Monday, May 31, 2010

temple bar the doors

I found myself starting the evening off at Temple Bar on Friday and again on Saturday. I used to love it here when I lived down the street; for the past year or so, under the leadership of Michael Scelfo, the quality and creativity have increased to the point that I'm legitimately disappointed I can't actually get here again before I leave.

The first drink I tried, A Little Taste of Cambridge Grey Goose Pears, Canton Ginger, Fresh Lemon ($10), was perfect at the end of a hot, humid day -- it had enough of the ginger kick to offset the sweetness of the drink overall. It went wonderfully with the Sesame Tuna Tartare, Togarashi Aioli, Avocado, Wakame Seaweed Salad, & House Kettle Chips ($13), nothing innovative but rather a well-executed rendition of the classic, with cubes of ruby-red tuna and silky avocado piled on the seaweed, and the chips adding a nice starchy crunch. Even better were the Espresso & Fig-Glazed "St. Louis" Ribs, Smoky Espresso Syrup, Creamy Slaw ($9), which came with five meaty ribs, the meat all but falling off the bones, and the glaze nicely balanced between bitter and sweet. The bartender recommended this dish and I was glad he did; he also made me what is thus far the best Sazerac ($8) I've ever had to accompany the dish.

We stuck to the bar and appetizer menu both nights, and the dish of the night the second night had to be the Red Wine Braised Colorado Lamb Shoulder, Crispy Fried Olives, Crostini ($9) from the appetizers. This was fantastically flavorful and, in fact, a large portion over a smoky, chunky tomato sauce, with the fried black and green olives giving a salty punch and crunch to play off the tender meat. The Blue Hill Bay Mussels, House Made Merquez Sausage, Herbed Tomato Broth, Grilled Bread ($10) showed up as a huge bowl of plump, not-too-large mussels, but the merguez was the star, seasoned forcefully but not with an overly heavy hand, and not so spicy or smoky that it overwhelmed the mussels.

I used to come to this place for a casual night out just down the street; my standbys were the calamari, the burger, the Caesar salad, and the fondue. Happily, all of these things are still on the menu, but tweaked. Having sampled the new items the chef has brought to the restaurant, I bet these are even better than they were before, and I wish I still lived close enough that I could drop in on a lazy Tuesday night when I don't feel like cooking.

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