18 months. That’s about how long it took before my husband and I went out on our very first date since our baby arrived. Eighteen months! And in celebration of our 5th anniversary, we wanted to make our first date night special. Since it was also the very first time we were leaving her in someone else’s care (gasp! that’s a whole other topic for another day!), we didn’t want to venture off too far from home into oh, say like Boston. The answer: Spoke Wine Bar in Davis Square, Somerville.
Spoke is perfect for a special date and it’s like having a little bit of the Boston dining scene without having to deal with the stress of venturing into the big city: no need to fight for parking, and no need to deal with the traffic for things like a ball game or lost tourists. But what you do get are a fine tuned wine and beer list, delicately prepared dishes that are equally beautiful as they are delicious, and a fun dining atmosphere enough to make you feel like you’re not in a suburb.
The dishes are designed to be shared “small plates” style so we ordered a couple of them along with some of the “snacks” on the right side of the menu. We started with the whipped goat milk ricotta spread served with flatbread ($4). The ricotta was so airy, pillowy soft and had a really nice light goat milk flavor to it (nothing overpowering). We needed more bread to finish the dollop on our plate which our awesome waitress, Cali, provided upon request. This came around the same time as the Jonah crab crostini ($5), which have been declared as my new favorite food item! These were so delicious that we ordered another plate after we ate everything else so that we could enjoy them again. (Could I make a whole meal out of oh say 4 or 5 orders of this one particular item? … um, yes!)
We also ordered the spaghetti al nero ($21) which is spaghetti made with squid ink (so the noodles are black), native shellfish (including clams, mussels and crab), green garlic and served in a saffron butter sauce. It was rich and full of flavor. The juices were nicely sopped up with the extra bread, by the way.
We also tried the striped bass crudo ($14) which was served with asparagus, hazelnuts and in an orange conserva sauce. It was refreshing and rich even though it was a light dish, in a good way. The asparagus was served quite creatively: I think they sliced the asparagus stalks almost like they’re peeling it, then take the remaining inner portion of the stem and cut them into small cubes so that it’s served two ways on the dish.
Oh and of course, the wines! We both enjoyed a glass of the 2002 Chateau Tour Grise Saumur Brut (Chenin Blanc, $13) before the dinner plates arrived. It’s a sparkly one that is very refreshing and not overly sweet. In fact it was so good, I had a second glass during dinner (and now am in search of how I can get my hands on a bottle of it for home – hee hee). My husband thoroughly enjoyed a glass of the 2009 Farnetella Colli Senesi (Sangiovese, $10) red wine. Italian wines always seem to be smoother and butterier than wines from say California, in our humble opinion.
Cali brought us these two little squares of goat cheese brownies to try as we paid the bill. I could be remembering that incorrectly … she may have said goat’s milk brownies … either way, they were super yummy and the touch of sea salt on top was extra nice on the taste buds.
Needless to say it was a delicious way to celebrate two big events in our lives, and a great way to support a locally owned business at the same time. We felt like weirdos being there so early (shortly after the doors opened at 5:30!), but they also don’t take reservations and fill up pretty quickly so I wanted to be sure we could get a seat. The place was packed by the time we left around 7:00 and there was a short wait outside the door (it was a Thursday night). Would definitely suggest it for a small group outing, a romantic night out, and again for that night when you just don’t feel like going into the big city.
Also wanted to put in a word about how accommodating they were with my food allergies. Thanks to Cali, the kitchen was careful about avoiding the cracked red pepper in a couple of our dishes.
And if you’re not a wine or beer drinker, Spoke has a full bar and can create cocktails upon request. The bar manager, Paul, was the former bartender at Gargoyles before their doors closed so you know you’re in good hands. 🙂
Spoke Wine Bar
89 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144