Temple Bar’s beef carpaccio

Elevating a classic
By KENJI ALT  |  October 22, 2008

TempleBar4-copy-INSIDE.jpg

Beef carpaccio has suffered an unfortunate fate. Like seared tuna and fondue, it’s a well-loved classic that’s entered the world of the hackneyed thanks to heavy-handed overuse on faux-fancy bar menus. It’s the kind of thing that would have looked dauntingly elegant to me had I saved up enough money to take my date out on Valentine’s Day back when I was a sophomore in college (if I’d had a date then), but now just seems old hat. That’s not to say that a perfect carpaccio is not delicious — it is — but unless you own an unpretentious casual Italian bistro or were riding a Vespa for at least five years before they became cool, you’ve got no business serving this beleaguered standby. At least that’s what I thought until I tasted chef Tom Berry’s pan-Mediterranean version at Temple Bar.

Though the name might bring stools and high-tops to mind, Temple Bar (named after the cultural quarter of Dublin) is all warm lounge furniture and sleek leather banquettes — a much better setting for its comfortably upscale cuisine. Paper-thin slices of lean, raw beef form the familiar base of their carpaccio, but in place of the traditional EVOO is a thin drizzle of olive oil dyed crimson red with pimentón de la Vera, the smoked paprika that gives Spanish chorizo its characteristic smoky-sweetness. Continuing the Spanish theme, shavings of Parmiggiano-Reggiano are swapped out for equally sharp and nutty Manchego. With mild heat from the pimentón, peppery arugula would be redundant. A simple pea-green salad adds freshness instead.

If there’s one complaint I’ve always had about carpaccio, it’s lack of texture: soft on soft on soft. But Berry deftly and deliciously solves this problem with a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt, crushed Marcona almonds, and fried green olives — the latter quite possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. (Note to self: open bar, replace peanuts with fried olives, get rich.) A splash of sherry vinegar rounds out the flavors and the Spanish theme, and firmly reasserts raw beef’s position as a legitimately fashionable and delicious entry to the appetizer side of a menu.

Available for $9 at Temple Bar, 1688 Mass Ave, in Cambridge. Call 617.547.5055.

  Topics: Hot Plate , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY KENJI ALT
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   TEMPLE BAR’S BEEF CARPACCIO  |  October 22, 2008
    Beef carpaccio has suffered an unfortunate fate.  
  •   BROOKLINE FAMILY RESTAURANT’S DÖNER KEBAB  |  October 29, 2008
    This Greek-turned-Turkish restaurant serves up fresh, authentic fare that could put to ease homesick Turks and Brits alike.  
  •   ROSTICERIA CANCUN DOS  |  August 06, 2008
    The first and most striking difference is that Cancun Dos has tables and a kitchen (at Cancun Uno, you had to settle for a counter and a stove).
  •   TANGO'S MOLLEJA  |  October 29, 2008
    The molleja act as carrier for the intense flavor of the grill and boasts a crisp, salty, nearly blackened crust.  
  •   EL POTRO  |  July 23, 2008
    Like a Mexican wrestling luchador, El Potro hides its true identity under a mask.

 See all articles by: KENJI ALT