We recently visited Bondir, an intimate, farmhouse style restaurant with a modern flare in Cambridge, just past Kendall Square. Chef Jason Bond’s menu changes daily and features the region’s local farm and coastal offerings. The adventurous, carefully crafted menu boasts an intellectual and creative play on taste and preparation. It was a culinary adventure, to say the least.
Walking through the mauve, flowing curtains, we were greeted by the warm and welcoming restaurant family. We felt as if we had transported into a new age farmhouse ignited by a roaring fire, funky, modern hanging lamps and a soundtrack mixing the Shins, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Regina Spektor. In the laid-back setting, we felt right at home when the pleasantly reserved General Manager, Erin told us she was a twin, as were two of the servers, Kathleen and Melissa.
Our waitress, Emma suggested that we either sample 6 small plates or 2 to 3 large plates. Here are a few of our selections, with many recommendations from our attentive waitress and the chef, Jason Bond (hence the creative name of the restaurant which also means “to leap” in French):
Winter Beet Salad
Spice-Poached Forono and Golden Beets, Chioggia, Bronze Fennel, Blood Orange, Pickled Summer Carrots, Kañiwa, Handmade Burrata, Candied Walnut Vinaigrette
The whimsical arrangement of garnet, golden and marbled beets, spiky carrots, tiny bits of Kañiwa, velvety Burrata and greens looked more like a Dale Chihuly blown glass piece than a salad.
Scituate Sea and Nantucket Bay Scallops
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Yellowfoot Mushrooms, Tomato Preserves, Kalamata Olive, Smoked Vanilla Froth
Buttery, perfectly seared local scallops. The vanilla froth added a light dimension and the brushstroke of tomato preserve and Kalamata olives ignited our Greek taste buds.
Ragu alla Machelaria
Sanguitelle, Whipped Lard, Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Fresh Spruce Ricotta, Bitter Cocoa
A recommendation from our waitress, we admittedly had never tried this kind of pig before. Raised on the chef’s farm, Bond described the use of the Mangalista pig in his cooking with great nostalgia and pride. The sole painting in the restaurant’s dining room is in fact a sketch of the beloved pig. Accompanying the ragu was whipped lard and “sanguitelle” pasta- a Bondir-invented word that incorporated Mangalista blood into the pasta, creating a rich and almost briny taste and deep reddish/black color.
After talking to Bond mid-meal, we were inspired by his style. He likes to use what is fresh and available. Instead of labeling Bondir into a specific genre, he says he is simply inspired by what is local and in-season. A creative, intellectual approach, he also literally invents words to describe certain components of a dish. It was a nice departure from any kind of pretentiousness often associated with the popular farm-to-table rage. It was a pricey dinner, so go for a special occasion with someone who shares an adventurous palate.