I worked in Kenmore Square for a few years, and although we didn't go out for sit-down lunches often and (surprisingly) almost never went out for cocktails after work, I got to know the restaurants in the area pretty well. And yet, there are still places in the neighborhood that I barely know at all. Take Audubon Circle, for example. Located on Beacon Street towards the St. Mary's T stop, it's all of a five minute walk from Kenmore, and yet I had only ever been there once, and only for drinks at that.
So when I was invited to try the food at Audubon Circle, I knew it was a great chance to experience something that kept slipping off my radar. I arrived at the restaurant and settled in next to my good friend The Leather District Gourmet as the rest of the group arrived. We ordered drinks (I went with the Cucumber Kiwi Gimlet, above, which was perfectly tart and fresh) as we perused the menu, and Jayne, who handles PR for Audubon Circle, Tory Row, Cambridge 1, Middlesex Lounge, and Miracle of Science (all owned by the same folks), ordered a bunch of appetizers for us to share.
Soon the table was overflowing, and I got to sample almost everything. The cheese board was a lovely display that would be perfect to share over a glass of wine, and the white bean puree was a garlicky riff on hummus, served with lightly grilled bread. I especially loved one of the specials, pan-seared scallops served over a bed of creamy corn and topped with fresh (local!) peach salsa (above). We were told that this is going to be on the menu for as long as they can get the ingredients, so you have a few more days at least to stop in and order this. I found myself scraping up the last of the corn and peach, savoring that end-of-summer flavor.
As those plates were taken away, new plates arrived. The watermelon and feta salad was just alright, maybe because it's getting a little late for watermelon. The heirloom tomato and burrata salad, on the other hand, was absolutely perfect, bursting with flavor. The use of burrata (fresh mozzarella with a creamy soft center) instead of regular mozzarella introduced a nice texture contrast. The turkey, bacon, and swiss panini was a huge sandwich, something that would make a more than filling lunch - I didn't try the asian slaw that accompanied it, but everyone else enjoyed it. My favorite entree was the pork schnitzel, two large slices of pork pounded thin, perfectly fried, and topped with lightly-dressed arugula and pickled onions. It's easy to overcook such a thin piece of meat, but this was definitely tender, and yet it still had an extra-crispy exterior. I will definitely be ordering this dish again.
At some point in all this, I ordered a second drink - the acrb tea party. Made with tea-infused vodka, mint, lemonade, and lime, it's like summer in a glass. Totally refreshing. I loved the use of mint, which was subtle but recognizable.
Audubon Circle only offers one dessert, focusing on quality over quantity for a restaurant with no pastry chef. The chevre cheesecake with oreo crust is a knockout. I usually don't like cheesecake, but this was light and fluffy, with just enough tang from the goat cheese to be interesting. Definitely a good way to cap a delicious meal.
So while Audubon Circle has been off my radar for far too long, I can guarantee that I'll be back, and definitely not just for drinks!
Read more reviews of the evening from Elina, William, Liz, and Tina.
Full Disclosure note: I was invited to Audubon Circle by their PR person, and this meal was provided to me free-of-charge.