Juliet: A New Love Story

By Joseph Winters ’20
“One thing is guaranteed: this will be energetic, personal cooking that’s truly one of a kind,” wrote Bon Appétit this year in the magazine’s roundup of the fifty best new restaurants in the United States. Also featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Travel + Leisure, and Food and Wine Magazine, Juliet, the eight-month-old Somerville restaurant, has made quite a loud entry into the Boston area food scene. Juliet won the Improper Bostonian’s Best Breakfast award earlier this year, and the restaurant is currently one of five nominees for Eater’s Best Restaurant 2016 award. I got to stop by for breakfast this week and see it for myself.
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Juliet is right in the heart of Union Square in Somerville, in what seems like a foodie hotspot. Nearby is the famous Union Square Donuts, which sells its donuts every Tuesday at the Harvard Science Center Plaza Farmers Market; Bronwyn, a specialty beer garden; the upscale Bergamot; and others.
Juliet’s interior is minimalist, with some modern decor and a very airy feel—you can watch the cooks preparing your food from either the main seating tables or the bar. Standing behind a glass case where there were a few pastries was the hostess, Joanna. She welcomed me to Juliet and suggested a few breakfast options. I scanned the a la carte menu that was printed and posted to the wall: toasts with different toppings, egg sandwiches, yogurt bowls. Not a huge selection, but varied. I chose a quinoa bowl and toast with cured salmon, tamarind, and yogurt, paying at the counter with a Square transaction—sort of unexpected in such an up-and-coming restaurant. The price, however, was not unexpected: $16 for a relatively small portion of quinoa and a piece of toast (it did have cured salmon on it, though).
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As I learned later, though, there was much more to this pricing model than was immediately apparent. Although I didn’t get to speak with co-owner Katrina Jazayeri, her vision for Juliet includes not only great food but great social justice. In fact, she studied health care inequalities and got a degree in social justice from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2011. Her background has made her look beyond food at some of the overlooked parts of the restaurant industry. The reason my transaction was a little more expensive than usual, and the reason I did it at the front counter through Square, was that tipping isn’t allowed at Juliet. Gratuity is automatically included in all the set prices, and a calculated amount of “tips” is distributed equally amongst both the hosts and the kitchen staff. This, to me, was an innovative business model, and it probably played a large part in Jazayeri winning the 2016 Eater Young Guns—a national award “recognizing individuals setting themselves apart early in their careers.”
I sat with my bowl of breakfast quinoa at a counter facing the street. The quinoa, dotted with chunks of squash and carrot, was perfectly moist. Some crisped rice-like addition gave it texture, and a soft-boiled egg oozed into the grains. The toast was delicious, as well—homemade bread sliced thick and slathered with yogurt, then heaped generously with cured salmon and a schmear of tamarind paste and what looked like a sprinkling of dill. I savored every bite. Not at all a traditional breakfast, but that wasn’t was I was looking for. I wanted something interesting and unconventional, something I would never think to make at home, and that’s exactly what I got.
I just had breakfast, but Juliet serves lunch and dinner, as well as a special weekend brunch. The lunch options are mostly sandwiches and soups, but dinner gets very interesting. They have an a la carte menu for a more walk-in style dinner, or they have their prix fixe dinner available in four different seating, either with three courses ($60) or five courses ($83). Menu items featured on the prix fixe menu include things like endive salad with treviso condiment, roast freedom ranger chicks with fennel and chili jus, and tarte tartin.
The variability of Juliet was really interesting to me. As Joanna put it, this is a part of their role in the community: by offering a variety of price points, they are able to be an accessible option for more people. In practice, I don’t know how much this has yielded the desired result, but it’s certainly a great idea.
I left Juliet very happy to have enjoyed an amazing breakfast, and excited to be back for an a la carte lunch or dinner—I’m not sure about the prix fixe dinner (it’s certainly outside of my price range!), but maybe when my parents visit…

“Some ‘Ting Nice” to Eat

by Audrey Thorne ’19

My insatiable hunger for Jamaican patties stems from a visit to my friend John (often identified on campus as Jamaican John) over winter break and has remained for so long, largely because of the inaccessibility of Jamaican food in the states. Though he found my addiction to jerk chicken and Jamaican patties comical during my visit, after a little pestering, he has since come to my rescue by showing me his favorite Jamaican place in Massachusetts.

All the way in Somerville, Some ‘Ting Nice Caribbean Restaurant delivers to Harvard dorms online and through Door Dash for a small fee. With an expansive menu written partially in Jamaican Patois and partially in other Caribbean Patois languages, Some Ting Nice is a Caribbean gem that I am amazed John was able to find outside of the Harvard bubble.

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Picture from DoorDash Website

Less than half an hour after pressing the order button for the most quintessentially Jamaican dishes I could find, Door Dash delivered an order of two patties with coco bread, jerk chicken, and sides of both fried dumplings and rice and beans, often referred to as rice and peas.

First we cracked open the jerk chicken. Throughout my time in Jamaica I stuck to what John considered the “bad” jerk chicken, flavourful but unspicy. In comparison, the spicy, mouthwatering collection of white meat chicken reads as far more Jamaican than the jerk chicken I ate in the country itself. John, unenthused by American food in general, even conceded that Some ‘Ting Nice’s jerk chicken “can pass” for Jamaican.

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Saving the patties for last, I decided to try the sides. Fried dumplings dubbed “unlike an actual fried dumpling” by John were indistinguishable to me from real fried dumplings as a non-native. Fluffy inside, crispy outside. They perfectly complemented the jerk chicken, contrasting the intense authentic spice. I also found the rice and beans tasted best mixed in with the flavourful jerk chicken sauce.

Last, and most highly anticipated, I cracked open the patties, one chicken and one beef. Upon unwrapping my patties I discovered the consistency largely varies from that of a Jamaican patty, being solid rather than flakey on the outside. Disoriented, I ventured a bite. The chicken tasted much like an American meat patty, and though delicious, did not quench my thirst for a Jamaican patty. I decided to try the beef patty. Perhaps this one will be the one, I hoped. Yes. Once my teeth penetrated the solid outside, the Jamaican influence in seasoning the beef became palpable. Though the outside texture was different, the consistency of the meat in this patty was the same as those I was eating just a month ago. Wrapped in a plush cocobread, I was transported back to eighty degree weather and sandy beaches.

Some ‘Ting Nice really is something nice to eat when you feel like taking a break from your regular spots in the square.

Tasty Mo:Mo

By Michelle Ng ’18

mo·mo
/ˈmōmō/
noun

  1. (in Tibetan cooking) a steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables.

MoMo

Tonight my brother and I ventured into Somerville to celebrate my post-first day of classes and his almost-first week back at school. Or, you know, for dinner.

He had suggested we try a take-out Nepalese/Himalayan place called Tasty Mo:Mo because we both love dumplings and momos seemed pretty much like adventurous dumplings. This way we could enjoy the security of a comfort food while feeling cool for trying new things—and, on top of it (as I realized after obsessive Yelping), by ordering momos we would be contributing to feeding children in Nepal. For every order of momo purchased, Tasty Mo:Mo donates $1 to an organization called Food for Education, which provides food to children in Nepal so they can pursue an education instead of working for food.

So we were feeling pretty good about this place before we even went in. Tasty Mo:Mo is small, as it turns out, with just one table in a corner, a TV up on a red wall, and a counter with a few high chairs against the opposite wall.

Interior

Likewise, the menu itself sticks with the classics, which I appreciate because it’s bold: the chefs know that the items in this limited selection are their best, and have faith that customers will be happy with them.

Menu

On a Tuesday night, two people managed all the restaurant’s business, one mostly cooking an impressive number of take-out orders, and the other dealing with all the customers who came in to pick up said take-out orders. My brother and I watched this unfold after ordering, later noticing a note on a whiteboard stating that food preparation takes about fifteen minutes, as Tasty Mo:Mo only serves everything fresh.

And—as promised—after roughly that much time, our food was brought out!

Here are our three dish-specific reviews:

Trays
Chicken Chow Mein Despite being initially torn between the Chicken Chilly or this noodle dish, I was so glad we chose this one. I don’t even know how or why it tasted so good, seeing as chow mein is such a standard dish I’ve eaten like five billion times. We watched the woman cooking take noodles out of a container and throw them on the stove, so like the fried rice, they came out super hot. (I burned my mouth.) She had tossed them with green beans, onions, and cabbage, and it was served with a sweet curry-type sauce. Happy to wait for the Chicken Chilly until next time!
Bite
Steamed Pork MoMo Here’s the inside of a steamed pork momo dipped in “tomato sauce,” according to the menu (which was definitely not Italian tomato sauce). It was good! They’re incredibly fresh, and our single order included eight momos. I’m accustomed to either steamed soup dumplings or pan fried dumplings, and momos (or at least Tasty Mo:Mo’s momos) are drier than those in that no juices ooze out when you bite them. They feel lighter than some super doughy or fried dumplings too, which is a plus! Other filling options include chicken, beef, or vegan (!!), but according to Yelp reviews pork is supposedly the collective preference.
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Egg Fried Rice The fried rice came directly from the wok to our counter so it was hot hot hot, and so different from the Chinese fried rice we’re used to. I couldn’t tell what type of rice it was, but it was soft and a bit oily, which my brother and I both liked. The pieces of egg are also larger than usual for fried rice. Featuring peas and carrots. Disclaimer that we were both ridiculously hungry and this came out first, but my brother LOVED this.

The woman who cooked is also super sweet and came out to chat and apologize for the wait (which was absolutely fine because her expertly managing five woks at once was entertainment in itself). NoodlesI admit that shoveling food into our mouths didn’t make us the best conversationalists, but I hope she knows we had good intentions. And she now definitely knows that we enjoyed her food.

In short, we began hungry and left stuffed.

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Overall, very satisfied! I think three dishes were a bit much for two people (even though we both eat a lot), so I’m also very full.  Having tried it once, I’m not sure I would make an enormous effort to return; but it’s definitely a 
hidden gem in Magoun Square and served us a great meal tonight for ~$10/each. And if I just so happened to be in the area…I’m not at all opposed to trying the Chicken Chilly next time.

 

This blog post has been reposted from Michelle’s personal blog, Michelle Ng. Check it out here to see more of her photography and blog posts!

Bergamot: Somerville Stand-By Delivers Exemplary Dishes in Sophisticated Space

by Bovey Rao ’19

In nearby Somerville, the buzz and activity of Cambridge and Boston seemingly do not exist. Quaint is the only way to describe the rustic buildings and quiet space. A mere ten minute walk, and you are able to escape the infamous “Harvard Bubble.” If you need a reason to allow yourself to leave Harvard to Somerville, go to Bergamot.

Bergamot is inconspicuous, sharing a building with a cable store and a kebab shop. It may not catch your attention immediately, but a glance inside the space reveals a sophistication that is unexpected.

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My dining companion and I had a reservation for two at 5:00 pm (opening time), and we were promptly seated. Our waitress greeted us and informed us of our options. The two most popular offerings are the $44 dinner prix fixe, composed of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert of your choice, and the $75 tasting menu, a creative sampling of the chef’s choice. Given our time restriction, we opted for the $44 prix fixe (menu items can also be selected à la carte). After some careful deliberation, we ordered our appetizers and entrees and waited patiently.

The customary bread and butter were delivered and were pleasantly surprising. The unique apple mustard butter paired excellently with an almost burnt crust and custardy crumb. My appetite was stimulated. I excitedly watched as plates of food began exiting the kitchen. As my plate was placed in front of me, I could barely hold myself back out of courtesy for my companion. The instant both plates touched down, we ravenously began to eat.

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Squid Ink Tagliatelle
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Sea Bass Crudo

The jet black squid ink tagliatelle left an immediate visual impact: a contrast of colors with a white plate and brightly colored heirloom tomatoes. The pasta itself was cooked a nice al dente, which gave it an almost meaty characteristic that complemented the sweet juiciness of the tomatoes. The light saltiness of the pecorino cheese plays on the palette like a light ocean breeze. My appetite slightly sated, I tasted the sea bass crudo and was confused by the complex saltiness from the avocado dressing, the floral notes from the petals, and the sweetness from the two types of melon. While these flavors bounced around my mouth, I was slightly off-put by the amalgamation of flavors. I could see the inventiveness in the exploration of taste, site and smell, but this particular dish was not appealing. We finished our courses and waited for the entrees.

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Scallops Provencal
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Korean Grilled Short Ribs

As our waitress deposited the plates in front of us, I sat in awe of the meticulous plating of each course. I started with my course, the scallops provencal. My knife sunk through the scallop like a warm butter. The scallop simply melted in my mouth but simultaneously retained the meatiness of a protein. In a state of sheer bliss, I was amazed by the sweet scallop with minor notes from the tomato sauce and dill. The green beans served as the necessary textural component to give the dish a crisp element. Enjoying my course, I sampled my friend’s dish, and experienced an entirely different sensation. In contrast to my dainty scallops, I was almost overwhelmed by the rich meaty short ribs. The slightly sweet Korean glaze was apparent, and it balanced the plate with the crisp salty wild rice pancake. Nothing could describe this course besides a masterful expression of umami (savory flavor). Fairytale eggplant and shiitake mushrooms only contributed more to the savory nature of the course.

As our meal wound down, we prepared for our dessert courses. To say the least, I was underwhelmed. My peach ice cream was a nice reminder of the end of summer, but the ice cream was slightly icy and detracted from the overall dish. The tres leches was also unimpressive, so we finished our meal on a slightly more subdued note.

Despite this, Bergamot provided an incredible meal and experience. While the wait times between courses may have been longer than expected, they allow time for a truly enjoyable dining experience. Prepare yourself by bringing friends and companions outside of Harvard Square and enjoy a phenomenal meal. While Bergamot may appear to be a formal white tablecloth restaurant, it exudes a familiar and homely vibe. Keith Pooler, Executive Chef and Owner, has created a comfortable dining environment for those seeking a good meal and a nice conversation.

Bergamot

Location: 118 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 02143

Reservation: OpenTable or by Phone (617)-576-7700

Stand out dishes: squid ink tagliatelle, Korean grilled short rib

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Food: 4.5/5

Service: 4.5/5*

Ambience: 5/5

* Note: the $75 7-course tasting takes 2 hours, so be prepared.