At first I was skeptical about the not-quite-deli, not-quite-coffee bar that moved in to replace The Cottonwood Cafe, a TexMex, blue cheese salad sensation. But I quickly found that a fabulous French deity has descended to grace the pantheon of restaurants situated on Massachusetts Avenue in Porter Square.
Metro, an authentic brasserie, bar and bistro, offers a bit of old world Parisian charm in the heart of suburban Cambridge. With its oversized wall panel windows and mosaic tiled floors, Metro offers a wide variety of dining options. The fresh-baked pastries, cooked on-site every morning, and variety a of breakfast drinks will entice the early-bird looking for a quiet, not-Starbucks atmosphere to pour over the day’s reading. And the patio tables, tiny enough for two, provide a great open-air lunch option: salad, sandwich and smooch while the weather is still New England brisk.
I was instantly lulled by Metro’s lively, chattly feel as our server, Jason—intimately familiar with menu items and more than willing to offer suggestions to a first-timer—informed us that the menus include a seasonal section. November patrons have the option of ordering a November plater pour deux with chestnut souffle, amuse bouche, a seasonal sorbet and assorted chocolates...kinda beats a pumpkin frappe in my book any day. When I wasn’t chatting it up with Jason about this dish or that soup, I was swaying to the smooth jazz standards that kept the ambience hovering somewhere between an uber-intellectual, beatnik coffeehouse and “a really nice diner,” and my Jersey-born date chose to qualify it.
Garden State similarities aside, Metro is a large enough restaurant to fill a variety of dining needs. There is a sit or stand bar for the flirtatious college crowd. Couples flocked to the front of the restaurant where the smaller tables, bought in at night, are an ideal place for a shared dessert plate. The dinner crowd seems a mixture of settled, middle aged Cantabrigians looking for a solid bite to eat and sitting in the family-sized bright red booths. In addition, there is a large banquet room, that, with its wine racks and authentic French antique cabinets, is a perfect place to hold the all-important 21st birthday bash or an intimate blockmate gathering.
The creative team behind Metro’s Parisian feel was so invested in creating an authentic cosmopolitan feel that it had the ceilings stained to emulate years of nicotine abuse and ordered all of the antique furniture straight from Paris.
The wine list alone made me feel like I had stepped into a European restaurant without even booking a flight. I had the Louis Latour Grand Ardeche with my Chicken Roti—a roasted chicken dish with laurel, garlic and butery goodness. The mixed green salad, assorted with a surprisingly sweet mixture of pickled grapes and butter-doused raisins, was a perfect compliment. In keeping with his Jersey roots my date had beef and fries, though at Metro the dish is called Steak Fritte. We finished the meal off with a pear tarte topped with caramel walnut ice cream and could do nothing more than sit back and relish the oncoming food coma. Our taste buds tickled and our palates sated, we left the Parisian restaurant all smiles.
Though the relatively steep prices might put Metro in the once-in-a-while category with the likes of Sandrines and Harvest, dinner there, or breakfast or lunch for that matter, would definitely be a treat.