Mediterranean Tapas Arrive in Harvard Square Next Month
UPDATE, October 4:
A year and a half after 18-year-old Sandrine’s Bistro shuttered for good, a local restaurant group will open its first non-Irish pub concept in the Harvard Square space. En Boca, which spans the Mediterranean with its small plates and has wine on draft, is on target to debut Tuesday, October 4. (Update, October 4: En Boca will actually open to the public on Thursday, October 6.)
En Boca is the third venture by Classic Restaurant Concepts, which also owns the Asgard and the Kinsale. Devin Broo, formerly sous chef at Restaurant Daniel and executive sous chef at Bar Boulud, is at the helm in the kitchen.
There are traditional Spanish tapas plates, like blistered Padrón peppers, wood-grilled octopus, and house-marinated olives, and fresh takes like patatas bravas, confited in duck fat, then tempura-fried.
“It’s a unique texture compared to what you’d find at most places,” Broo says.
Stuffed baby squid is a classic dish that Broo can play with throughout the seasons. The first iteration has artichoke, pine nuts, tomato confit, olives, basil, and balsamic, and Swiss chard and chorizo is another stuffing he is working on.
“It’s nice to be able to pull from all area around the Mediterranean,” says Broo, whose wife is Albanian. “You’re able to order several different things, try a lot of different flavors.”
There are also shared plates, like wood-grilled bavette steak with bone marrow and salsa verde, and rustic, clay-roasted red fish from Casco Bay, Maine. Wrapped in fig leaves and seasoned with sumac and red pepper, “It’s really nice visually, but it also yields a nice product,” Broo says. “It keeps all the moisture in, and it’s very tender.”
Eventually, Broo would like to expand En Boca’s charcuterie program, but for now, he’s sourced a few cured hams from Spain, and there is a selection of cheese from Formaggio Kitchen. The back of the menu offers a glossary of terms for Harvard Square visitors who might be unfamiliar with Mediterranean small plates. En Boca also lists the farmers and producers responsible for the local ingredients, like Eva’s Garden in Dartmouth, Georges Bank Seafood, and Down Island Farm on Martha’s Vineyard.
The chef is excited about the concept, as well as the location. En Boca is a 132-seat restaurant in a standalone building, right next door to Harvard University’s Farkas Hall. There is a 17-seat bar, with 12 wines poured from an Enomatic wine preservation system. General manager and Level 3 sommelier Mark Grande compiled the list of affordable, old world wines. There are also six craft beers on draft, a range of bottle and an options, and half a dozen cider bottles. Bar manager Barry Barry is infusing spirits for original cocktails, like Galileo Figaro, with fig-infused bourbon and birch-infused sweet vermouth, and yarrow-infused mezcal for With Honors. There’s also a negroni served in an ice sphere, called Harvest Moon.
When En Boca opens early next month, it will serve dinner nightly beginning at 5 p.m. It will add weekday lunch and weekend brunch hours later this fall.
8 Holyoke St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 857-259-6321, enbocacambridge.com.
UPDATE, September 27: A previous version of this article indicated En Boca would open September 29, but a new press release from Classic Restaurant Concepts today says En Boca will actually open October 4. This post has been updated with the new date.