It seems like forever since I have done a restaurant review on the blog! I am happy to report that I have a few coming up, including today’s post. Going forward, I am going to attempt to write more concisely about the restaurants we visit so they are quicker to produce and for you to read. As always, I am going to write frankly about our experiences. On another note, I would love to hear if you know of smaller restaurants that I should try to “scout”. I feel like sometimes the smaller places get overlooked by all the “lists” that get published and would like to support them both with the blog and my patronage. Please let me know in the comments!
I have been trying to get to two year old Branch Line in Watertown forever and finally had my opportunity last week with my cousin, Joyce. We were debating between newly opened Les Sablons in Cambridge or Branch Line with the latter winning the culinary battle. Joyce had been to Branch Line on at least one occasion and I had heard from another source that the restaurant’s rotisserie cauliflower was amazing so I was eager to check it out. Either way, we were going with a Garrett Hawker concept it seemed.
Garrett Hawker is the man behind notable hotspots, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar that I reviewed here on the blog, Row 34 and The Hawthorne. Located in the Arsenal complex in Watertown, Massachusetts, Branch Line is named for the former Green Line’s A Branch that made the town accessible by the MBTA. Outdoor seating and a bocce court are available year round…
The inside of the restaurant is industrial chic with lofted ceilings and a generously sized bar that serves only beer and wine. Both lists are quite extensive and more than satisfy. We were early for our reservation, so we sat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine to start. They were pouring five roses by the glass and I chose one from Corsica. Joyce ordered a Pigato (white) from Liguria. Both were lovely and the bartender was more than happy to pour some samples before we made our selections…
As you can see, there is ample seating for small or larger parties. The kitchen is open in the back and what you cannot see is the restaurant’s rotisserie, upon which much of the menu is based. Not all the dishes are cooked in the rotisserie, but several are and the rotisserie drippings are used in other dishes, and even served alongside your Iggy’s bread should you care to indulge. Dishes are also influenced by the cultures surrounding the Watertown area that largely has roots in Armenia, Greece and other middle eastern countries…
The menu is divided into small plates ranging from $3-5 and include warm olives, lamb & pork meatballs and fried chickpeas. Starters range in price from $11-16 and include salads, soups, chicken liver toasts, mussels and our two selections.
First up was a marinated lamb skewer that was grilled and served with a grilled cucumber tzatziki sauce and whole wheat pita. For a couple of Armenian girls, this completely hit the spot. The lamb was perfectly cooked and combined with the cold, tangy sauce and the crispy pita, it was completely delicious…
Next up was a Pan-Fried Chickpea Cake that was served with Fresno peppers and a garlic yogurt. All I can say is we wish we hadn’t left the restaurant without this recipe because it was a fantastic dish. I think any vegetarian would be more than happy to order this as an entree as well. The cake was crispy on the outside with a softer interior. The garlicky yogurt and slight heat from the peppers made this dish really stand out among everything we ordered…
Rotisserie chicken appears to be a menu category unto itself. You can order a whole bird ($38) or half ($19).
Plates and Sides round out the offerings. Sadly, the rotisserie cauliflower has been taken off the menu and according to our server there have been some rumblings about this decision! In it’s place, Branch Line offers a smoked Eggplant dish that is served with braised chickpeas. Other plates include Rotisserie Prime Rib (that looked delicious when I was walking by the rotisserie), Rib-Eye steak for 2, Grilled Branzino served with a green harissa sauce, Potato Gnocchi served with a Beef Ragu and our selections.
I was leaning towards the Branzino because I love it and thought the preparation sounded delicious. But, I was intrigued by a Pork Blade Steak served with a smoked date sauce and dandelion greens as well. Our server, whose knowledge of the menu was excellent, thought the pork was the restaurant’s most underrated dish so with that, it’s what I ordered. Four perfectly cooked pieces of pork were served over the sweet sauce and topped with the very bitter greens. Did I love it? I wouldn’t say I loved it, but it was quite nice and different which is what I enjoy about eating in restaurants. I did wish I had ordered the Branzino…
Joyce ordered the Grilled Maine Salmon that was to be served with fiddleheads, lemon creamed leeks and potato. Sadly, there wasn’t any advance notice that the fiddleheads were not available and that green beans were being substituted. Joyce mentioned to a server that she had ordered the dish largely for the fiddleheads so it was a disappointment, but delicious nonetheless. Almost immediately after, we heard the server at the next table mention to his guests that fiddleheads were not available so we are not sure where the communication broke down…
Service is paramount for Hawker restaurants, however and our server was quick to offer Joyce any side dish on the house which she declined because we had more than enough food between us! Side dishes include grilled asparagus, fried or rotisserie potatoes, arugula salad, broccolini, peas & Berkshire bacon and grilled mushrooms ($7-9).
We passed on dessert as we were more than satisfied. As I mentioned, service was excellent and overall we had a great experience. I would very happily return and would love to try their lunch or brunch menu sometime.
They also offer a takeout menu for 2 people for $32 consisting of an arugula & parmesan salad, whole rotisserie chicken and lemon pound cake.
Branch Line will host a five-course meal with wine pairings based on the cuisine of Liguria on July 10th as well if you are interested.
Branch Line is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. I hope you find some time to check it out!
See you next week.
Two Years Ago: The Pink Holiday (watermelon juice, vodka, lime and mint)
Three Years Ago: Review of Salt Kitchen & Rum Bar in Ipswich, Massachusetts
See you next week!
I love Branch Line. The roasted potatoes and the salad with snap peas and radish are terrific as well. I thought the wine list was reasonable too. Looking forward to trying the lamb!!
Thanks, Marta! I will definitely try that salad the next time I go!