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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Biting into Brunch at the B-Side Lounge

Sunday morning is tough, and if you’re anything like me, nothing less than a bomb scare gets you out of bed- a bomb scare or brunch, that is. Brunch is special, you eat it once a week, giving you an opportunity to booze it up first thing in the morning, and spend the rest of your day sailing around like a fuzzy little cloud. So, kids, it’s important to do it right or instead of a fuzzy cloud you’re going to be a natural disaster, if you know what I mean. So for us late risers, Cambridge’s B-Side Lounge is perfect, serving a great brunch until 4:00 p.m. every Sunday.

The B-Side, located between Kendall Square and Inman Square on the corner of Hampshire and Windsor Street, was once called The Windsor Tap. A neighborhood bar where patrons would go to spend their social security checks and known by our grandmothers as “a bucket of blood,” The Windsor Tap was the quintessential dive. When put on the market in 1998, it was a hot commodity for Boston buyers. The great thing about the B-Side is that the owners, (up against such corporate Boston restaurant moguls as the Lyon’s group- who basically own Lansdowne Street) won out the bidding by writing a heart-felt letter to the former owner of the Windsor, appealing to their interests of being a family and locally orientated. Their dream was to keep it just the way it was, honest and genuine.

This sincerity comes through in the B-Side, where the policy is to shine attention on individuals for at least 15 minutes – that’s what the owner, Carrie, who works all levels of the business from paperwork to bussing tables, told me. The B-Side is now number one on the list of Boston’s hipsters. Even Ben and Jen had been sighted eating there, if anyone cares. Not to mention while I was there Conan O’Brien’s mom was floating around the place. Without the slightest sign of pretentiousness, B-Side is at once cool and retro, but also hails to its seedy past with the old Windsor Tap sign and original tile work. The music is vinyl, the atmosphere is humble yet fun, and the cocktail menu is second to none. Oh yeah, and the food is phenomenal. If you’re a true brunch enthusiast, you can’t go wrong with B-Side’s Bloody Mary. But if that’s not your bag, baby, there’s well over fifty specialty cocktails to choose from. They even have a cocktail called The Mullet, which is a Coors light with a woo woo shot (I wouldn’t recommend it for breakfast, but if that’s what you’re into- go to town). To start brunch I had the short stack of pancakes. These came highly recommended and were served with a garnish of fresh blueberries and strawberries. The short stack stacked up short, though.

Honestly, they were really dry (we hope the chef was having a bad day). The homemade blueberry maple syrup is delicious, and helped out but I still wouldn’t suggest the pancakes. If you do get a stack, try asking for extra syrup. Next up: the huevos rancheros, served in a skillet with home made fried tortilla wedges, rice, beans, salsa, scrambled eggs, and sour cream. It is a really good breakfast plate, not too generous of a portion to overwhelm a person first thing in the day, but big enough to feel satisfied. The salsa was fresh, the eggs weren’t too runny or hard, and the tortillas were crispy and warm. I also sampled the Fontina and asparagus omlette, filled with diced tomatoes, asparagus and melted Fontina cheese served alongside a toasted brioche bun and hash browns, a truly yummy treat. The potatoes were truly the highlight of this dish. I mean, let’s face it, it’s hard to screw up hash browns but we’ve all been there and it sucks.

The B-Side’s ‘browns are tender strands of flaky potato strings (kind of like angel hair pasta). They snap and melt in your mouth with buttery goodness. It’s a party in your mouth, so get down. I see it as my personal responsibility to have dessert for you guys (it’s tough but someone has to do it). I also feel responsible for coming up with a good drink to have with dessert (come on, I was at the B-Side). So, to finish my meal I had the Bourbon Pecan Pie à la mode and a Brandy Alexander. The pie is baked on the premises. It’s a generous slice (it looked like a quarter of the pie!), drizzled with caramel, and garnished with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, and vanilla ice cream. The pecan pie was a perfect balance of crunchy pecan topping, smooth filling, and flaky crust with a mellow undertone of bourbon. The Brandy Alexander was reminiscent of eggnog, but not as sweet. Creamy and soothing it’s a wonderful compliment to a nice warm piece of pie.

To speak candidly, the B-Side Lounge isn’t exactly the cheapest brunch in the Boston area (items range from $4-$14), but it’s really good and the drinks are inexpensive so it comes out even in the end. The bartenders are famed for being the best in the city and the kitchen works hard at upholding their status as one of the top restaurants to dine at, so regardless you get your money’s worth. It’s refreshing to eat somewhere that doesn’t see a need to over compensate the atmosphere to make up for their crappy food. The B-Side is like a natural beauty that doesn’t work too hard at looking good, because it knows it shines regardless. Clever, creative, and tasty in more ways than one the B-Side Lounge is truly a landmark for good times and good food.

To call for directions or more information ring the lounge at: 617-354-0766.