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The Mass Media

Stick a Fork In It I Got Served

If only you could see the food.
If only you could see the food.

A few months ago I was invited to go to the opening night for this new club in Cambridge’s Central Square called Middlesex. At the time I had no idea they had food and honestly, now looking back I don’t think it mattered very much. I think this might be my first bad review (cue the dramatic orchestra music). So, sit back and listen while I lay out for you what might have been one of the most worthless eating experiences I’ve ever had.

Middlesex occupies what once was a truly wonderful Jamaican restaurant known as Rhythm and Spice. However, there is no trace left of this once famous icon of Caribbean food. All the walls were knocked out to leave a cavernous, warehouse-like space. Tall ceilings and massive windows are dimly lit with artistically placed track lighting. There is no artwork on the walls making the atmosphere have a minimalist, feng shui vibe. In fact, this minimalism extends itself to the furniture which consists of low tables and couches that are on wheels, allowing the patrons to literally create their own space.

I went with my friend who happens to be about six foot seven and it was very funny to see him try to make himself comfortable on a couch that almost shrunk at the look of him. Yeah, while the area was visually stimulating and quite interesting and cutting edge it wasn’t very conducive to a relaxing dining experience. You have to hover over a low table and squish your belly. Perusing the menu, I noticed that Middlesex has a very tasteful selection of high-end scotches and various other spirits.

There’s no Smirnoff, Jagermeister, or Schnapps, which personally, I can do without. It seemed to me that from all the attention that had been put into the liquor and cocktail selection that the food was an afterthought, but I second guessed myself when I saw that the kitchen was subtly exposed behind the liquor shelves at the bar. There was something about the visibility of the kitchen that told me,”hey, maybe they have more to offer than some fine cocktails.”

There are about ten food selections for one to choose from which might be coined as “eclectic” or “new American,” whatever that means. Mostly, they are finger foods meant to be enjoyed while one drinks and dances but if a person is hungry there’s a Kobe beef burger offered. Personally, I don’t see why Americans need to get their beef from Japan when we have cows here. Think of the air pollution. So, I attempted to relax and drink my dark and stormy while I listened to this fantastic dj spin his loungey magic. For a starter the waitress brought out Middlesex’ formaggio cheese plate. Four triangles of cheese were displayed on a butcher block with rounds of baguette and a walnut paste. I can’t even tell you what kind of cheese’s they were because when I asked the waitress she had no idea, but I’ll try to take a stab of it. There was a really creamy, yummy brie, a bleu, something else brie-like, and something that tasted like sheep. It was a very tasty selection, especially when mixed with the walnut paste, which gave a sweet, mellow undertone to the stinky cheeses. However, the bread was stale and the waitress only gave us one knife.

Again, I have a very big friend and I almost had to get into a fistfight with him to be able to eat. We were almost done with the formaggio plate before we were able to get another knife. He and I were the only people in there. I am a waitress and that kind of stuff really rings my bell. Next, we sampled their ten tiny tacos. In actuality, they are Frito-Lay Scoops filled with black beans and pulled pork.

While this would be a good party app I wasn’t expecting that for six bucks a plate. What can I say? They were salty. We then tried the porcini raviolis, which had a very simple flavor. If you don’t know what that means, let’s just say they were boring. They were extremely buttery and had a faint garlic flavor to them. Lastly, we had the grilled shrimp with citrus dipping sauce.

They were really good. The shrimp were fresh and grilled so that the outside was blackened and somewhat caramelized. The citrus dipping sauce is reminiscent of an Asian duck sauce but not as sweet. Instead it had a smoky taste that complimented the shrimp. In all, I would suggest the grilled shrimp and the cheese plate as a must if one would insist on eating at Middlesex. Definitely, indulge yourself with a nice glass of red wine or port to go with the cheeses. So, what have I learned from this experience? Well, for one if you’re not full after spending thirty bucks you’re a hungry idiot. I don’t want to be completely negative. Middlesex is a pretty cool spot- for dancing and drinking. But, there are a ton of good restaurants in Cambridge and there is no reason why one should waste their money at Middlesex. Definitely go there to check out their awesome dj’s and dance the night away while drinking their really yummy cocktails, but do yourself a favor and have dinner some place else. You’ll thank me for this later.

Food Selections Range from $5-$12. Open for lunch until 2:30. Dinner from 5:00- midnight. Located at 315 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge. For questions call (617)868-6739 or go to http://www.middlesexlounge.com/ If you would like Vanessa to come to your restaurant email her at [email protected]