Sarma channels a Turkish tavern by way of Somerville

GOB_ThurstySarma2_1127

Photos by Derek Kouyoumjian

Depending on your thoughts on the changing of neighborhoods over time, the loss of longtime Winter Hill standby The Paddock in the summer of 2012 was either yet another sign of Somerville’s ongoing gentrification or a huge boon to the culinary health and vibrance of the city.

Word that the new tenants would be Ana Sortun and Cassie Piuma of Cambridge’s beloved Oleana and Sofra nudged things decidedly in the latter direction — you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have great thing to say about one or other other, if not both. That said, the strikingly modern addition of Sarma, which finally opened its doors last month, to the quiet residential neighborhood is a bit jarring at first blush.

Inside, however, the initial shock to Somerville’s system gives way to a sense of comfort, with its hybrid industrial (of course) and bright Mediterranean-aesthetic design. The sharp brick edges of the room are softened by playful, artistic touches — a hung door for a wall, colorful plates-cum-art, mismatched upholstered banquets, bright blue walls, dangling glass lamps and a mostly-open kitchen, just off the large stone bar.

GOB_ThurstySarma5_1127

The concept is based on traditional Turkish neighborhood taverns, the owners say. That influence can prove confusing — namely when, on your first visit, you encounter servers wandering the dining room and bar area with specials from the kitchen, which they try to hawk guest to guest, dim-sum style. It’s…different.

Many of those dishes, as at Oleana, take their flavors from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but are served small-plates style and meant to be shared. You could consider sharing offerings from the bar as well although, after a taste of one of the better concoctions (courtesy of bar director Vikram Hegde), you might be reluctant to hand it over. Fine, maybe just a tiny sip.

Hedge, recently of Island Creek Oyster Bar, takes his flavor inspirations from the kitchen. “One of the most important themes of our bar program is a marriage of kitchen to cocktail program,” he says. That means cardamom, mastic and Aleppo chili, to name a few of the less-predictable ingredients.

GOB_ThurstySarma_1127

The Hippodrome takes rhum Agricole, sage, lime and mastic, a resin common in Greek desserts. It’s akin to how we use vanilla here, he explains, but with a bit of pine and anise, and an earthy note that makes it well suited to rhum Agricole. The result is a bright, clean, mid-course palate cleanser that can be employed to soothe some of the hotter dishes.

The Cane Salata is an apertif style cocktail made with Punt e Mes, grapefruit juice and cancale — a blend of fennel, sea salt and orange peel — that is exceptionally tart and dry, in the best way. The Silent Seventh is a Pimms Cup style riff with vodka, muddled cucumber, Aleppo chili, lemon juice and lemon tea syrup.

Less is more when it comes to a lot of these ingredients, Hegde says, but they add a depth of flavor that’s remarkable without being overpowering. “I’m actually shocked by how receptive people have been to trying the drinks,” he says. “They have been going really wild for stuff on the menu rather than venturing off-list.”

Suddenly, gentrification is looking (and tasting) a lot more appealing.

Sarma, 249 Pearl St., Somerville :: 617.764.4464 :: sarmarestaurant.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.