In the manner of several of the new gastropubs, the Foundry has an inventive wine list, 32 beer taps and a cask line, and a scholarly bartender (Andy Kilgore, late of Stoddard's) on the classic and modern cocktails. A critic can only drink so much, especially when beginning with a Sazerac ($9.25), a New Orleans invention bookending the sourness of rye whiskey with anise liqueur and bitters, then adding a bit of sugar for balance. I like it a lot. Wines by the glass include the well-regarded 2008 Zuccardi malbec ($9), with a lot of dark fruit to remind us that most of the great vineyards of Bordeaux were once primarily malbec. The beer list? It looks really interesting, with more German lagers on draft than even the beer-geek places have. Coffee ($2.50), decaf ($2.50), and decaf cappuccino ($3.50) are all fresh tasting, although I would not use cups with a brand name on them in my restaurant.
Desserts continue to straddle the comfort/bistro fence. You can pick a side, however, between the excellent brownie sundae ($7), and the somewhat disappointing chocolate-mousse trio ($8). The trouble with the trio is that one little cup (the Grand Marnier–flavored mousse) is superb, another (the ancho-chile mousse) is passable, and the third (plain dark chocolate) is a bit off on the dairy component. The sundae is two good brownies, good-plus scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and caramel sauce — my nominee for secret ingredient of the year.
An apple cranberry crisp ($7) sounds like comfort and leans bistro, so you have a bit of fruit and quite a lot of nuts and oatmeal-crisp topping. I'd use more fruit, and I'd mix other apples with the McIntosh for more texture.
Decorations in this room matter less than the expanse, but they run to some tin ceiling, ceiling fans, and a wood floor. It can get loud as it fills up, but it is nice and bright for reading the menu. The straddled menu brings in a well-mixed crowd, and service is very good despite the size. The water carafe is frequently refilled.
A thousand pardons for Mike and Ed, when I brain-burped and mistakenly wrote last week of a "Barsamian's curse" on 61 Mass Ave. That should have been the curse of the pretentious and overambitious James Bildner, who went broke in the space and 20 others all the way to Chicago. Barsamian's was a much better and longer-lived gourmet grocery in Cambridge, tanked only by a bad-luck lease decision. The brothers are thriving elsewhere in retail businesses, not jinxed at all, and if you don't tell them I goofed, and they stay off the Internet, it would be better for all concerned.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Foundry On Elm | 255 Elm Street, Somerville | 617.628.9999 | Open Monday–Wednesday, 11 am–3 pm and 5–10 pm; Thursday–Saturday, 11 am-3 pm and 5–11 pm; and Sunday, 10 am–3:30 pm and 5–10 pm | AE, DI, MC, VI | Full bar | No valet parking | Sidewalk level access