I’d almost forgotten over the past year how much I love a fine restaurant experience. Creative food, unique cocktails, attentive service, the company of close friends—that’s a lot to savor. Plus from my years of experience working in restaurants I’m aware of and interested in all the details: the layout and logistics, the way the staff works together, how the table is set, even (especially?) what glass a cocktail is served in.
For the record, I had a drink called a Bunsen Burner, with rye, cognac, vermouth, and bitters. It was served in a coupe—although I’d prefer a martini glass—yet I managed to put that minor quibble aside and order a second one after the first one disappeared so easily.
This restaurant is called Catalyst and is located in a mostly nondescript area of office buildings near the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. Harriet, of course, discovered it. She’s got a talent for picking the right places.
We sat outside where tables were set up on a wide sidewalk that pre-pandemic I’m quite sure was never even considered as an outdoor dining space, but tonight was perfect.
I’d been warned to expect poor and slow service because so many restaurants are having trouble filling open positions now. The service was fantastic. We way over-tipped. I’m guessing the better establishments aren’t having as much trouble finding employees as the corner pubs or diners are.
Duck confit summer rolls, braised lamb pappardelle, roasted blue cod with clams and mussels—I’m not cooking dishes like these at home, and to have this kind of food again, expertly prepared, provided an almost forgotten pleasure.
And the city of Boston. Its sports teams aside, I do love Boston. A perfect mix of the old and new, of buildings and parks. I have this image of myself there, in a brownstone on a street thick with overhanging trees, bookshelves filled, my papers spread across my desk, maybe a fountain trickling in my garden patio. Able to walk anywhere I want to go: stores, restaurants, parks. It’s just an image, not even a fantasy, and hardly a plan.
I’m fortunate to be back out there again, appreciating things I might have overlooked or taken for granted before.