Non-traditional, Mediterranean fare near Tufts makes for an eclectic winner
RESTAURANT REVIEW: SABUR
At first glance, Sabur looks modern but one step inside you are transported to what looks like a local North African restaurant – not bad for a restaurant five minutes away from Tufts (downhill). Perhaps it’s the dim lighting coming through the ornate light fixtures created a cozy feel, or the space itself: warmed by a clay oven in the main room and a bar area that invites you to settle in for a good time with friends.
Attentive servers are quick to bring us water and fresh, warm bread. The bread was served with an olive oil and spice dip that was light and flavorful. However, there was a copious amount of salt resting at the bottom of the dipping bowl, which was overwhelming to taste.
We ordered a trio of appetizers starting with the Zucchini and Feta Fritters with Ajvar. The Zucchini fritters were delicious and serving size was perfect for a group of three to four. The outside crust was freshly fried, but not too doughy which was great. The inside filling was almost too wet, but the feta cheese held it together. The cold, red pepper sauce that accompanied the fritters, however, was a little too sweet for the dish. Perhaps something warmer and spicier might have enhanced the fritters.
Next came the warm goat cheese dip with crackers. The goat cheese was baked until golden and rested atop a red pepper salsa alongside some baked sesame bread chips. In my opinion goat cheese tastes great with almost any dip, but the red pepper sauce was too sweet since I was expecting something spicy or savory. Further, the sauce was cold and that was an odd contrast to the hot goat cheese. The dipping bread was too hard, and actually cut the roof of my mouth. This dipping dish needs a spice-makeover.
Completing the trio was the hummus and pita squares, which was a safe bet since we were at a Mediterranean restaurant. Sure enough, the hummus was delicious- fresh and not too lemony. The pita bread slices were small, perfect for dipping and they were served warm, as if they had been freshly taken out of the oven.
The entrees came shortly after the appetizers, leaving not quite enough time to finish them. The presentation was artistic yet simple. We ordered the Seared Sea Scallops with Crab Polenta Cakes, Asparagus, Moscato, Truffle Butter Sauce and Home Made Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Gnocchi with Roasted Red Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Emulsion.
The scallop dish looked beautiful, and didn’t disappoint. The scallops were fresh, but unfortunately only three came on the plate. The crab polenta cakes were divine, just enough crunch and soft polenta. These two highlights of the meal were set upon a pile of sautéed spinach and onions and asparagus that were frankly over cooked to the point of sogginess. Using less salt and less oil would have taken this dish from just good to excellent.
Gnocchi is not usually served with such a light sauce, but Sabur made the brave attempt of garnishing this potato pasta with an oil-based broth. The over all flavor was dull and too oily. The dish appeared more like a stew rather than a pasta dish. The roasted peppers were over cooked but would have added a much-needed crunch.
It is clear to see Sabur attempts to provide a non-traditional and unique eatery. However, the overall culinary experience was lacking. While each dish had delicious characteristics, there was always too much of something (often oil) and not enough of another thing (often flavor). Sabur has an extensive menu, however, and there are so many other appealing appetizers and entrees that we haven’t given up on the experience yet.
212 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144-2432
– Photos, article by Camille Bergsrud