All clues pointed to Area Four as the restaurant for Mystery Meet 14. Heather Brundage, an ardent supporter and attendee of Mystery Meet, was hosting the event. As a techie and MIT alumna, it was a perfect match-up between host and venue.
Roasted Squid, Chickpeas, Parsley, Preserved Lemon and Black Olives
“Fattoush”, Heirloom Tomatoes, Romaine, Cucumber, Parsley, Red Onion, Mint, Sumac Vinaigrette
Duck Liver Mousse, Toasted Hazelnuts
Smoked Bluefish, Pickled Onions
Pulled BBQ Raincrow Ranch Grassfed Shortrib Sandwich, Slaw and Pickles
Roasted Crystal Valley Farm Chicken, Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary, Arugula, Local Bean and Bread Salad
Verrill Farm Zucchini and Sweet Corn, Salsa Verde
Roasted Potatoes, Lemon and Oregano
Peach Crostada, Sweet Cream
Just as some Bostonians are adverse to crossing the river to dine in Cambridge, I avoid the western suburbs. Consequently, I’ve never dined at Lumière, Michael Leviton‘s signature restaurant located in that terra incognita. However, when he briefly set up shop in Boston in the Fort Point Channel district at Persephone/The Achilles Project, we ate there and were pleased. I didn’t get the concept though – a restaurant in a clothing store, selling clothes I couldn’t or wouldn’t wear. For years, Fort Point has been a district on the verge of becoming a neighborhood and it’s still edging, though Barbara Lynch has recently had some success there. Chef Leviton didn’t though – back to the ‘burbs. And now, he’s set up shop in the culinary cauldron of Kendall Square with Area Four.
I had dined at Area Four previously and was looking forward to again enjoying the wonderful pizza they serve. However, my hopes weren’t realized – our menu was drawn from the restaurant’s ” large plate” selections. A quick read of the evening’s menu will show that seasonal and local are watchwords here. I particularly enjoyed the Squid and Chickpea Salad – a few choice ingredients deftly combined.
Ditto for the Smoked Bluefish, wonderfully enhanced with the Pickled Onions – though there were some stray bones still in the fish.
The Fattoush Salad was bland, lacking in pita and in need of re-working.
The second course dishes were both strong. The Pulled Shortrib Sandwich had been re-imagined; instead of being served on a roll, the beef was served gratin-style with a thick layer of herbed croissant crumbs. The bread-and-butter pickles accompanying the dish were fantastic! My immediate table mates went wild for them, scouring the table for extras.
The chicken – tender, flavorful, well seasoned – invoked a brief nostalgic jag – I was transported to the Zuni Cafe in San Fran and Judy Rogers’ iconic Roast Chicken and Bread Salad.
But back to the East Coast and the showstopper of the evening – the Peach Crostada with Sweet Cream. Besides great visual appeal, the aroma arising from the warm tart was beguiling. The flavor of roasted peaches lightly sweetened and accented with a bit of lemon juice was the essence of summer. Again, we scoured the table for extra slices.
The food was simple, straightforward and well prepared. Having said all that, I still would have enjoyed one of Area Four’s wood-fired pizzas.
According to Seth Resler, founder of Mystery Meet, this was to be the last meet of 2011. Seth, who relocated to California this past spring, has gone on to other endeavors. Yet, judging from the foodies assembled at Area Four – both veteran attendees and newbies – there is still an enthusiasm for this social media driven, foodie meet up. Only time will tell if this was the final Mystery Meet.