Bergamot

A perfect complement to Somerville — or, for that matter, anywhere
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  May 24, 2010
4.0 4.0 Stars

In fact, Bergamot went four-for-four on the entrées, with plates of pan-seared sea scallops ($24) and monkfish medallions ($24), the latter done up into a kind of stew with artichoke hearts, bread sauce, and capers somehow fried into crisp chips. The scallops were three of the largest size, served with braised radishes, asparagus, fennel, and rich maitake mushrooms, all in a sauce of green garlic tops.

If that isn’t enough vegetable options for you, there are sides of fiddleheads and pancetta ($7) — excellent, though I favor plain butter with delicate greens — and asparagus ($7) in a soy-based fusion sauce.

Bergamot, which draws its name from bergamot oil (made from a citrus fruit and used to flavor Earl Grey tea), shows its origins in a number of beverage options. First up is the bergamot martini ($10), made with house-infused bergamot gin and the slightly sweeter Lillet aperitif in place of vermouth — no olive, no onion. For an off-dry martini, it is delicious and an excellent use of the unusual flavor. Mem Tea has also provided the restaurant with a bergamot tea ($4.50), which has more peel, less black-tea flavor than Earl Grey ($4.50). The only other name-check our night was the bright orange and yellow in the décor (along with brown and some ocher). Bergamot oranges are apparently the color of lemons.

Besides the eponymous infused martini, there are a few unusual draught beers and lots of organic and country wines, mostly French and American. We tried a glass of Coturri Sandocino ($12), a North Coast red. The moral: go back to organic winemaking and you risk an old-fashioned bad bottle. We might have been finishing bottles from the night before. Coffees are from the great George Howell, and he’s still great, judging from my cup of La Magnolia decaf Costa Rican ($3.25). You will want dessert with it.

“That Grapefruit Dessert” ($8) is a great choice, as well as a symphony in citrus: a handsome heap of pink grapefruit sections, a white chocolate madeleine, sorbet of elderflower liqueur, flavored with “micro cilantro” and pink peppercorns. Meyer-lemon steamed pudding ($9) is lighter and sweeter than it sounds, with coconut sorbet and a toasted quinoa tuile. Ending the size race in carrot cakes, Bergamot’s version ($9) is small, round, and crumbly, with a bit of cream-cheese layer, but a fabulous topping of shaved quite-ripe pineapple and a candied curlicue of carrot. The chilie-chocolate pavé ($10), based on Somerville’s finest stone-ground Taza chocolate and a milk-stout ice cream, is a lovely rich dessert. Put it all together and you get a chocolate bar 10 times more expensive than a Milky Way and 10 times as intense. Another amuse-bouche came with the check: little mango jellies called pâtes de fruits.

Service is a strong point at Bergamot. I did not review EVOO, but the new room seems more open and lightened up, with paper on linen, industrial lights, and visible ducts. The duplex space is a little too loud and too dark at night, but there are blessedly no TVs.

Robert Nadeau can be reached at  robtnadeau@aol.com.

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