Monday, June 6, 2011

Nubar Cambridge: Big Eats with One of Kind Treats!

By: Jessica Cickay

There really isn’t much you can do when multiple courses of delicious food are placed in front of you. You kind of just have to eat them – and eat them all, so much so that your server gets teary-eyed and tells you that she wants to hug you. Had the food, drinks, service and value at Nubar – the recently opened restaurant and lounge in the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Harvard Square – not been so on point, this interaction could have gotten a little awkward. But instead, the love and excitement that was easily evident in Nubar’s fare transferred over to my well-fed body, and all I could say was “Hug away!”

Nubar’s location is both a shame and a valiant effort. The Sheraton Commander Hotel from the outside looks like what 1970s horror movies are made of, but upon entering the newly renovated Nubar, it’s clear that you’ve entered a modern, upscale era. Sleek, yet comfortable; fancy, but in no way pretentious; and rich, yet vibrant can describe both the ambiance and food at Nubar. Additionally, Nubar nailed it in terms of pricing and portion size, with each dish a healthy helping that leaves your wallet flush and your stomach full. Our server for the evening, Elizabeth, was an actress, a singer and an aspiring chef herself, but most of all, she was inherently excited to describe, suggest, pair and present what Executive Chef Bill Flumerfelt expertly crafted in his kitchen.
Polenta + Egg + Spinach
You only have one chance to make a first impression, and Nubar’s Taleggio Polenta with Wilted Baby Spinach and a Crispy Poached Egg certainly made an impact. Aromatic and pungent Taleggio cheese was draped atop a soft square of corn meal and green-as-grass spinach, but the show didn’t start until we cut into the crispy egg, whose golden, viscous center oozing down the tower of Taleggio turned the simply delicious dish into simply a magic show. A sip of The Harvard Garden (Hendricks gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh cucumber and tonic) and Nubar’s cranberry and basil-based signature cocktail secured that we’d be in need for a second meeting with Nubar.
Meze Plate
We went the “bang for our buck” route next and ordered Nubar’s Meze Plate, where strips of chargrilled flatbread patiently awaited multiple wardrobe changes, with herbed ricotta, eggplant salsa, lentil and bulgur dip, olive salad and pickled peppers as the options. My favorites? The herbed ricotta was whipped to smooth perfection, while the smoky eggplant salsa was so luxurious it could have been called caviar. The bold and almost coffee-like flavors of the lentil and bulgur dip also made a strong showing.
Chicken with Farro and Veggies
Elizabeth’s excitement upon serving us our entrees was electric, confirming that Nubar was just as eager to prepare our food as we were to eat it. A moist, succulent, roasted chicken is an element of my “Last Meal” menu, and if I ever find myself on the way to the electric chair, Chef Flumerfelt may just get a call to cook his Pan Roasted Bell and Evans Statler Chicken Breast with Farro, Spring Vegetables and Herbs. It was news to me that a chicken breast could be so juicy and tender, and an eclectic medley of earthy turnips, sweet carrots, crisp asparagus, sugary snap peas and swirling, curling, fresh fiddle heads showcased spring’s best offerings. Nutty toasted farro in a light herbed jus completed what might have been the best roasted chicken of my life.
Grilled Steak Frites
A massive plate of Grilled Steak Frites with Cress Salad and Ramp Butter was another hit. The ramp butter was essentially unnecessary as each piece of meat was “like butter” itself. The skinny fries were noticeably coated with sea salt and their skins were left intact for texture. I’ll also note that I’m notorious for pouring on tableside seasonings, but at Nubar there wasn’t a single shake of the salt shaker or grind of the pepper mill all night. It was that spot on.
Mixed Berry Trifle
With our metabolisms still churning, we treated ourselves to Nubar’s sweeter side and ordered a Flourless Chocolate Espresso Torta and a Mixed Berry Trifle with Whipped Cream. Desserts don’t get turned down in this girl’s book, so although both were gone faster than you can say “You’re still hungry?” neither were incredibly memorable. The trifle was a tad too saturated in its sweet berry syrup, while the torta was almost too straightforward for its own good.
Flourless Choco Cake
I initially couldn’t tell if Elizabeth was impressed or scared with our eating efforts that night at Nubar, as literally not a crumb was left untouched. Once she offered me a hug though, I knew that in Nubar we had found another foodie friend.

16 Garden St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 547-4800
Nubar on Urbanspoon

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