My boyfriend, Doug, and I are not a touchy feel-y couple. We aren’t the guy and girl sitting at the bar making googly eyes at each other and holding hands. So when we were led to our “table” at CasaB restaurant in Union Square in Somerville, and the hostess directed us to a special high booth chair for two at the bar area downstairs, I won’t lie that I was a bit horrified at the closeness we’d be experiencing over the course of our entire meal.
But to be honest, I think we had the best seats in the house! We looked directly into the kitchen area, where the evening’s two chefs displayed their culinary expertise creating one dish after another in complete unison. To say I was absolutely, positively impressed at the spectacle before me is an understatement.
CasaB offers small plates and tapas, and its menu features a diverse array of dishes: Hot or cold, light or heavy, simple or complex. Per usual, we decided to order a bunch of different dishes so we could try a range of options to get a real feel for the place. We started with the tabla de dips (an assortment of dips, including olive tapenade, artichoke, pigeon peas, and yuca root vegetable chips) and the rollitos de aguacate (crispy avocado rolls with prune and cilantro dipping sauce). We then moved on to the carne mechada y gnocchi de yuca (Puerto Rican pot roast and yucca gnocchi sautéed in sage brown butter sauce); choripan (chorizo and guava wrapped in puff pastry); and atun salteado con ajonjoli (sesame seared sushi-grade tuna served on sweet plantain and wasabi aioli).
I’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants, and I’ve loved a lot of the dishes I’ve had at said restaurants–but I can say (without any hesitation) that this was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The dips were flavorful and the yuca root vegetable chips were the perfect dipping accompaniment. The avocado rolls were perfectly crisp and the prune sauce gave it this extra sweetness that brought the entire dish to an entirely different (and unexpected) level. The pot roast–one of the dishes they’re best-known for–was rich and comforting and I wish I could order it for delivery on cold, winter nights. The chorizo and guava puffed pastry was a mix of spicy and sweet and heaven all in one. And the tuna was the best thing I ate of all. It was seared to perfection and whatever they did to create that wasabi aioli was basically magic. They need to bottle it up and sell it.
I know I’ve said in the past that I’m unable to turn down dessert, but in this case, I actually did. I was so stuffed from the amazing meal I encountered that I was unable to even take a glance at the dessert menu.
With so many restaurants I still want to visit, I try my best not to go back to places I’ve already been (crazy, I know). This will be one of my exceptions. I plan to return to CasaB as soon as I cross a few more restaurants off of my list. And although I shuddered at the thought of sharing a seat with Doug during our first visit, I would happily return to our spot at the bar overlooking the chefs’ work upon our next stop there!