Conga's

Faking it, just not quite making it
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  February 24, 2010
2.0 2.0 Stars

Caribbean dishes, closer to Central America geographically, are also askew. Mofongo Con Camarones ($16) is supposed to be an Afro-Antillean mash of plantains topped with shrimp creole. There's plenty of shrimp, but not much flavor to the sauce or funk to the mush. Pollo Guisado ($10) ought to be a salty Dominican stew on rice, served with salad. It's close to that, but not quite. That said, anyone selling a 10-buck entrée in Harvard Square that isn't a burger gets applause.

Conga's wine list is mostly Spanish and economical. A pitcher of sangria ($4.75/glass; $19/pitcher) has the right idea — not too sweet, red with some orange and apple slices. It will be terrific at the outdoor tables come summer.

Desserts are a step up, especially the orange panna cotta ($5.95) with creamy molded pudding, only a few more canned mandarins, and real whipped cream. Bread pudding ($5.95) is always good, but I am also captivated by chocolate pizza ($8.50). Milk chocolate, chopped peanuts, a thin glutinous crust — it just works for me on the primal level, and it's certainly not pretending to be anything but what it amazingly is. The flan ($6.95) tastes okay, but is granular at the custard level.

Getting back to that name: there is a pair of student conga drums in the room, and guitars and cymbals on the wall, along with signed posters of Latin pop stars. The background music is salsa, and there is live music on Wednesday nights. The marble floor, left over from an Italian café once in this space, suits the tapas theme. But in Madrid it would be covered with shrimp and peanut shells. Red tablecloths are topped with glass — that would be the Thai owners' influence.

Our server, a student from Central America, was excellent, and described the menu accurately, yet with enthusiasm. Atmosphere is under construction. On our quiet evening, it was not happening. Still, I could easily see this place packed to the rafters with partiers.

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

< prev  1  |  2  | 
  Topics: Restaurant Reviews , Foods, Desserts, Seafood,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY ROBERT NADEAU
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   REVIEW: BONCHON  |  August 10, 2012
    What am I doing in this basement in Harvard Square, reviewing the second location of a multi-national franchise chain?
  •   REVIEW: CARMELINA'S  |  July 25, 2012
    After a good run with "Italian tapas" under the name Damiano (a play on the given name of chef-owner Damien "Domenic" DiPaola), this space has been rechristened as Carmelina's — after the chef's mother and his first restaurant, opened when he was an undergraduate in Western Mass — and the menu reconfigured to feature more entrées.
  •   REVIEW: TONIC  |  July 06, 2012
    Bad restaurant idea number 16: let's do a neighborhood bar-bistro where there already is one.
  •   REVIEW: HAPPY’S BAR AND KITCHEN  |  June 20, 2012
    In a year of bad restaurant ideas, one of the better bets is to have a successful fancy-food chef try a downscale restaurant.
  •   REVIEW: GENNARO'S 5 NORTH SQUARE  |  June 18, 2012
    In year of bad restaurant ideas (often done well), this the worst idea — and best meal — yet.

 See all articles by: ROBERT NADEAU