I did not go to Sarma last Thursday with the intention of reviewing it, nor did I go to WuBurger on Saturday with the intention of reviewing it, but each offers a good glimpse into the local restaurant scene that I wanted to add my scribbles to the plate.
Sarma on Pearl Street in Somerville is a magical place, and if you read nothing else in this review, read this next sentence …. This is an amazing restaurant with amazing food and you should go as soon as you can.
It is the next in chef Ana Sortun’s local empire, which already includes Cambridge’s Oleana and Sofra, and focuses on the small Middle Eastern meze plates, light tasting fare that are mixed and matched on the table. Simply delicious is the only way to describe what I ate. It included an out-of-this-world chicken dish that was brought to the table on spec in case we wanted to buy it and try it. Although we had passed on a soft shell crab dish earlier, thankfully we didn’t pass on this one. We were treated to a simply spectacular set of flavors in this lightly fried sesame wonder. The fried olives also redounded, though my white bean pate was less exciting. Dessert was delicious.
There are many other wonderful things to note about Sarma … the restaurant interior is spacious and comfortable. Vibrant is also an accurate word, the restaurant was simply buzzing with life, filled to the brim with diners. I also recommend getting a mixed drink. The one I had to start was a surprise, unexpected and unexpectedly good.
Finally, since eating out is as much about the experience as it is about the food, location of a restaurant can play a helpful supporting role. Tucked into a corner location in a residential neighborhood, you get the sense of walking into a movie set when you approach Sarma. Can’t recommend this place highly enough.
WuBurger by comparison just doesn’t rate. A local restaurant chain that started last fall in Woburn, WuBurger's newest location is in Inman Square in Cambridge. There is nothing out-and-out bad about it — I mean honestly, how hard is it to screw up a burger? — but the food was uninspired and uninspiring. And too salty. My biggest complaint about my Wu Burger was that it was just too damn salty. And the Wu Sauce, which is their proverbial “special sauce", was basically tasteless. The milkshake I had was good, but again — how hard to make that badly? — and the donuts for dessert were heavy and uninspiring. The one unmitigated success for Wu Burger is its interior decor, which gives a friendly, functional atmosphere to the place. So, my summation recommendation is, try it if you want, but don't hold your breath for taste Nirvana. And to WuBurger: Less salt makes for better burger.
249 Pearl Street, Somerville
617 764 4464 (Make reservations!)
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge