Restaurant Review: West Bridge in Cambridge
The disappointment is greatest in the “large” (or main) courses, which were mostly puzzling failures. Squares of beautiful, simply seared snow-white halibut ($27) were finished in a hot oven till they were unpleasantly dry, and paired with a vinaigrette of chorizo in minuscule dice and oddly sweet slices of nectarine steeped in syrup with bergamot. Tough veal chops ($29) were served with a side of Swiss chard in a too-sweet sauce of candied orange zest. Duck breast ($26) with grilled doughnut peaches was sliced so thick as to be nearly impossible to cut. Though, like every large dish, the duck was strangely sweet, it was by far the best-flavored protein. And then there were the giant-size (and -priced) “to share” dishes, which had better technique than flavor. The tastiest of them was roast lamb shoulder ($45), as expertly cooked as any lamb I can remember, with a firm yet tender texture and a marvelous seared crust.
There is a strategy to sampling the best of Gaudet: stick with salads, small plates, and a dessert or two. Local lettuces ($7) in interesting lemony abundance came with a bit of toasted brioche and a zesty honey-thyme lemon vinaigrette that could easily become a new favorite—if it had significantly less salt. Rather than the typical goat-cheese accompaniment, roasted multicolored beets ($10) appeared instead with blanched broccolini, fennel cream, and a warm, savory mixture of dark-toasted bread crumbs with lemon zest, garlic, and anchovies. More toasted bread, this time thin buttered slices of Iggy’s francese, anchored another very well-conceived small dish: radish toast ($7), draped with translucent slices of lardo and served with pickled Japanese mushrooms. It was an elegant tapa.