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5 Craigie Cir. (Concord Ave.) Send to Phone

Dinner Tues.-Sat.

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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED Butterfish Restaurant Review

: Cambridge’s Butterfish represents a batch of new-ish restaurants that are chef-owned, pint-sized, very neighborhood and ambitious all at once. This one belongs to Chris Bussell, a journeyman of a cook who’s worked at places like Icarus, Locke-Ober, and Hibernia. It’s an odd space located underneath an apartment building and without windows. But it’s nook-and-cranny romantic and has a low-lit vibe that’s quite flattering to the tweedy Harvard Square crowd. Food-wise, Bussell’s capabilities are wide-ranging and sometimes exuberant. He likes to dabble in the globetrotting thing, but does best with rustic Pan-Med flavors. Witness pancetta, potatoes and Fontina, cobbled together in a tartlet whose crust is world-class, producing killer Italian alpine food. Salads, like one of shaved fennel, haricots verts, and radish with a puckery lemon vinaigrette, have Berkeley sprightliness. But---and this is a Young American Chef problem---some dishes are shot through with unbalanced sweetness. Grilled opah is flanked with earthy-sweet rice cakes, acid-sweet tropical fruit, and lush-sweet chili mango beurre blanc---a little much and a little nouveau. Braised short ribs agrodolce are missing the sour to complement the sweet. Alas, pan-seared scallops are simple and very good with nothing but brown butter, root veggies and a celery root mash. We support the young and ambitious, so long as they keep learning and, in this case, lower the prices a little.


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