Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bond(ir). James Bond(ir).

On a snowy, frigid Saturday night in mid-January when most people default to the classic pizza-and a-movie while snuggled up with their dog or significant other, I chose the path less traveled and decided to knock off one of the 539 restaurants on my "Boston Foodie Adventures" to-do list (an actual bookmark folder on my computer). After a quick T ride to Central Square and a few blocks later, I arrived at my destination: Bondir.
On an unassuming street in Cambridge, Bondir offers "sustainable modern American cuisine." Such cuisine seems to be more ubiquitous than foie gras and white truffles in restaurants across the country. Nevertheless, when I see farm-to-table in a restaurant's description, I'm sold.
As I walked into the restaurant, consisting of exactly ten tables and in a space no bigger than my apartment bedroom, I realized that I had not sacrificed much on this wintery night- I was immediately greeted by a roaring fire and a smiling hostess. Entranced by the homey, cozy feel that the space offered, I felt like I was eating dinner in a dining room rather than a restaurant. While I am all for the grandiose restaurants with choreographed service and nine different dinner forks, on this chilly night I was craving a warm, laid-back, yet delicious meal, with unfussy service- and Bondir did not disappoint.

So. The food. Well, as I said I am a sucker for all things local, farm-to-table, seasonal, organic, etc. The menu at Bondir definitely hits the nail on all four of these heads.

To start: A selection of breads: 9-grain, cranberry, and sepia-sea salt- all made in-house. They were all rustic and made with whole grains. The sepia-sea salt was particularly remarkable both because of its ingredients and because it was my favorite of the three. For the who don't know, sepia= squid ink. While I have had squid ink pasta in Italy a handful of times, I had never consumed sepia in bread-form. But I liked it. I thought the combination of squid ink, a naturally briny and very deep flavor, with sea salt was rather clever. The bread was served with fresh goat's milk butter. I've only had it once before, and while the flavor is not that distinguishable from that of cow's milk, I am not one to turn down fat (other than those of the partially-hydrogenated family). And to quote the eloquent Paula Deen, "Butter makes it better!"
Once I quelled my excitement for squid ink bread, I mustered up enough composure to give the menu a gander.

Bondir's menu changes on a daily basis, according to what ingredients are local and in season. There were no tomatoes or asparagus or salmon on this menu- just the way I like it. I have the utmost respect for chefs who respect their ingredients. A tomato is meant to be eaten in August when it is gushing blood-red juices and just begging to be made into a caprese salad or a tomato sauce. It is not, however, meant to be a pale pink garnish on a house salad in the middle of January, a mere shadow of its summertime self.
Aside from its meticulously selected ingredients, the highlight of Bondir's charming menu is the opportunity to choose between half-portions or full-portions of its entrees. While this may seem undesirable, with all of the enticing choices on the menu, the half-portions concept is more than welcome. They give you the option to try more menu items, but not to pay more. And if you are anything like me, this is a god-send for those of you who suffer from a condition known as "Eater's Remorse." No longer will you order one thing, only to spend the rest of the meal eye-balling your date's better selection, or day-dreaming about that other menu item that you just should have ordered.

Anywho, our waiter came, we ordered, and we proceeded to wait.

After much anticipation, the food arrived. *Cue the angelic gospel music*

Roasted Golden Hubbard Squash Soup: Ras el Hanout Marshmallow, Crisp Shallot, Bee Pollen, Caviar Lime.

Keener Corn Grits: Vegetable Mignardises, Roasted Butternut Squash, Mustard Oil.
Hand-Made Burrata: Shaved Vegetable Salad, Mountain Honey-Walnut Vinaigrette, Sour Flat Bread.
Tyrolean Ragu: Wild Boar, Venison, Bitter Chocolate, Red Wine over Cavatelli.
Scituate Cod: Kohlrabi, Capers, Brown-Butter Hazelnut, Turmeric, and Celery Fondue.
Assortment of Creams and Ices: Blood Orange Yogurt, Cranberry Sorbet, Chocolate Sorbet
Tangerine Dream: Genoise, Vermouth-Infused Tangerine, Thyme-Buttermilk Ice Cream, Meringue Brulee.

All of the food was presented beautifully and tasted delicious. If I had to choose, I would say the squash soup was my favorite. The silky-smooth yet sinfully thick broth provided a delicate yet savory backdrop to the myriad of unique flavors. The Ras el Hanout marshmallow was amazing and I loved the fact that there was marshmallow in my soup! I had never tried bee pollen before but it paired perfectly with the earthy hubbard squash. The caviar lime offered the perfect dose of acidity to cut through yet brighten all of the deep flavors. I shed a tear when it was all gone.

So, if you're looking for a new, modern restaurant with delicious, local food yet that is still affordable, I would highly recommend you take a trip to Bondir. With a menu this unique and such a welcoming environment, it won't be long until this restaurant will be making headlines.

-Julia Sementelli