Backbar and Journeyman

Last night Matt and I checked out Backbar, a new cocktail bar in Union Square. With Saloon open in Davis, and now Backbar, Somerville actually kind of has a craft cocktail scene now!

The space is small but very open. We made sure we got there early to get a seat at the bar. I think we got lucky because the space totally filled up by the time we left.

I ordered the Union Mule (pear-infused Gin, St. Germain, citrus, ginger, and spice). The bartender topped it with house made ginger beer, which made it a little fizzy and gave it a great kick.

Matt ordered a Sazerac.

They gave us some Spicy Caramel Popcorn to snack on. It was buttery, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. Yum.

Matt noticed a bottle of Cherry Heering Liqueur on the wall and thought it was funny. His grandmother thinks that his parents love it, so she buys them a bottle for Christmas every year. Since they never actually drink it, they apparently have quite a stash of Heering at home. The bartender heard us talking about it and gave us a little Heering cocktail after we paid our bill. I don’t remember what he said was in it, but it was surprisingly delicious.

I’m pretty sure I will become a Backbar regular.

We noticed that Backbar is connected to a restaurant next door called Journeyman. We had planned on going home to cook dinner and walked next door to look at the menu on our way. They only have tasting menus – 5 or 7 courses – but they offer 4 courses for $40 Sunday-Wednesday after 8:30pm. They even offer a vegetarian version of all of their tasting menus. It was almost 8:30 at that point so we thought, why not? We scrapped our dinner plans and went for it.

We were really happy to see that they had kitchen seats. I love being able to see what goes on “behind the scenes” while dining. These seats were practically in the kitchen!

The menu had a drink pairing option for the 5 and 7 course meals, but not for the 4 course option. We asked if they could do it anyways and our server happily obliged.

Our first drink was a Bavarian Double Bock.

I’m going to do my best at describing our food since I didn’t write down the menu descriptions and I can’t find the menu online.

The first course was Carrots and Barley. It had a whole roasted carrot, pickled carrot ribbons, and carrot ice cream. The barley looks like kind of an afterthought in the picture, but it was actually really tasty. All of the different textures, temperatures, and flavors in this dish were pretty insane. It was the kind of dish that makes you think.

We were also given some delicious homemade bread.

Our next course was a Fried Egg with Cauliflower. Like the carrot dish, this had all different types of cauliflower preparations. I think there was also a curry paste smeared on the plate underneath everything. The flavors were great and the egg was perfectly cooked. With this course, we were given a glass of a dry white wine from southern Italy called Donnaluna Fiano (not pictured).

Because Matt got the vegetarian tasting menu, our main courses were different. He got the Sweet Potato Cannelloni with Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Greens, and Coffee Crumble. The coffee flavor in this was a little too intense for me, but Matt seemed to like it. I thought every other part of it was fantastic though.

I had the Seared and Braised Veal. Both preparations were both beautifully cooked and seasoned. It was served with some kind of pesto made from bitter greens, what I think was a sunchoke puree, and a cranberry foam. They all really complimented the meat well and it was fun to mix and match! Our drink pairing was a wine from Piemont that was a mix of Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes (also not pictured).

Our dessert drink was my favorite of the night. It was a Cocchi Spritzer made with Cocchi Americano, soda water, and orange. I first discovered Cocchi when I was staging at Bondir. It kind of tastes like Lillet, but better. It never lasts very long in my house!

I honestly can’t remember what all was in our dessert. It had bergamont ice cream with some cake cubes and caramelized pecans. It wasn’t my favorite. But then again, I’m a big fan of traditional desserts (chocolate lava cake, anyone?), so I’m probably not a good judge.

They gave us a bonus dessert course! It was a mixture of little candies and cookies, including macaroons and little fruit gel things. I liked all of it but really didn’t need more dessert at this point. I will say that I was super impressed by their macaroons; I know first hand how hard it is to get smooth (not cracked) macaroons!

Overall, we loved our meal here. Everything was fun, playful, and super interesting. The service was attentive and very friendly. It’s definitely the kind of place that takes risks with their dishes – not everything is perfect, but you will get a fun dinner that is totally worth the trip.

9 Sanborn Ct
Somerville, MA 02143
Backbar on Urbanspoon

9 Sanborn Ct
Somerville, MA 02143
Journeyman on Urbanspoon

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