Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This Mockingbird sings

Slightly obscured from Route 18’s path in East Bridgewater, this passerby may easily have missed the Mockingbird Restaurant and Martini Lounge. In fact, upon entering into this fairly upscale establishment’s parking lot, customers can just as easily and mistakenly enter the gravel driveway of a nearby house to the right. This house is awkwardly situated given its proximity to the restaurant, and is on full display from the restaurant’s dining area window. Urban planning gaffes aside, does the Mockingbird make Paul’s Palate sing?

Although visibility is minimal in the entryway, my wife and I are brought into a larger, brighter room that emits a trendy confidence with its contemporary greenish colors, cushy couches, radiant lighting, and cathedral ceilings. The dining area is pristine, not a crumb in sight. We are immediately at ease, introduced to our attentive, courteous, if not slightly loquacious server.

From there, we let the martini marathon begin. This martini bar carries an astronomical assortment of eighty alternatives from which to choose. The Key Lime martini with a graham cracker-laced rim is simply sublime, while the Patriot (Blue Raspberry vodka, Chambord, sour mix, and Sprite) is equally refreshing. The lone disappointment of the bunch is the Aqua Marine (Hpnotiq with crème de banana and pineapple juice), which leaves a strange, sour aftertaste on the palate.

Merry from our martinis, we proceed to our appetizers, which prove to be by and large satisfactory. Although the beef barley is not as hearty as one would hope, the salad is crisp and light, layered with a zesty chardonnay dressing. The bacon-wrapped scallops are a winning dish, served moist, warm, light, and most importantly, scrumptious in a blackberry emulsion.

Entrees are generous in terms of both portion size and taste appeal. The duck is prepared just right (medium rare) and its accompanying pomegranate reduction is pure heaven – neither too sweet nor syrupy. This dish also scores high marks for its unique rice presentation, which is stacked high in a circular fashion. This reviewer, however, questions the logic - or lack thereof - behind including a bland side of spinach with such a rich dish. The roasted veal tenderloin is equally tender and also perfectly cooked, though once again, the pasta seems an oddity here. Minor complaints aside (get it?), the meats in these dishes are the stars and they shine brightly.

Dessert comes in the form of a decadent fallen chocolate torte that effortlessly falls into our mouths. This concoction is moist, warm, and laced with a gooey hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream. Dare I say that this chocolate lover’s dream is one of the finest I’ve devoured in quite some time?

Value-wise, Mockingbird cannot be beaten. Martinis and appetizers average out around $7 apiece, while entrees come in at $16. For sheer comfort and quality, that sure beats doling out at least twice that amount for a comparable meal in the city. The Mockingbird leaves Paul’s Palate singing a glorious new tune, and he believes it’s destined to be a hit.

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