Nosh On: Puritan & Company is pure goodness
Be careful not to splash when you wash your hands at Puritan & Company. While the toilets in this two-month old restaurant have privacy, hand washing is done in the corridor, communally. It isn’t a question of living up to the Puritan aspect of the restaurant’s name, just optimizing space.
Many Boston storied chefs have downscaled, and so has Chef Will Gilson with his debut restaurant, and it is a posh spot in otherwise bohemian Inman Square. Think: Williamsburg nouveau-juvo foodie.
Gilson, a 13th generation Mayflower descendant, is rooted in New England tradition, but here he spreads his wings. Grilled cobia, a meaty white Caribbean fish, is perfectly cooked and adds lightly braised escarole, but not enough of the pease porridge – an olde English split pea stew enriched with ham.
Among the charcuterie is a rough-cut duck and beef sausage with green lentils, pureed potatoes and wonderful golden beets. Gilson even gives local dishes a French spin. Bluefish is rendered into an uber smooth pate with lots of garlic and the quahog stuffies are actually gougères filled with chopped clam in béchamel.
Perhaps he knows farm produce best, though. Delicious hay-roasted carrots with onion ash oil and caraway somehow come off with a vanilla accent. Toasted barley risotto, a warming winter dish with wild mushrooms, is enriched with Parmesan and nicely accented with marjoram.
Puritan & Company, named for the Puritan Cake Company the building once housed, is indeed a suave spot with blueish-gray painted brick and fetching fleur de noir upholstered banquettes. The hostess stand is a meticulously restored century old enameled stove from Gilson’s family farm, the Herb Lyceum in Groton.
The open room has stout central bar and no TV – a wise move to maintain social elegance.
Desserts are few but fanciful: Honoring its namesake perhaps, two small cubes of rum cake are topped with coconut ice cream and served with toasted coconut and cashews sprinkled with a touch of sea salt. The Toll House cookie dough sundae rubbishes tradition and places a dark chocolate-coated cookie dough cake in a sauce of melted vanilla ice cream.
Puritan & Company
1166 Cambridge St., Cambridge