Food crawls (the art of sampling a variety of items at a couple of places within a given period of time) have always been something that we really enjoy doing. I can’t really say when this little tradition of ours started but I can only assume it had to be pretty early on in our relationship. Last night we found ourselves with a rare night off and the desire to try out some of Boston’s, well Cambridge’s actually, most buzzed about spots: Catalyst and Area Four.
Naturally one of our food crawls wouldn’t be complete without a burger destination so Catalyst was our first stop. Burger aside (we’ll leave the formal review up to Burger Boy), we had higher hopes for this newcomer to Technology Square. Aside from the lounge’s blazing fireplace, the atmosphere was stuffy and uncomfortable and right from the start the staff was inattentive and visibly disappointed that we politely declined every attempt made for an up-sale. Isn’t the whole point of an evening out to have fun? Isn’t it the restaurant’s job to make you feel welcome in their establishment? I’d maybe understand some of the treatment had it been a packed bar and we were hogging two prime seats and only ordering a burger and two waters, but this wasn’t the case. The bar was relatively empty. Frustrated, we finished our burgers and moved on to Area Four.
From the start, Area Four’s atmosphere had a good vibe; two wood-fire ovens are the focal point, as is floor-to-ceiling chalk board menus and modern industrial furnishings. The menu is playful with a variety of cold and hot snacks priced between $4-$12, a select number of entrees and, the main attractions – pizza and homemade soft-serve ice cream. Being a sucker for Muhammara, we ordered a portion of this classic Middle Eastern dip ($5) which was full of the traditional flavors of walnut, pepper and pomegranate molasses and served up in a cute little cast iron skillet with three house-made pita chips. No doubt this dip was good but I found it hard for us to really swoon over it because it couldn’t compare to the Muhammara that we buy at the Armenian markets in Watertown. We also ordered the Bacon and Sea Salt Pretzel Bites ($8), that were a little more dense than I would have liked and the advertised bacon flavor was absent, but the pretzel still had a nice salty exterior and was served alongside a creamy Pimento cheese dip. Ringing in at almost a $1 a bite, we wished we had saved our money.
We then moved on from our snacks to a small Fennel Sausage and Pickled Banana Pepper Pizza ($13) which had a nice combination of flavors from the sweet and spicy peppers and the sausage. My only disappointment lied in the crust, which was perfectly crispy, light and doughy but so heavily dusted with raw flour it left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. While the atmosphere at Area Four was great, the staff friendly, attentive and knowledgeable, I thought the prices were a little steep for the portions we got.
With so many great restaurants being buzzed about in this area, we’re looking forward to our next food crawl and returning to this new restaurant hot spot of Cambridge to see what else is in store for us. Until then, we’re eating vegetables to make up for all this eating!