Clarence Jumps for Joy: More Boston Feasts

When we weren’t eating the insects of the sea, we ate some other pretty terrific stuff during my brief sojourn in Boston. After a day of sightseeing and shopping on Newbury Street, M and I headed to Barbara Lynch’s The Butcher Shop (52 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617.423.4800, www.thebutchershopboston.com). I’d been excited to try The Butcher Shop ever since my friend J purchased her Thanksgiving turkey there last year to rave reviews. It’s a real carnivore pleasure hanging out there, as they do much of the butchery right in the center of the dining area (vegetarians and the squeamish should probably eat somewhere else, if the name of the restaurant wasn’t clue enough). The refrigerated case would be the first thing I would rob given the opportunity and disposition for theft.

We ate lunch at the bar, drinking rosé and sharing a charcuterie plate of mortadella, prosciutto di Parma, salami Biellese, spicy sopressata, game bird en croûte, pâte de campagne, and a foie gras terrine, as well as a few cheeses from their excellent selection.  Everything was lovely, though the portions are pretty miniscule. I did secretly long for the heavy, unfussy charcuterie plates at Le Baron Rouge, but as far as US charcuterie goes, The Butcher Shop is pretty great. For the Boston folks, it would also be an excellent resource if you were looking for an unusual cut of meat.

For my final evening in Cambridge, M had made reservations at the cozy local restaurant Bondir (279A Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139, 617.661.0009, www.bondircambridge.com). Named for chef Jason Bond and presumably meant to evoke something like “to leap for joy” in French, it has a bit of a different connotation for French speakers (especially the filthy-minded ones like us). Let George Brassens explain:

Egregious sexual innuendos aside (and there were certainly a lot of them), Bondir is a truly gorgeous restaurant. It’s tiny — only 28 seats — meaning that reservations are a must, though I did see a few people loitering by the handsome fireplace hoping that a table would open up as the evening progressed. Bondir’s menu changes daily and focuses on sustainable New England produce and seafood. All the plates come in two sizes and sharing is encouraged – great news if your crew is like my crew and everything gets passed around anyway. On our night in April, we drank a ‘09 Francois Raquillet, ‘Les Naugues’ Mercury première Cru, and the three of us shared the following:

Scituate scallops
 with sorrel, yellowfoot mushrooms, Georgia sweet peas,
 pickled radish pod, and sage froth

French white asparagus salad with 
wild Westport watercress, lemon-chili vinaigrette, pickled rhubarb, 
lemon verbena, and olive oil-poached Day Boat halibut

Red wheat rigatoni with 
braised beef shank, shiitake mushroom, butternut squash, 
Pu-Erh celery baton, and Parmigiano Reggiano

Rouen duck breast with 
Rhode Island white flint cornmeal cake, young onion greens, 
collard greens, and red wine black lentils

Angus beef bavette with 
red wine braised root vegetables, 
rye berries with crème fraîche, and roasting jus

Westport spring-dug sunchokes with 
olive oil-caramel, gingerbread cake, lemon mousseline,
 and fruit leather

Sour cherry trifle with 
mocha chocolate financier, almond milk gelato, and 
meringue brulée

Those final two desserts were really something special – I had never imagined that a roasted sunchoke would make for such an utterly decadent dessert.  I’ll ‘fess up now, I didn’t record the details of each dish with nearly the precision listed above (my real list was more like Scallops! White asparagus! Pasta thing! Duck! Beef! SUNCHOKE DESSERT! Sour cherry sundae!). I fleshed out the details two months later with the happy assistance of the Bondir website. If, like Clarence, your version of porn is restaurant menus, I’d highly encourage a visit, as an archive of past menus is available for your perusal. I’ve gotten some lovely ideas for my own cooking from the site since my visit. A pithy substitute for a lovely evening, but it will have to suffice until I find myself again in Cambridge.

Finally, I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t mention A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem (48 Central Street, Salem, MA 01970, 978.744.4881, www.ajkingbakery.com), both for their g-g-g-gorgeous bread and free WiFi, which allowed A to study for his exams while M and I browsed the nearby Peabody Essex Museum. We devoured one of their boules and a rhubarb tart at the beach in Rockport, yelling at the seagulls to bake their own damn bread. I brought a bag of A&J’s coconut macaroons back home to Indiana for B, thereby extending my the yumminess of my trip into the following week at home.

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