Boston Eats: Bergamot @ Somerville

We just got back from a seven course tasting dinner at Bergamot! It was a present from J’s parents for our first wedding anniversary! As most people know, we usually eat out at cheap (<$10pp) or inexpensive (up to $20pp) places unless we have a Groupon, there is a sale, or someone else is buying. So, this was definitely a treat and a first for both of us–SEVEN courses? Wow, that’s fancy. [Also, waiters/waitresses that scrape your bread crumbs off the table with a metal stick? Gee!]

Bergamot has several menus. The basic one is a three-course menu for $44pp, and the seven-course menu is $75pp. For the seven-course menu, there is a wine pairing for an additional $50, which we didn’t do because we don’t drink. There is also an a la carte lounge menu and an a la carte bar menu. We had to book our seven-course tasting dinner about a month in advance. I don’t know how many of these they do each night, but looking around us, we seemed to be the only ones on this ‘track’.

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This was not part of the tasting, but their bread came with tahini and honey butter. Yummy! I was a little slow to the butter, and the butter was done before my bread was. I felt shy asking for more butter, so I just ate the slice of sourdough the way it was–tasted fresh and had a good crust!

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This was a complimentary amuse bouche served to us. It was a peach ceviche with prosciutto, onions and I-can’t-remember-the-type pepper. It was sweet with some bits, tangy on others, spicy on the next and pungent every other. It was really interesting and I liked the contrasting flavors that came out with each individual bite, though admittedly, I guess it should only have been one bite.

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First course: Trio of beets served with goat cheese spread, raspberry jus, crushed pistachios, some microgreens and nut crackers. This was amazing! I loved the pairing of goat cheese and beets (yes, I know, it is not unusual), and what added to it was the different types of crunches with the pistachio and nut cracker. The nut cracker was also salty, which added another dimension to the dish. Should you think it needed more sweet and tanginess, there was always the raspberry jus. I loved this course and it was a fantastic way to start the meal–good transition between the amuse bouche and the next (more savory) course too!

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Second course: Bean salad of three different beans (purple, waxed and green) with more prosciutto and some tomatoes in a mustard dressing. Here, we’re moving more into the savory realm. The beans were perfectly cooked, and sliced so thin that it gave the perfect crunch. I liked the sweet and slightly tart contrast of the tomato bits, as well as the slight spicy aftertaste of the mustard. Yum! [Also, it had exactly one slice of kohlrabi in it. Exactly one slice. I couldn’t figure out how it played and existed in this dish, but it did not bother me.]

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Third course: This was one of my favorite courses. We have smoked mussels (yes, J ate them!), house-made garlic sausage, confit fingerling potatoes, croutons and (I think) squash flowers on a cilantro and basil pesto (they called it a pesto, not me.) It was delightful! It tread a very thin line between complex light flavors and the familiar heavy homey ones. I don’t really understand how the squash flowers fit in with respect to taste, but they did make it more appealing. The little crouton bits were little surprises in texture. So good! I loved it!

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Fourth course: After a little touch of ‘heavy’ in the last course, we were back to veggie land with this Mediterranean reinterpretation of ratatouille. Here, there are summer squashes and fresh tomatoes over an eggplant-sour cream sauce on the bottom, topped with deep fried cilantro. I really liked how the eggplant puree supported the rest of the dish, while keeping everything zesty and light. It was a good contrast with the last course, yet the different cilantro incarnations helped tie it all together.

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Fifth course: Grilled mahi mahi over a spicy sweet potato sauce. It was topped with fried sunflower seeds and avocado bits. I felt that this was the weakest course because I did not understand it’s placement in the entire meal. I did appreciate that for the first time, we have a dish that was relatively simple (compared to others). The fish was perfectly cooked (and we know how hard it is to get mahi mahi cooked right without the outside being so dry!) and the accompanying sauce highlighted the spicy tastebuds more than others (which was much appreciated). Somehow, I just did not understand how we got to this dish from the last dish. Maybe I’m just in beyond what I can grasp?

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Sixth course: Roast beef with house-made rice and scallion pancake with roasted shiitake mushrooms, pickles and eggplant, with Hong Kong BBQ sauce (what!?). This course also left me rather confused, as did the last one. I did not understand how we went from the last course to this course at all. The beef was a tender slice of roast beef (nope, we were not told which part of the cow this came from) and I liked how the raw sliced scallions tied up the meat to the scallion pancake. Call me a snob, but I’ve had better scallion pancakes before. These were rather tough, and not so crisp. The shiitake mushrooms were great, as were the pickles. The biggest disappointment in this dish was the little eggplant behind the meat–it was not thoroughly cooked and were crunchy toward the lower bout. The ‘Hong Kong BBQ sauce’ tasted like thickened and sweetened soy sauce. I don’t know how this worked in the grand plan of the meal, but it didn’t bother me as much because I felt that this could have been a main course. It held its weight and totally could have been a main course had the portions been expanded.

So, after this course, and knowing that there was only one course left, I was… confused. I could not fathom what could possibly come up next. I mean, the floodgates were opened (or some may say, closed.)We were going everywhere, yet nowhere at the same time (hey! just like some music I know, and some music I write!)

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Therefore, when a pre-dessert (or maybe they said free dessert?) came, I was extremely relieved. Thank god we didn’t just dive straight into dessert. This was a raspberry sorbetto. It was really airy, tart and did a great job cleansing the palate. It had some cookie crumbs on the bottom for texture too.

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Seventh and last course! This was a smoked vanilla ice cream on a graham cracker crumb bed with peach and strawberry compote. The star of this plate was definitely the smoked (I couldn’t tell what with) vanilla ice cream. It’s not the first time I’ve had smoked or smoke-flavored ice cream, but this was was so subtle, and the smokiness felt sweet. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it was good! The compotes made the graham crackers a little soggy, but I didn’t mind too much. All in all, a good end to the meal.

Bergamot

Address: 118 Beacon St
Somerville, MA 02143
Telephone: (617) 576-7700
Hours: S-Th | 5.30pm to 10pm
Fr, Sa | 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Price Range: $$$ ($20 to $30 per person for the regular menus)
Overall: Yum!

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