“There are so many things that look really good,” said the man catty-cornered from me. His words perfectly matched my thought, one that was equally overwhelmed as I attempted to make a hungry decision. You can’t help not be while perusing the lunch menu at ArtBar, a fine little nook part of the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass.
An intimate ambience combined with the restaurant’s alluring menu make this place a worthy trip. The American cuisine is a collection of seasonal dishes featuring lots of ingredients native to New England. On this particular cold, cloudy day, I only wished there would have been warm sunshine welcoming me to the restaurant’s patio, where one can sit and dine by the adjacent Charles River. But, the weather was far from inviting a outside seat. So, naturally, I did what anyone would have: ordered piping hot soup. Brought forth was a small bowl of Butternut Squash bisque, each spoonful invading my palate with a silky smooth perfectly blended flavor. It was absolutely delicious, and a solid start to part one.
On to part two, a grilled chicken sandwich. Alright, I gotta be straight. Grilled chicken seems boring, like watching baseball or staring at a white wall at the doctor’s office. This particular grilled chicken sandwich, however, was out of the ordinary. There must have been a secret something in the dish well beyond it’s vibrant and delicious appearance. A top tangled watercress rested a perfectly sliced vine-ripe tomato that cushioned what looked like the juiciest, most tender well-seasoned piece of poultry.
And it got even better. Plastered between two slices of toasted seven-grain bread was a creamy complement: Vermont goat cheese. It was the kind of sandwich you’d daydream about. The ingredients were perfectly balanced and hearty. Served with an oversized pickle and a house salad with drinkable balsamic dressing, I’d absolutely return to ArtBar just for this lunch delight.
Of course, I couldn’t leave without sipping a little something. Before an angelic-looking coffee cup was brought forth, I have to say, I was honestly really pumped. After all, what I’d consumed up to that point tasted pretty delectable. The coffee, I thought, must be out of this world.
Yes, well, there’s nothing like disappointment to smack you in the face. My thought was quickly deflated the moment a dark brew was place in front of me. That’s when I discovered a big disconnect between the coffee and ArtBar’s regional flavors. I didn’t like the brew. Burnt. Acidic. Too strong. I don’t know how else to describe. Who would have thought that such a cool, delicious restaurant would go the commercial coffee route, as opposed to serving something local, like Barismo. My coffee cup pointed to the obvious: an exit sign. Literally, it was reflected on top. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
To Ms. B.V. of Eat.Love.Food, ArtBar’s food is worth eating. The coffee, however, you’re better off pretending the menu doesn’t offer it.