily, allowing the chef to showcase any of the ingredients he picked up during the day or earlier that week. Our meal kicked off with one slice of each of their homebaked breads. My favorite was "the sea," which was baked with swirls of seaweed, squid ink, and speckles of dried shrimp — it was a challenge not to fill up on the bread before the real eating began.
I started with the roasted butternut squash soup, a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. The combination of the spiced homemade marshmallow, crisp shallots (for a nice crunch), and bee pollen added an intriguing complexity of flavors.
My friend had the handmade burrata served alongside a shaved vegetable salad and spiced beets. This dish was fresh and colorful, although it fell well short of the killer soup.
We could not resist indulging in the fresh white Alba truffle shaved over handmade buckwheat cavatelli and raclette. Although the dish arrived in fanfare, with the truffles shaved right in front of your nose (the smell was rich and pungent), the taste of the truffles was a little lost amidst the strong taste of raclette. None of it was spared though.
Conveniently, with all of the dishes, you can opt for a half portion. This way, you can try many things for half the price... and half the stomach space.
Next was the Scituate scallop dish. This was one of my favorites; it was beautifully arranged with a pungent scent of dill wafting up as it was placed in front of us. The scallops were nice and meaty — the bright-red pickled cranberries, baby leeks, and a Roxbury russet apple added color and texture. A complicated dish like this is often hard to pull off, but apart from the foam (which was more for visual effect), everything held up nicely.
Chef Bond is known for his skill with pig, thus the menu had two pork dishes. To my delight, one was a roasted pork belly served with beautifully charred brocoli and heirloom keener grits. I especially liked the contrast between the extra-crispy top and the soft, smooth pork belly. It was delicious.
Last on the savory side was the roasted Tamworth pork loin. The meat was tender and sweet — the accompaniments were interesting, with honey-braised watermelon radish and red cabbage. This dish is perfect for a cold winter evening. Unfortunately, Monday was a beautiful 60 degrees... Boston temperatures are lagging behind the now wintery culinary scene.
To finish, we tried the dark chocolate sorbet, which was rich and speckled with strong cocao nibs, and their Roxbury russet apple trifle. I love trifles, and apart from the cup inside a cup which kept sliding around, the layers in this trifle were delightful — a perfect crossover from fall to winter with brown butter genoise, vermouth, and vanilla. A scoop of thyme-buttermilk ice cream and a meringue brûlée topped it off.
By the time the courses ceased to arrive, I was very disappointed — not because I did not enjoy them, but rather because all the eating was over. Bondir was an experience that quite lived up to my expectations. The atmosphere is cozy and warm, the service is likewise — nothing feels pretentious, and chef Bond himself is the epitomy of a humble genius.