Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Nu Kid in Town

Last week, Nubar in Harvard Square invited me and a guest to visit their restaurant for dinner. I gladly accepted their gracious invitation, and took Z along with me.

Nubar, a recent addition to the Harvard Square area, is located inside the Sheraton – but as soon as you walk in and sit down, you’d never know you were inside a hotel. The modern d├ęcor, plush seats, and large, arched windows make the atmosphere at Nubar inviting, comfortable and even slightly swanky.

On this particular Wednesday evening, the restaurant wasn’t crowded, but it definitely had its fair share of working professionals at the bar, in the lounge and eating dinner. As Z and I took in the place, our friendly waitress took our drink orders – which she helped us tremendously on making our final decisions on (throughout dinner, actually, our waitress was incredibly knowledgeable and was able to answer any questions we had regarding the menu).

My first drink was the Ruby Sidecar ($11), made with Hennessey VS, Gran Marnier, fresh lemon juice, and ruby red grapefruit juice.

Z's first drink was the Basil and Lime Gimlet ($10), made with Triple 8 Gale Force Gin, fresh basil, and fresh lime juice. 

Both drinks were refreshing and not overly sweet, and our waitress informed us that the bartender creates many of the cocktails himself - so expect to find some unique drinks on Nubar's menu. 

Our cocktails helped us wash down the complimentary bread and butter while we continued to peruse the menu.

Our first course ended up being the Asparagus, Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Salad ($11), served with watercress, toasted walnuts, pickled shallots and vin cotto. This salad is normally made with pickled ramps, but ramps are currently out of season (Nubar's menu focuses a lot on local sources/ingredients).

When a salad is made with locally-grown produce, you can taste the difference. The fresh, sweet beets with the tangy goat cheese and peppery arugula was a spectacular combination. I could have done without the large amount of watercress, but it still added a nice, varying texture to the dish.

Our second appetizer was the Taleggio Polenta ($9), which was served with wilted baby spinach and a crispy poached egg. 

This polenta dish was one of the most unique dishes I’ve had in a while. The poached egg was covered with a tempura-like, crispy exterior, and the egg itself was cooked almost perfectly. I loved the different flavors and textures in this dish.

For our entrees, Z ordered the Mediterranean Vegetable Gratin ($17), made with a porcini broth and thyme. 

I only had a bite of the gratin – at this point, I was already getting stuffed – but based off one bite, I could tell why Z was glowing. The dish was beautifully seasoned, and the porcini broth provided a sultry, savory flavor throughout the dish.

I had the Black Olive, Herbed Ricotta Topped with Dressed Arugula Flatbread ($12).

I’m not normally a huge fan of having a pile of greens on a flatbread (or pizza, for that matter), but Nubar may have changed my mind. I loved how the arugula was slightly wilted from the light amount of dressing, and the fresh black olives with the creamy ricotta was just superb. I ended up bringing half of it home to have for lunch the next day, too!

With dinner, I had a glass of Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir, 2009 ($7), while Z enjoyed a refreshing Talk of Cambridge cocktail (which was a special at the time). 

I will be craving this drink on a hot summer day. My terrible note-taking skills couldn’t tell you exactly what’s in it – but trust me when I tell you it was ultra refreshing. The only negative comment Z had was that the crushed up mint was a little too crushed up – it was hard to sip through the straw without getting a few mint leaves.

Neither of us had room for dessert (although the dessert menu included Christina's Ice Cream), so we decided to finish our drinks and head home – with full, happy stomachs. It was great to try out Nubar for a special dinner, but the prices are a little too steep for me to go there on a regular basis for dinner. However, I’d love to go back to Nubar for some after work drinks and appetizers, and sit in the lounge area. 

Overall, Z and I had a great experience at Nubar. The innovative food and drinks, use of local sources, and knowledgeable waitstaff made this dining experience an extremely positive one.

How often do you splurge on a great meal?

Disclaimer: Our meals were complimentary. Despite Nubar’s generosity, the opinions expressed in this post are 100% honest and my own.

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  1. Good review! I want to try that vegetable gratin!

  2. Where did you hear that ramps were out of season?

  3. Hi Anne, The waitress informed us, but I'm also aware that ramps' season ends in early June. Thanks!

  4. RE the comment above: I am pretty sure ramp season is early spring so I think you / the waitress is correct they are now out of season! The Taleggio Polenta looks awesome, I'd totally try that. What a fun night!

  5. What an excellent review! I would definitely get there just for their inventive cocktails. They look great for the summer!

  6. This is the second time I've seen that vegetable gratin, and I'm thinking I would love it! Sounds like I need to get over there!