Audubon Circle

>>  Monday, September 26, 2011

Audubon Circle
Have you ever wondered about the origins of how neighborhoods got their names?

Like, why are Harvard, Central, Inman, and Kendall "squares" while Cleveland and Audubon are "circles"? I really don't think any of the Cambridge intersections are actually squares, are they?

According to the Boston Landmarks Commission, Audubon Circle is actually a circle, defined as "a major crossroads distinguished by a central circle, 250 feet in diameter, at the intersection of Park Drive and Beacon Street.”

The circle was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and represented an extension of the fashionable Back Bay district. Most of the buildings, which are residential, were built between 1888 and 1915.

In the middle of it all sits Audubon Circle, a trendy restaurant/bar owned by the same folks that run Miracle of Science, Tory Row, and Cambridge 1. I was so surprised I had never heard of it, especially considering I know all of their other restaurants.

I had a chance to try out the menu at Audubon Circle last week with a group of bloggers. We sampled new fall items as well as some classics.

Audubon Circle Bloggers Dinner
As would be expected at any blogger dinner, the moment the food came out a frantic flurry of camera action followed!
Bread with White Bean Dip
White Bean Purée, Grilled Bread 
I'm always a sucker for grilled bread. It comes at the time of the meal when you are starving, which may explain why it always tastes so good. This bread came with a nice, creamy (but healthy!) white bean puree.
Steak with Corn relish
Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak, Chimichurri, Mango Slaw 
The steak with the slaw was OK, though I'm used to eating beef that is a little less chewy. Skirt steak is notoriously tough to cook, and can often be inherently chewy. Burrata Tomato Salad
Tomato Burrata Salad
I'm a huge fan of burrata, the cream-filled mozzarella that just melts in your mouth. This salad was solidly made with fresh ingredients.
Cheese Plate
Cheese Plate
The cheese plate was solid, filled with crowd-pleaser type cheese that don't offend but are also not particularly unique. I liked the addition of the hazelnuts and the jam, which, when combined with the various cheese, added a pizzazz to each bite.
Veggie Potstickers
Basket Steamed Veggie Dumplings 9
I didn't have a chance to try these, so I can't comment. The presentation is cute, though I have no idea how closely they mimic a real Chinese dumpling.
Beef Ragu
Pappardelle Bolognese, Pecorino Romano, Garlic Toast 15 
The pasta was decent, with a Bolognese sauce that was hearty and meaty.  Again, it's no North End, but overall the pasta was pretty enjoyable.
Cubano
Pressed Rosemary Ham, Red Pepper, Muenster, Potato Salad 10 
The potato salad was quite good, made with whole grain mustard (which I love). The pressed sandwich reminded me of a cubano and had a nice balanced flavor.
Pork Schnitzel
Pork Schnitzel, Arugula, Pickled Onion 15
This pork schnitzel was probably one of my favorite dishes of the night. The deep fried, breaded thin pork slices were juicy and flavorful. They contrasted the crisp, peppery arugula and the pickled onions perfectly.
Chevre cheesecake
Chevre Cheesecake, Oreo Crumb 8
Dessert was a goat cheese chèvre cheesecake on an oreo base. The chèvre was quite mild so if you're not a goat cheese lover (like me!), you can probably still handle it. I found it to be quite sweet and I didn't love it, but it's an interesting concept that probably works for goat cheese lovers.
A Small Boston Kitchen
Here are some of the bloggers with whom I chatted most of the night: Liz from Food to Run For and Katie from The Small Boston Kitchen.
Carrots N Cake and Tiny Urban Kitchen
Here's Tina from Carrots 'N Cake!

General Thoughts
Overall, Audubon Circle reminds me a lot of Tory Row. It's a cozy, trendy bar that serves a nice selection of cocktails and food inspired by seasonal ingredients.  I wouldn't call it a destination restaurant (there are many similar type restaurants in Cambridge I would choose over this one), but it's not a bad place to go if you're in the area. The sandwiches are pretty good; the burrata salad is always a winner; and I really enjoyed the pork schnitzel. I'm sure if I had tried the entire menu, I would have found many more dishes that are equally as good.

Disclaimer
This meal was paid for by Audubon Circle

Audubon Circle
 838 Beacon St
Boston, MA 02215
Audubon Circle Restaurant Bar on Urbanspoon

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