Before I started working in Kendall Square, I had only explored the food scene a little bit - Belly Wine Bar, Catalyst, Friendly Toast, Lord Hobo, Tatte Bakery. Since my first day on the job in January 2015, I have had a blast eating my way through the neighborhood. Over the past two years I've dined at Abigail's, Ames Street Deli, Area Four (brunch and dinner), Commonwealth, KIKA and Mamaleh's. This week I added another Kendall spot to the list, State Park. The restaurant is actually owned by the same team who opened Mamaleh's last summer.
The restaurant is down a flight of stairs, under Bon Me. I went on a cold, rainy night, but in the warm weather they have outdoor seating beneath twinkle lights.
On the other side of the front door is a small entry way, illuminated by a custom stained glass window with the restaurant's name.
Just a few steps beyond the front door is the private room. This would be a great spot for a promotion celebration with coworkers, a birthday meal with friends or even a client dinner. I love the funky light fixture, the wooden table and the lipstick red chairs.
The State Park space has three main areas - the bar (which was packed when I arrived at 5:30pm on a Tuesday), the pool table area and the booths (for seated dinner). We snagged a booth and wasted no time perusing the menu.
State Park has a great cocktail list, including really fun drinks that can be ordered as pitchers. I love a Pimm's Cup in the summer and I can't think of any place I have been that offers them by the pitcher!
For all my pregnant friends, they also have an alcohol-free section, cleverly named "Designated Driver."
My dinner date ordered a cocktail called the lion's tail which was whiskey, all spice, lime and bitters. After a few sips she said, "This drink is really well balanced. Sometimes whiskey can be overpowering, but with this cocktail it's just right."
To begin the meal, we decided to share the fried brussels sprouts appetizer. They are topped with Caesar dressing, truffle and brioche crumbs, then blanketed in grated cheese.
When it comes to brussels sprouts, there is no greater dish in Boston than the buffalo brussels sprouts at Highland Kitchen. But those aside, the State Park version may be the best I've had. The sprouts had a tasty crispiness to them from the fry, the Caesar dressing adding a creaminess to every bite and the brioche crumbs offered a subtle crunch. I would go back just to eat these again.
My friend ordered the roasted tomato soup with cheese crackers and chives for her entree. I could tell just by looking at it that the soup seemed a bit thin and runny.
After a few spoonfuls she explained, "This tastes more like marinara sauce soup than tomato soup."
Though her choice was a bit of a bust, my main dish was exceptional. The plate was called Grandma's potato dumplings, served with black trumpet mushrooms, root vegetables and mustard greens. When I read the description, I was expecting something like a pierogi, but what arrived with more like potato gnocchi.
When our waitress put the plate down on the table, right away a delicious smell wafted up, giving a preview of the dish's decadence.
The "dumplings" were the perfect size and texture, not gummy like gnocchi can be sometimes. Their subtle flavor allowed the veggies and mushroom sauce to shine.
I wanted every last drop of the sauce on the plate, to the point where I was holding a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other, determined to pick up every last morsel.
Once our dinner plates were cleared, it was time to focus on dessert. State Park offers three things: cream pie, funfetti cake and an ice cream sandwich. Take a guess on which one I wanted?
Our waitress let us know the ice cream sandwich being offered that night was made with two white chocolate brownies, packed with pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. Duh. Happening.
The sandwich arrived on a dessert plate, wrapped in wax paper.
The sandwich was hard to photograph in the dim bar lighting, but hopefully you can get the gist.
I was so looking forward to the two components our waitress described, but the brownies tasted like lemon bars (ick) and you couldn't really taste the pumpkin flavor in the ice cream at all. This ho-hum sandwich left me wishing we had ordered the funfetti cake instead.
Overall, I think State Park is a great place for after work drinks or to grab a quick bite before a movie at the Kendall Square Cinema. I will definitely be back for those brussels sprouts.