Last week after work, I met Mr. B at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter as part of my Best of Boston Restaurant Challenge. It’s a humble looking place, about halfway between Inman Square and Harvard Square. The servers wear checkered shirts and the silverware is tossed casually into a bucket on the table. There are metal wagon wheels hanging from one of the beams and an assortment of pig paraphernalia scattered on walls and shelves. It’s a sort of rustic, calculated chaos. Farm chic, if you will.
So I settled into my wooden chair, feeling slightly overdressed in a simple black cotton dress. Then I looked at the menu and did a little double take. Octopus confit? Grilled salmon head? A $30 beef stew? What was this place exactly?
It felt like a strange juxtaposition to me, this thoughtful, diverse menu (with prices to match) paired with friendly, yet refined service, then tossed into an incredibly casual atmosphere. It’s like the owners of Craigie on Main wanted to created a low key neighborhood spot, but couldn’t quite manage it. I later described this mismatch to a few friends and the unanimous response was, “That’s hipster!”
Rather than defend the shred of hipness I swear I possess, let’s focus on the food. I ordered two small plates. First, a cheerful shrimp appetizer topped with golden raisins, pistachios, and herbs in a mild green chile sauce. For my entree, I had a half portion of the hearty farro spaghetti dotted with morsels of mushroom and pumpkin in a sauce of brown butter and chicken liver cream. It was small, but satisfying.
Both dishes were delicious but the combination was odd, and perhaps oddly fitting, as the flavors provided another discomfiting juxtaposition.
Unsurprisingly, Mr. B ordered a burger. His comments? “It was a burger.” He liked the seasoned fries, which were sprinkled with cumin and paprika. I liked the kimchee Russian dressing for dipping them in. Across the room, a table of eight dudes ordered eight burgers.
He also remarked, “Good cocktail,” and I wholeheartedly agreed. I ordered a Sky’s the Limit (Slow & Low, Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Cinnamon, Lemon) and it was delicious. It was somehow, both fresh and warming with the cinnamon lemon combination working surprisingly well together. (That’s one for three, if you’re keeping score of the odd combos.)
Would I go back? Sure, if the opportunity arose. The food was delicious and I hear their brunch is nice. (I’ve heard more than one mention of a memorable sticky bun.)
In the somewhat close quarters, I got the sense that the people sitting on either side of us were regulars, which I guess means this restaurant is a successful “neighborhood joint”. It just happens to be in a neighborhood that’s richer and cooler than me.
The Kirkland Tap & Trotter
425 Washington Street
Rating: 3 little piggies