Another Delicious Review: Nubar and The Kinsale

16 Jan

Today I find myself inflicted once more–this time with a head cold of some sort. It’s pretty angry. I’ve only had it for about a day and a half, and already my nose hurts from blowing it and I’m tired of sneezing. Something about working in an office feels equivalent to working in a day care sometimes. (No, I don’t have to change any diapers..thank god…) If one of us gets sick–all of us get sick due to the close proximity in which we work together. That–plus the recycled air we all breath for 8 plus hours a day.

Anyway, as my last restaurant  reviews seemed to go over so well–I decided to rally up a few more for anyone wanting more delicious reading material. My boyfriend reminded me of one particularly unpleasant time we had in October last year at a place called Nubar, and I thought to myself–the people must know of this travesty. I suppose my first red flag should have been that such a ritzy-looking restaurant had a Groupon deal. (Though–this is not always true! I’ve found some great deals on Groupon when it comes to dining for less!)  In this case, it happened to be a terrible foreshadowing.

Looking for something different to do on date night brought me to find Nubar, which is tucked inside the Sheraton Commander Hotel on 16 Gardner Street in Cambridge. I had no clue that this was the case when I booked the reservation, and ultimately after stepping off at Harvard station, my boyfriend and I were immediately lost. Pulling  for the kindness and knowledge of the restaurant’s staff, I phoned them from my cell in hopes of being directed. Unfortunately, I had no such luck. The hostess who picked up seemed pleasant enough, but was entirely clueless when it came to helping us find where she worked. Ultimately, her lame attempts to direct us got us more lost and frustrated than we had been before calling and as she was of no help I hung up. Luckily, my boyfriend happened to plug in the directions to his Iphone and managed to steer us back onto the right course. (For once–I celebrated his addiction to overly priced electronics.) Flustered, cold and hungry we finally arrived at our destination.

Upon entering Nubar you are greeted with a very chic, very pricey looking establishment. Warm yet calming colors adorn the walls, lit softly by dimmed IKEA-esq rounded lights that hang down from the ceiling at even intervals.Though the space is small; it is nicely broken up to make the most of the space.  When you enter you can see the bar to your left: the shelves behind the bartender are lined with clear or opaque bottles which are lit from behind.Plush-looking chairs line the bar, awaiting eager customers. Seating varied from table to table; couches, straight-backed chairs and rounded (almost reminiscent of my office chair) seating all in beige are scattered throughout the room but somehow manage to look nice rather than eclectic. The only problem with this set up I found is that when people begin to pile up at the bar–the space becomes stiflingly loud. I was no farther than an arm’s length from my date, yet we found ourselves shouting at each other to be heard, before giving up on talking completely. However, prior to the late night rush–the space is calm and relaxing and we enjoyed talking and sipping our drinks before the meal came. If after you read this little review you still decide to venture here–I recommend you arrive long before the dinner rush to best enjoy your time. Our waiter took his time arriving to our table to take our order, and once our orders were taken–we barely saw him. Had the restaurant been bustling, I might have understood his being so noticeably absent–but I was acutely aware of  several vacant tables around us and only a fair-sized drinking crowd at the bar. There was a point in our meal when dessert arrived and while placing the plate on the table, my fork fell to the floor. He hurried away so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to ask for a new one. My boyfriend, being the gentleman he is, gave me his fork and ingeniously used his knife to eat and share our dessert. Eventually, the waiter did come back with a clean fork–but it was too little too late.

By this time, we had been ignored by him as he scurried away to do–whatever it was he was doing–multiple times and we were both irritated by it. The food was decent and pretty on the plate–but generally forgettable. And more importantly, the food was definitely not worth the bill we were presented with in the end. Especially not with the gratuity that they INCLUDED in the bill. After the terrible service we received, the gratuity they included was outrageously high. Now, I’m no stingy tipper if I’m given half-decent service. But If I get cruddy service–I want the opportunity to express my dissatisfaction. Not only that–but even after calling and informing them ahead of time that I had a Groupon there was a whole to-do when we presented them with it. They treated us as if we were criminals of some sort as they scurried around with the slip of paper I had printed as if it were venomous. It took about half an hour for them to finally present the remainder of the bill to us. I wouldn’t recommend Nubar to anyone who is hoping for a memorable meal or attentive service. Overpriced and under-helpful, this place is probably more for people looking for a drink or two in a chic environment than a fancy night out for two.

If it’s a good meal for a fair price you’re looking for–I’d like to end off on a positive note and recommend  The Kinsale. This Irish pub and restaurant is a top choice for my friends and it and has been for a few years now. Just across the street from  the Government Center t stop, the Kinsale is a classic example of a comfortable Irish pub. Upon entering you are greeted by the hostesses and the bar which takes up the center of the room. The bar is a circle of dark wood, and false-marble pillars that surround the bartender as he bustles the usually sports-loving crowd. Televisions hang from the ceiling around the bar. The walls are intricately decorated with large brightly colored murals depicting what I’ve always imagined to be Gaelic folk tales, and around the bar area are tables made to look like they’re barrels surrounded by stools for when the bar top gets too full. The hostess escorts you to the left around bench seat tables, which are surrounded by polished wood and rough-looking stone in a way that is both charming and interesting to look at.

Once in the back,  you will notice the high ceilings with polished wooden planks  and more brightly-colored murals. This room is filled with high backed, green-cushioned benches, polished dark-wood tables, and stained glass windows. Rarely do I face any inattentiveness from the waitstaff here, in fact they tend to be very personable and eager to help when asked. Often I end up choosing meals based on what the waiter or waitress has convinced me is their favorite on the menu, and I have yet to get a drink there that I didn’t enjoy. Meals here are generally comforting and heavy. This is not a place for the food-fearful. Stews, meat-pies and bangers and mash are just a few of the leading roles on this menu. This place is also especially Silliac friendly and the staff tend to be fairly knowledgable about items on the menu that are best for people who can’t eat Gluten. Kinsale is the sort of place where you never feel rushed through your meal; the perfect place to take your time to relax and enjoy the meal while listening to (of course) Irish folk music in the back round along with the lilt and laughter of the other patrons. The Kinsale is perfect for casual nights out with friends, even large groups or a comfortable night out with that special someone. It helps that the prices are within reason–even affordable for the hungry college-goer.

As the last entry, if you want to check these places out for yourself you can find their websites below. Please send me ideas for new dining places–I’m always eager for a good meal. Happy snacking!

http://nubarcambridge.com/

http://www.classicirish.com/kinsale-home.php

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