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A few weeks ago, the husband requested my presence at a date in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the city in which our romance blossomed seven years ago. We both lived in the North Cambridge/Porter Square vicinity, a neighborhood fairly barren of fine dining establishments at the time, a little sweet pocket of Cambridge that just didn’t have much going on.
Boy, have times changed, and all over Cambridge. Like our old neighborhood, the strip of Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard and Central Squares was equally bland, only speckled with late night dive bars and modern furniture stores. Until 2007, that is, when a great young chef opened a little spot called Garden at the Cellar, a sweet little spot I was beckoned to for drinks and snacks.
Snacks turned into dinner. In fact, the spot was so great, we had friends meet us there for late night drinks and even more snacks. Everything was cooked and assembled with such care and attention to detail, like the lovely yellow beet salad pictured above. The Chef, Will Gilson, had given the scoop on his sourcing, cooking and dining philosophies to my company a few week’s earlier. Will is big into being kind to the environment, and practices what he preaches. As my husband is big into green these days, he promptly felt the urge to patronize the Garden, and I was delighted we did.
A few highlights from our meal:
- The husband had a delicious Hendrick’s and Tonic, made even more special by this smooth lemon cucumber slice
- Fried Green Tomatoes, lovingly and firmly coated with a light cornmeal batter and a smudge of sauce
- Ripe yellow tomatoes with handmade burrata cheese, speck and basil
- Grilled skirt steak with rosemary truffle fries and parsnip puree, cooked beautifully
The Garden filled up quickly but the staff remained as pleasant and sweet as can be, never rushing us to bar seats at the end of our meal. (Having worked at the same restaurant as Will, and manning the host stand, I totally understood the crowd and wanted to vacate our table to permit newbies to get a shot at a great dinner.) The husband was delighted and we mutually agreed that we had found a new home in Cambridge. It wasn’t in our old neighborhood, but was fairly close, and gave us hope that new people were seeing glory in little barren spots of our old hometown.