Neighborhood Favorite

Bergamot offers fresh food and refined comfort.

Soft lights and subdued colors make Bergamot a relaxing spot to dine.

Once EVOO, the space that now holds Bergamot is a spacious square room with high ceilings. But it’s nicely warmed up with caramel-colored walls, an intimate bar, and a curvy red sofa near the door for those waiting to eat. The ever-changing menu offers lively, unfussy food (save the elaborate desserts) that owners Keith Pooler and Servio Garcia call “progressive American cuisine.”

What is that? Great cooking technique combined with little twists on solid, classic fare.

The bread came with a refreshing lemon-infused crème fraîche, followed by an amuse-bouche: a fried cremini mushroom with a dab of Asian cabbage slaw. House-made charcuterie ($12) varies nightly. On one visit, the plate included slices of finely smoked duck breast with mushroom duxelles, a slab of oxtail terrine topped by a fried quail egg, and a slice of braised pig’s head (we could not bring ourselves to eat it, frankly) with shards of green apple.

The appetizer of wide silky noodles, layered with sage-infused white beans, broccoli rabe, and juicy raisins ($13) had made its own complex broth (sopped up with crusty bread) and hit just the right salty-sweet-bitter notes. The fried oysters ($13) were a bit tough, but their bed of vinegary greens with garlic aioli and small cubes of pan-cetta and delicata squash more than made up for that.

Among the best entrées was a seemingly simple roasted chicken ($24). The juicy meat was cut from the bone and served, almost stew-like, with soft apricots, pistachios, and panko-encrusted endive—all in a delicate sauce with a hint of mustard or horseradish: a nuanced dish we could never tire of. The local swordfish ($26) was paired with wild rice and a few shrimp in a faintly garlic sauce that was a tad too salty, but altogether satisfying.

Dessert anyone? Hint: don’t be fooled by the menu’s mild “Betty Crocker” title, “devil’s food cake.” Bergamot’s sweets are rich, dramatic creations. The cake ($9) was cut into several deliciously dense one-inch squares complemented by passion-fruit curd and brown-butter ganache, along with oval mounds of sesame ice cream. Just as novel and conceptually interesting was the coconut crémeux ($9), a creamy yet chewy custard with lightly candied cashews, banana ganache, a triangle of bitter chocolate, and a miso ice cream that added a touch of salt to the raging mouth-party.

As a parting gift, Bergamot offers a free spoonful of sorbet, this time a carrot-citrus blend with white chocolate crumbles. This ended the evening on an extra-sweet note—and we promised to return, as many diners no doubt do.

Read more articles by: Nell Porter Brown

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