It felt like we were driving in a foreign city, down windy roads and past ethnic kitschy restaurants to a destination that was both intriguing and exciting from my friend’s description.  We were in fact in Somerville, and obviously from what I have just said, a place I am not familiar with… at all.  Our destination was Bergamot, a restaurant I was not familiar with either.  One would think I need to get out more, but if you are my friend, or indeed read my blog, I seriously cannot go out anymore than I already do.  What I need to do is explore beyond my doorstep a little more.  Bergamot is worthy of a drive to Somerville!

I was having dinner with three of my friends and as we walked into the cool restaurant from the blistering heat of last week, we were greeted with the warmest of genuine smiles.  The restaurant feels immediately intimate and has a certain elegance without being pompous.  The tables are covered with white tablecloths and are immaculately set for diners.  The space is completely open plan with views of the kitchen and long bar.  Tables are not to close so that you don’t have to overhear someone else’s conversation but close enough so that you can check out their dishes in order to make an educated decision.  I think it’s important to check what could be on offer :).  The waitstaiff are waiting lined up in front of the kitchen for its patrons to arrive and greet every customer with a nod and smile.

Chef Keith Pooler formerly of reputable restaurants such as Scampo, Harvest and Excelsior calls his cuisine “progressive American” which incorporates the freshest of local ingredients to create spectacular looking and tasty dishes.  

Our waiter arrives at our table to let us know about the “Blackboard Specials” which combines a 3-course meal for $39.  You can also separate out the dishes if you wish to just try one of thes appetizer or entrées.  I also did ask her what Bergamot meant.  If you are also curious, it is a citrus fruit like an orange but the color of lemon and is used in many of their dishes.

Fresh rustic bread is delivered to your table without you evening noticing.  Slathered with creamy butter laced with sweet honey, the evening was starting out well. 

Drinks were ordered. Two glasses of 2010 Anjou‘Chauvigné’, Loire Valley, Domaine Richou – amazingly crisp and a good choice for our appetizers.  Two fabulously fun cocktails were also ordered of the Farmers’ Smash and the Chambéry Gimlet.

The menu is somewhat limited with just six or seven choices each for the appertizer, entrée and dessert.  Each dish seems incredibly well thought out and appealing in its selection of ingredients.

We all started with a few things to share.  First was the Beet Salad, which combines sweet beets with a creamy mascarpone cheese and bitter watercress.  Simple and tasty but could have done well with more mascarpone.

We also ordered the Potato-Ricotta Ravioli.  Crumbly pork is sprinkled on top of earthy mushrooms and layered over with fresh peas.  I was a huge fan of this appetizer and how well the flavors gently worked in harmony with each other.

On the entrée list I could have gone with literally five of the six dishes on offer.  In the end I settled on the Pork Tenderloin.  This dish was nothing more than spectacular.  Perfectly cooked and lightly salted pork resting on top of a deliciously bitter spinach and surrounded by crunchy turnips and juicy mushrooms.  There was nothing on my plate I didn’t devour with vigor.

My dining companions all decided on something different and for the first time there was no sharing and absolutely no food left on anyone’s plates.  Nancy picked the Grilled Block Island Swordfish.  Her quote… “It was fantastic.  The swordfish was very tender and tasty with a hint of lemon. The asparagus and the potatoes had a nice flavorful sauce, but the olives were the best part of my meal.  They were delicious and fried perfectly and had a lot of flavor. Yummy!”  High praise.

Elizabeth opted for the Roasted Giannone Chicken .  Her quote… “The skin was cooked to crisp perfection, juicy, and lovely.  The grits were perfect as they were not a gelatinous mass, but rather light.”

For dessert we again thought it was a good idea to share a few items.  No-one was hungry anymore but nothing is wrong with ending the evening on a sweet treat of one of the Blackboard specials of Flourless Chocolate Cake and the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta.

Three small portions of chocolate heaven served to four greedy women clambering for little sweet bites.  None of us were fans of the avocado sorbet, which didn’t lend itself well to the decadence of the chocolate.  What did pair well with the chocolate was the pistachio ice cream that accompanied the Panna Cotta dessert.  It was good we ordered two desserts.  The Panna Cotta was nice but I was far too focused on the chocolate so it faded into insignificance a little. 

There are lovely touches to being at Bergamot from never having to ask for your water to be refilled to your napkin being folded each time you leave your table, to the waitstaff who stop by without being overbearing to see how you are doing and of course an evening ending with an additional sweet treat of sugared Turkish delight (at least that is what it tasted like.) 

I was so impressed by my overall experience with Bergamot I cannot wait to go back again.  Perhaps next time I will sit at the bar and enjoy one of the fun cocktails and intriguing bar bites.  And… Somerville is really not that far away.

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