Friday, November 4, 2011

Dinner at Area Four and a night cap at Catalyst

Recently I had a girls night with some lovely ladies: A, C, and G.  Being the blogger, I was tasked with finding a fun location for us girls, and based on a couple of things (location, cost and my desire to try somewhere new) I decided on Area Four - small plates and a good bar list always makes for a fun way to dine with a group.  So, we headed over to Kendall Square on a Friday night - who knew it's becoming a place to hang out outside of business hours!

When we arrived at Area 4, we actually were able to grab a 4-top in the bar area straight away and they said they would make a exception and give us a server - perfect!  However, these chairs were not what you would call easy to sit on - they were pitched forward, so I kept sliding out.  I promise I was not the only one having this problem.  Once we figured out the seats we looked over the drink menu, and while some decided on white wine and another on a pumpkin beer, I went with a sangria because I am always looking for a good red sangria.  This one was actually pretty good - a bit more juice-like but not too sweet.

Red Sangria
After reviewing the Area Four menu we decided on a couple of items that we could split.  The first to arrive was the roasted mushrooms with Maderia vinaigrette and gremolata.  Now, they were only $5 so I am not sure what portion I was expecting but what came out was tiny.  Really, we had about 2 or 3 mushrooms each.  This plate really is not one to share.  The flavors were good, but the size was off.

Roasted Mushrooms
Next to arrive was a bit of redemption: KK's bacon and sea salt pretzel nuggets with a side of Pimento cheese dip.  While these were tasty, soft on the inside with a little crunch on the outside, I did not get much in the way of bacon flavor.  The bites were great for snacking and were a more generous portion.  Also, they are definitely a different dish on a menu that was fun.

Pretzel Bites
Next up was the Mac and Cheese with a croissant crunch topping.  The dish was served directly in the cast iron skillet, which was a fun presentation.  The mac and cheese was really cheesy and creamy.  I wish there more crunchy topping to contrast with the cheesiness of this dish.

Mac and Cheese
Lastly we ordered one of the flatbreads.  I believe this is the sausage pizza with mozzarella, pecorino and parsley.  The pizza normally comes with banana peppers, but the kitchen was willing to make a substitution, which I always appreciate.  The crust on this pizza was nice.  You could definitely tell it had been cooked in the wood-fire oven.  The pizza was a nice size for only $13.

Area 4 was good and had some interesting dishes on their menu and a good bar list to boot.  While the prices do not seem high, it is reflected in the size of the dishes.  However, after this meal all four of us left full and did not have to spend a fortune.

Area Four on Urbanspoon

Seeing as Area Four is right across the way from Catalyst, there was a big open fireplace in the bar area and it was one of the first cold nights, we decided to extend our evening a bit longer.  Catalyst is very sleek and modern with a loft-type vibe - high ceilings with some exposed beams.  Also, the place is huge!  The bar just seemed to keep wrapping around.  We grabbed some upholstered chairs around the fireplace and ordered some drinks.  The couches with the backs were a lot more comfortable for lounging that the benches - I luckily had a couch seat.

Warm Fire
We went up to the bar and placed some drink orders.  With some great cocktail options we obviously experimented.  The cocktails included the Pimm's Cup, and while I want to love this drink, I actually really can't stand it.  But for those that enjoy a Pimm's, this one is good - it is made with Pimm's, citrus, cucumber water and ginger.  Another cocktail was the Flora Dora, which had Hendrick's, lime and muddle raspberries.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this drink!  Finally, we ordered the Grey Dawn, which had Greylock, Aperol, orange and Peychauds - again, another delicious drink.  All were pretty strong - no alcohol skimping here!  I actually went with a beer, and though they were out of my first few choices, their menu was large enough to find a good substitution.

One of the ladies was still craving savory foods, so she ordered some fries.  The fries were good, but nothing special.  I did however enjoy their house made ketchup.

For those of us ready for something sweet, we decided on the Bosc Pear Tart with house made crème fraiche ice cream and candied almonds.  I really enjoyed this dessert, from the strong pear flavors to the combination of textures on the plate.  

This small taste of Catalyst made me excited to return and try the full menu - plenty of interesting entrees that would probably make for some difficult choices.

Who knew that Kendall Square would become a new go-to place for restaurants?!

Catalyst on Urbanspoon


  1. I have been meaning to check out Area IV- glad to hear your thoughts on it! I had the same dessert at Catalyst- and loved the texture combinations as well :-)

  2. I definitely want to check out Area Four. I think you did a great job picking the places for your girls night out!

  3. I LOVE Area Four. I've eaten there so many times but still haven't gotten the mac and cheese

  4. I had a similar experience at Area Four. I wasn't wowed, but I think I need to visit one more time. Next time, be sure to get dessert!

  5. i know, it's crazy there are so many new places over there! area four has been on my list, too :)

  6. I'm famous on the internets! If only in the form of an initial :) I look forward to my hand modeling debut in your Highland Kitchen post too.

    This was a great night. I could eat that pear thing everyday with no regrets!

  7. Wow, all the food at Area Four looks fantastic!

  8. I lovelovelove Catalyst! You def have to go back and try more items from the menu. I was just at Area Four yesterday and share your opinion. The food was good but I wasn't blown away...

  9. I am also shocked that Kendall Square has picked up so much. I worked over there for 5 years and we had pretty much nothing (but Blue Room's lunch grill is awesome!) - and now I've left and there's all sorts of good stuff. Luckily, I still live close by and can head down there for dinner. I found Area Four to be overpriced for what you get... but I did have some dishes I really enjoyed. Catalyst was great the first time I went and just okay the second time. The fireplace is definitely a nice touch. (Try Abigail's next!)

  10. Looks like such a fun night out! I will definitely have to check Area Four out.


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