Brunch at Sportello was an unexpected delight. Best described as a modern Italian diner, our trio hit up the slow-cooked eggs with duck hash, strozzapreti with rabbit and picholine olives, and a shrimp + avocado salad (pictured above) while sitting at the counter. The streamlined space – its rounded edges and monochromatic palette coupled with counter service – oozed the modern comfort of the best kind of neighborhood joint. And the perfect fuel for an afternoon of contemporary art.
Much later that evening, we traveled to Cambridge to check out the 28-seat Bondir, named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s top ten best new restaurants this year. As we waited in the corner by the fireplace for our 9:30 reservation, we were plied with raclette and bubbles. Once seated in the unadorned farm-style space, we ordered several small plates in waves of three courses.
My trio of dishes included a Jerusalem artichoke bisque, a Tamworth sow rillette, followed by a fall vegetable mignardises with Teff polenta and mustard oil. Each half dish, a perfect vignette of local seasonality, came on mismatched china adorned with herbs, flowers or chintz. Earthy and organic, dining at Bondir embodies the notion of a homey family gathering with Alice Waters as your great aunt manning the kitchen.
Both dining experiences, disparate in their cuisines and approaches, managed to share a familiar notion of comfort usually reserved for a beloved neighborhood joint. Although we live 120 miles away from these Boston and Cambridge neighborhoods, we felt a welcome usually reserved for regulars.