Sandrine’s (Cambridge, MA)

In late June, a friend of mine, Jeff, had come to Boston for an extended weekend of, well, food and beverages. We decided it would be good to drive down and meet up with him for some light tourism (see my previous review on Modern Pastry), some cocktails (at Brick and Mortar, a rather nice speakeasy in Cambridge), and finally dinner. We ended up at Sandrine’s in Cambridge.

Located about two blocks from the Harvard Square T station, Sandrine’s is pleasant bistro focusing primarily on French cuisine, but dabbling in a few other European cuisines as well; a good chunk of the menu is Alsatian, giving a nice blend between French and German cooking.

The combination of my love of French cooking and this being Boston, Carol and I decided to start off with an order of mussels. And here, Sandrine’s came out strong: this was no meager portion of mussels, but an ample bucket of mussels with enough food for both of us, with the mussels being nicely cleaned, all of them opened, and the simmering broth being a very rich, flavorful, and garlicky broth. A great start to the meal, even if I did fill myself up a bit dredging up the broth with some bread.

As far as the main course went, I was quite pleased as well. Since they had a lot of Alsatian dishes, I decided to go for the German-influenced Choucroute Garnis, which turned out to be a very impressive collection of sausages and meats atop some house-made sauerkraut. This particular night, it was a selection including bauernwurst, boudin blanc, wiener, smoked pork loin, and bacon. Each of these was very nicely done and cooked perfectly. Adding to the quality of the dish was the sauerkraut, which had rich Reisling notes to it as well. This ended up being a veritable mountain of high-quality sausage, and it only cost a bit over $20. Getting this again, I may share it.

Carol did quite well with her lamb as well. The special for the evening, her lamb dish was three nicely roasted and sauced chops served on a bed of vegetables. Lamb is easy to overcook, and here they did a great job avoiding that. I’d happily order the lamb again as well.

For dessert, the large portions of the appetizer and main courses caused us to have to split dessert, which was a Chocolate Kougelhopf. Essentially the main regional desert of Alsace, Kougelhopf is basically a miniature bundt cake, here done up in chocolate with some ice cream. This was a pleasant cake: a good crust, a soft interior, and a flavor that was more chocolatey than sugary. Again, another hit.

Overall, Sandrine’s was a great place. The staff was friendly, the food good, the portions quite generous, and the prices reasonable. I’ll definitely keep them in mind for another Cambridge dinner outing.

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