Thursday, July 7, 2011

Northdown Cafe and Taproom

Mrs. Hackknife and I found ourselves childless in the city last Sunday evening after attending an informal cocktail party held in honor of a former Olympic rower who was helping out a charity on whose board Mrs. Hackknife sits (it's a long story, even longer than the run-on sentence I just wrote). Anyway, I had unsuccessfully attempted to get us dinner reservations at a few places nearby, most of which were either full or closed for the holiday weekend, so we decided to walk over to the six-corner intersection of Ashland, Belmont, and Lincoln just a few blocks away to see what we could find. I was aware of a new restaurant/bar called Northdown Cafe and Taproom that had recently opened in the shadow of a tall condo building where some friends of ours live at that same intersection. The bar was hip, casual, and fairly full, but there were quieter tables in the back dining room, where a tattooed waitress directed us to sit for dinner. Right away, I was impressed with the menu, which had an emphasis on comfort foods prepared with local, seasonal ingredients and are designed to pair well with beers (sort of like The Publican, one of our favorite restaurants). Mrs. Hackknife considered starting with a plate of homemade bread with cheese, but I immediately overruled her when I saw the pork fries (see photo above), a large plate piled with hand-cut fries atop which sat pulled pork, cheese (almost like a mornay) sauce, bacon, green onions, and pickled jalapenos. This was Flavor Country to the extreme and it was outstanding - I could have easily eaten a whole platter by myself if not for the visions of my cardiologist swooping in and whisking me away to ER. After that monstrosity, we moved on to entrees, with Mrs. Hackknife ordering an almost equally-egregious compact turkey dinner (roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, rolled up into three balls and deep-fried, covered with gravy - yes, you did read that correctly). I went with something a tad less unholy, that being an Old Rasputin stout braised beef short rib sandwich, served with fontina cheese, pea shoots, and red onion jam on kick-ass Ciabatta bread (as a nod to my high cholesterol, I replaced the fries with a side salad). Both dishes were delicious and provided us with magnificent leftovers for lunch during the week (Ed. note - the remnants of the short rib sandwich were divine when dipped into our house pesto sauce). We washed down our food with two excellent beers (Green Flash Le Freak IPA for Mrs. Hackknife and a 3 Floyd's Apocalypse Cow for me, about the smoothest IPA I've ever had) and somehow even managed to find room for a little pie (black bottom banana - banana cream w/chocolate crust). Although I was almost uncomfortably full when we staggered out into the summer night, it was well worth it to get rock star grub and beer like we did....

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