First Bite at Abigail’s

It may not be a destination yet, but this new Kendall Square haunt is turning out some very smart — and tasty — fare. 

first bite

Photo by Scott M. Lacey

Thanks to nearby MIT, Kendall has long been dominated by its tech scene. But given the number of restaurants that have popped up there lately (Meadhall, Area Four, Firebrand Saints, Catalyst), recognition can’t be far behind for its burgeoning culinary one. Abigail’s, which showcases the talents of chef and co-owner James Ludwig (a B-Side Lounge and East Coast Grill vet) and chef de cuisine Jason Lord (another East Coast Grill alum), joins the list of promising newbies. Save for the neighboring luxury apartment complex, the sophisticated yet funky eatery is a bright departure from the mostly industrial area surrounding it. And the casual, eclectic menu — which features a raw bar, small plates, sandwiches, and entrées — is just what Kendall (and every neighborhood, really) needs.

Ludwig and Lord’s creativity and attention to detail are apparent in plates like the crudo of the day (market price) — when I visited, tuna tossed with sweet mango and creamy avocado on a bed of fried plaintain cakes. Yet their affinity for straight-up comfort food also shines through in offerings such as the Gouda fries ($9, pictured), an addictive poutine-like concoction dressed up with lots of smoky bacon. The über-tender Kansas City–style barbecue pork sandwich ($10), meanwhile, pays homage to the duo’s East Coast Grill background.

Main dishes, though not always perfect, were satisfying. A juicy, fatty grass-fed boneless rib-eye topped with marrow butter and served with French fries ($26) was wonderfully beefy, though the green-peppercorn demi-glace advertised on the menu seemed absent from the plate altogether. The moist bone-in pork chop ($19) was a bit bland, but found redemption in the accompanying honey-roasted grapes and black-pepper dumplings, which imparted sweetness and spice.

As for those much-anticipated boozy slushies ($9–$10)? Sadly, a bit of a letdown. What I expected was an artisanal blender drink; what I got was a well-executed cocktail with lots and lots of crushed ice. But with food this solid, Abigail’s won’t need hype to get Kendall denizens through the door.

291 Third St., Cambridge, 617-945-9086, www.abigailskendall.com.   

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