The exterior of Country Mile on Belmont Street in Watertown is nondescript. Like us, you may drive right by it unaware. Had I paid closer attention ahead of driving there, I might have realized it’s nestled into a section of the street I have visited since I was a little girl. Eastern Lamejun, the Armenian market of choice for my family is a stone’s throw away.
Four of us ventured just far enough from home for a lovely mid-week dinner last Tuesday. I say far enough because if you’re like me, a mid week jaunt into the big city or even to Cambridge can seem too much to ask when it’s chilly outside. But it’s nice to get “almost there” which is how I would describe Country Mile. A new restaurant, opened just before Thanksgiving last year, that is trying to find its way and holding its own I might add.
Walking into this 38 seat restaurant, you are greeted by a generously sized bar where you are welcome to sit at one of its 13 stools and wait for a table. There are only 8 or 9 of those, but not to fear you will be well taken care of at said bar and can try one of Country Mile’s very tempting cocktails, a beer, cider or a lovely glass of wine. The offerings are carefully curated and tastings were provided to help us narrow down our selection, wine in this case, from the natural and organic varieties carried including several orange rose. Country Mile does not take reservations, but it is suggested you call on your way to see how long the wait might be. Our wait was 15 minutes, maybe 20 but we were very happy chatting and taking in our surroundings.
Country Mile is owned by husband and wife team, Matt and Nancy Sargent. This article provides the backstory to how this former builder and agriculturalist/gardener team transitioned to the food and restaurant industry. The short story is while living in Waitsfield, Vermont, the couple started a series called Phantom Dinners, hosting private dinners in all sorts of interesting locations. This transitioned to a food truck and ultimately, bricks and mortar with a restaurant aptly named, Phantom. The restaurant struggled with the seasonality of the Vermont location so the couple accepted an offer from a Massachusetts based restaurateur to help open Waltham based, Brewer’s Tap and Table. That relationship ended when the Sargents decided they wanted to open a space of their own. Country Mile was opened with years of savings and the support of 2 investors from Porter Square Wine and Spirits.
What I love about this restaurant opening is that there wasn’t a big splash, just two people who appear to love what they are doing, together, and wanting to share that with anyone who walks in the door. We felt completely welcome in the space and spent more hours than I ever thought we would on a chilly Tuesday evening. Was every dish a home run? No, but you couldn’t tell by what remained as we consumed almost every bite. Service was very good and we were delighted that they poured half-glasses of wine! The vibe was very relaxed and homey which was fantastic.
My hope is that they thrive and succeed and I am eager to go back to this “almost in the city” restaurant sometime soon. Hopefully you will give them a try and support this small business in the process!
The menu changes weekly so you may not have the same options as we did. Dishes are globally inspired so you can expect a broad range of ingredients. We approached the menu as a sharing opportunity as the plates are on the small side, but you could absolutely order your own dish if you choose. The menu is divided into two sections. The first is vegetable centric with options ranging from Yams & Caramelized Green Garlic with pistachios, mesclun and lemon dressing to Snap Peas & Marble Potatoes with freekeh, green olives, green apple and tahini.
Here are the dishes we ordered from the first section of the menu.
Vegetable Fritters are always available, made with whatever vegetable is available locally. At our visit, the fritters were made with a mix of black trumpet, royal trumpet and maitake mushrooms and served on a black eyed pea puree. We ate every last one of these perfectly fried, ungreasy morsels. However, as with much fried food we did not think they were mushroom forward enough and wished there had been more sauce for dipping…
The picture here doesn’t do justice to this dish, a wonderfully crispy pan-fried polenta cake served with more of those beautiful mushrooms and a delicious black garlic sauce. We thought this was very good…
Roasted Cauliflower was served with greens, bbq sauce, smoked onion and an edamame cream. This was by far our favorite of the vegetarian options. There was a lot going on with the dish but everything worked really well together with the sweet bbq sauce complementing the more savory elements. Loved this…
Chef was experimenting with some vegan dishes and this was a homemade pasta served with more mushrooms, broccoli rabe and a tomato cashew cream that you would never know wasn’t made with dairy. It has inspired me to give cashew cream sauce a try! Our only criticism here was that is was a little under seasoned but otherwise quite nice…
That is the end of the mushroom parade! In fairness, you may approach dining here differently by ordering your own plates so don’t fear that you will have mushroom overload for that reason, and the fact that the menu will be different if you dine here as they try to incorporate produce that is seasonally appropriate.
The second section of the menu is based on proteins and dishes are placed in ascending order according to size. You could enjoy a plate of Coppa & Speck served with an aged gruyere, black figs and maple syrup, feast on Grilled Chicken with sauteed green garlic, and served with a cherry and black fig agradolce, or enjoy a Berkshire Pork Schnitzel with a pear and radicchio slaw and a lemon vinaigrette.
Here are the 3 dishes we ordered from this section of the menu.
Udon Noodles with Beef Shortrib, roast carrot, pickled cukes and shitake broth. This was very tasty, although a little difficult to share given its brothy nature. The pickled cukes provided a necessary punch of acid to brighten things up…
Manila clams were served with applewood bacon, Maine potatoes and preserved lemon. We actually ordered 3 bowls of these, they were that good. Perfectly cooked clams, smoky bacon and a little brightness from the lemon. Summer in a dish perhaps?
And finally, Black Bass with baby bok choy, Chinese long beans and dashi. Beautiful dish in its execution and flavor…
We were full!
Dinner plates are small because the menu is ideal for sharing so there were many dirty plates and that was a little challenging at times. I also felt that in hindsight, we should have ordered a little differently on the protein side of the menu as the dishes we chose, the udon noodles and the bass had similar flavor profiles. It may have been more balanced to have ordered the schnitzel or the chicken.
The restaurant is searching for a pastry chef so our dessert option was a most delicious plate of chocolate bark that was served with grapes and cheese. We were not disappointed.
I hope you give Country Mile a try. Maybe I will see you there!
Until next time…
Two Years Ago: Slow Cooker Chicken Marbella
Three Years Ago: Carrot Pineapple Cake
Four Years Ago: Blackened Fish Tacos
Five Years Ago: Summer Vegetable Ceviche
Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the tip and review.