Sarma is in Somerville; a sleepy suburban area of Boston and you could quite easily walk past it and never know it is there. Once you have been however, you’ll never forget the evocative and complex tastes and smells, which whisk you straight back to a spice market in the Mediterranean.
The menu at Sarma is one of small plates, so you get to taste lots of different dishes. There are also dishes brought round during dinner (soft shell crab and fried chicken, two exemplary examples brought round during our meal and these seem to change with the season).
We ordered eight dishes to start between four, and that finished us off. Dare I say it, but Brussels Sprout Bravas with chorizo was a highlight, as was black orzo paella with squid and octopus. The Greek yogurt biscuits with jalapeno-whipped feta, smoked ham and honey was a cacophony of taste but a little unbalanced on the spice side for me. Likewise the sweet potato latke with jalapeno labne, rhubarb, lime and scallion (spring onion), which could have done with a touch more spice.
The cocktails were a great addition to the meal, with it being difficult to pair a wine to such a mix of different flavour profiles. Mr. B had an Oaxacan Divorce with Mezcal, Citrus, Tea and Vermouth and I took favour to the Illyrian King’s Cocktail, which contained grilled lemon vodka, Greek mountain tea and salers.
All in all a great variety of tastes and an explosion of flavour from this hidden gem.
Located in central Boston and hidden in a side street, Erbaluce is as understated outside as it is inside. It’s almost like walking into someone’s living room and in fact the service feels just as warm. The focus of the restaurant is Northern Italian food using local produce, high quality ingredients and a distinct lack of butter and cream. You might think this is an odd thing to mention as butter and cream is more characteristically French, however in America, Italian food is generally swimming in it.
We started our meal with some amazing homemade breadsticks, sourdough bread and white bean dip. The dip tasted so creamy and luxurious that we assumed it had butter or cream but it was just white beans and olive oil. This sounds simple but the dish was delicious and I asked for the recipe so will be trying it out in a few days.
For starters we shared some San Daniele Prosciutto, which was complimented with black cherries. My Italian husband said he preferred this to the usual melon, for me, whilst I liked the idea, the cherries where not as sweet and I would have preferred more of a sweet salt contrast.
For main, Mr. B had one of the specials as his Primi, which was Tagliatelle with Rabbit. He loved the fresh pasta and the rabbit, although would have preferred a more sauce-based ragu. I had an original carbonara, which is a no cream dish. Real carbonara is a mix of egg yolk, Parmesan, Pecorino and Pancetta. This one had a special twist of a duck yolk and boar pancetta and was absolutely lip smacking delicious.
For main we had the wild boar chop, which was expensive and not well done, i.e. the fat hadn’t been rendered properly. At $45 for that one dish, it was a disappointing end to a great and authentic meal. The lavender meringue and chocolate truffles as part of the house free desert made up for it however.
All in all, a great restaurant, especially by Boston Italian American standards.
The Liquid Art House
This is a bar/lounge, with a beautiful open space and some really interesting artwork on the wall (all for sale of course). There are two menus available for brunch, a small plates menu with eclectic dishes from around the world (including momo’s and gyoza’s) and a brunch menu with more typical dishes like French toast and eggs benedict. The best dishes by far where in the small tasters, although there was a large variation in quality from one to the other. The Chinese sausage bun and egg yolk ravioli were the most interesting and well executed but the food in general wasn’t overwhelming. The cocktails were great, personal favourite was the yuzu Bellini, and so I suspect that I will be frequenting this more for the bar than brunch.
All in all, great space and bar, if you get really hungry the go for the small bites.