FX Excursions

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The Abbey, Cambridge, Massachusetts

by Samantha DiMauro

Nov 7, 2014

Charles River, Cambridge, Massachusetts © Mbastos | Dreamstime

Restaurant

The Abbey was already a favorite local Boston eatery in Brookline, Mass., before it graced the dining scene in Cambridge with it’s second outpost. Located off Porter Square, and a stone’s throw from the Harvard University campus, The Abbey’s second installation is an intimate affair, featuring homey, feel-good American eats with refined and upscale flair.

 

The first time I visited The Abbey was shortly after its grand opening in summer 2014, and I took a seat at the bar. The bartender and waitstaff were giddy with the excitement of their premiere, and happy to recommend a drink to start.

 

Their cocktail list is highly inventive and packed with curious flavor combinations, and in honor of the summer heat, I was given the Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita. The fruity drink is made with your choice of tequila, jalapeno simple syrup, fresh lime, pineapple and a chili-sugar rim.

 

I was initially intrigued by the varied selection of the menu. Small plates double as bar bites, and include such delightful dishes as cheeseburger and candied bacon egg rolls. To pair to my own liking, I started with a small plate of fried green tomatoes. While the dish was served a little too hot for comfort, the flavors were solid and set the bar high for the food quality of the restaurant.

 

For my entree, I was feeling adventurous, and ordered the house-made blood sausage with chicken liver mouse crostini. Ordering anything on The Abbey’s menu would have been adventurous, as they make an effort to pair interesting ingredients and flavors. The menu included dishes like bison Bolognese, and pearled barley risotto with chanterelles and braised kale. While waiting for my meal, I asked the bartender again for a suggestion of a wine to pair, and he led me in the direction of their Pinot Noir.

 

The house-made blood sausage is to this day one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. It’s hearty and flavorful, with fresh sprigs of leafy parsley to accompany every bite. The chicken liver mousse was light, yet spread thickly over two slices of crispy toasted crostini. I dream about the dish from time to time.

 

After my first phenomenal experience, I was obviously craving a second visit. I’d pass the restaurant once in a while and see it brimming with locals at all hours, especially for brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

 

For my next visit, I went in early fall to try the seasonal additions to the menu. Accompanied by a fellow foodie, I arrived shortly after 9:00 p.m. and we were promptly seated at a small booth table. The Abbey is accommodating, is open late night until 1:00 a.m. and serves dinner and appetizers until 12:30 a.m.

 

I ordered a small plate of crispy pancetta deviled eggs to start, while my friend was torn between the lamb lollipops (with goat cheese brulee, mint oil and aged balsamic) or a more classic option of the caesar salad. In the end, he asked for the charred caesar salad, and to our surprise, it was presented as an entire head of romaine lettuce, drizzled with a bright caesar dressing, crunchy croutons and white anchovies. Cutting into the head of lettuce and eating it in chunks, while odd at first, proved a fun, out of the ordinary take on a classic app.

 

Craving a savory, filling meal after my light appetizer, I opted for the eight-ounce burger, cooked medium rare, and topped with spicy onions, fresh lettuce and tomato and a choice of swiss, bleu or cheddar cheese. I chose bleu cheese, and was surprised with a hefty hunk of crumbly bleu.

 

“Would you like some burger with your bleu cheese?” our waiter joked, and I was pleased with the presentation. The burger was cooked to my preference, and the hand-cut side of French fries was crispy and addictive.

 

The Abbey proved to be a delightful, neighborhood restaurant with a welcoming environment, and always something new to be tried on the menu. I plan to return at least once per season to try what fresh dishes they have to offer.

 

#TrazeeTravel

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