First Bite: Foundry on Elm

Somerville’s latest addition is a hybrid hit. 

Photograph by Zack Bowen

Photograph by Zack Bowen

DAVIS SQUARE’S FOUNDRY ON ELM belongs to a new breed of restaurant best described as — if you’ll forgive the neologism — a “brastropub.” Part brasserie, part gastropub, it has the leather booths and checkerboard floor of the former and the craft beer/burger/roast chicken menu of the latter — a crossbreed à la Eastern Standard or Russell House Tavern.

It’s a winning formula, and Foundry on Elm is packed most nights with a mix of Tufts students, twentysomethings, and the odd local family. This being Davis, the scene is scruffier than Eastern Standard’s, but the room is lively. In fact, between the music and the crowd, it’s downright loud — one recent visit sparked a sore throat from just trying to converse over the din.

Foundry chef Sam Putnam came over from Ashmont Grill, another stellar neighborhood hangout, and he’s working the handcrafted angle with house-made pickles and charcuterie. Both are solid, and both change with the seasons. A starter of smoked salmon rillettes with pickled shallots was buttery and smoky, though served in too small a portion to top even the few toasts that came with it. A generous pile of mussels steamed in beer with bacon and thyme is a better choice.

Sandwiches are a strong point: The croque-monsieur is made with excellent Neuske’s ham, and the burger is well seasoned and juicy. Avoid the flatbreads, though. In successive tastings, one arrived much too greasy, another tough and dry. If it’s carbs you’re after, try the spaetzle entrée, also made with that great ham, plus mushrooms, hazelnuts, and Comte cheese. It could use more sauce, but the nutty-woodsy flavors are the definition of comfort food.

Andy Kilgore, formerly of No. 9 Park and Stoddard’s, is running the drink program. There are about 25 beers on tap, more than 20 brands in bottles, and some cask ales, too. Cocktails are smart and fun, as in the $5 ’80s classics served on Monday nights (recent libations included Harvey Wallbangers and Sex on the Beaches), or more sophisticated sips such as Sazeracs and Seelbachs.

Foundry’s owners promise a forthcoming music venue in the downstairs theater space, plus a cocktail lounge with a separate bar menu. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a slam-dunk for Somerville.

255 Elm St., Somerville, 617-628-9999, foundryonelm.com.

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