TOWNIE TOUR OF NEW CAMBRIDGE STREET RESTAURANTS

Kristina Kehrer's picture

THE RISING, Sports Bar and Lounge -1172 Cambridge St. – January 2016

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection that took place during Easter week, 1916 in Dublin, Ireland. The rebellion was an effort to end British rule and establish an Irish Republic. That particular battle was lost, but became the impetuous for change and independence that marched down a much bloodier road leading to a Free Irish State in 1922. The new Irish pub in the neighborhood, THE RISING, is named for that courageous spark that lit the fires of autonomy.

Now let’s get to the shallower side of life and living.

EXTERNAL FAÇADE:

  1. NAME DISPLAY: Marvelous! I love what they have done to the place. The signage and awning are bright, brilliant, and blue and the descriptive words “tavern and “bar” identify and invite. The external facade blends in quite appropriately with the neighborhood, but also stands out as something new and exciting without the stench of “trendy.”
  2. WELCOMING? Extremely. There is something familiar about the place that harkens back to a yesteryear.

IMMEDIATE ATMOSPHERE:

  1. DIN: We at the Townie Tour arrive to these restaurants at the “dinner hour” versus the “drinking hour,” so our perspective is within that time frame. We arrived around 6 p.m., and the din was delightful and pleasant. We were able to have a conversation in which all words were heard without shouting. It was so suitable that it became a topic of discussion.
  2. LIGHTING: THE RISING has successfully integrated indoor and outdoor lighting. The front of the house has several paned windows that accentuate the feel of being in a living room. The indoor lighting is warm and soft without being dim and shadowy or that hipster level that requires a small flashlight to read menus. What really catches your eye is an extremely large, round, brown metal chandelier that looks like something from the Middle Ages. It is one of the features that create a sense of across the pond décor.
  3. MUSIC: The music was very much in the background. My ears went searching for it, and what I think I heard was a radio coming from the kitchen area. Soft music playing in the background was not a minus; it was more of a plus.
  4. GENERAL LAYOUT AND DÉCOR: Poor old Hit Wicket (the previous sports bar in this location), I can only imagine that THE RISING is everything the Hit Wicket wanted to be and failed. In the saddest irony of all, there was a Cricket game (hit wicket is a Cricket term) airing on one of the six televisions mounted unassumingly on wall, the night of our reviewing.

I often describe walking into The Druid, the other Irish pub in our neighborhood, like walking into the womb. Now we have the opposite. What is the opposite of the womb, a man cave? Not sure, but at THE RISING I get the sense of cognac and cigars, which may not seem appealing to clean living types, but don’t fret, cognac and cigars are only in sense and not reality. It may also just be the color palette, which if I remember correctly were browns and blues done tastefully in a very male classy, yet casual way.

The main room is open, but there is a smaller, more intimate room tucked off to the side. There are several seating options; some small tables in front of the paned windows – lovely and quaint, a long deep bar, high tables with stools, and red booths were we sat in great comfort. While seated in a booth, a wall of paned windows separates the dining room from the kitchen, which lets you watch the chef as he cooks.

  1. NEIGHBORHOOD ATMOSPHERE? This place has the potential to be a great neighborhood pub. We would love for it to be frequented by a diverse range of people like the old days of the Druid and the Plough & Stars on Mass Ave. I think it is still too early to tell, but fingers crossed.
  2. A SENSE OF COMFORT WITH OTHER PATRONS? It wasn’t crowded while we were there, but we felt extremely comfortable at THE RISING, and would probably feel that way no matter who was in attendance.

STAFF GREETING: We received a very manly greeting from our young Australian waiter.

PROMPTNESS OF WAITSTAFF: Prompt indeed.

DID WE FEEL ASSESSED AS LOW INCOME? No.

MENU:

  1. MENU COMPREHENSION: Not since the Korean joint, Kimchi Kitchen, have we so thoroughly understood a menu. Go figure!

The really refreshing aspect was the variety of choices. Granted it is “pub food,” but the menu is obviously just as important to THE RISING as sports, drinking, and merriment.

The dinner menu has something for everyone from wings to a full chicken dinner. The chicken comes from Mayflower Poultry located on Cambridge Street in East Cambridge. If you would like to get wild and crazy, how about some Poutine, or if you’d prefer to stay calm and regional, stick with the Clam Chowder. One option is a vegetarian taster meal created from the good old fashion side dishes, including mashed potatoes, which cost five dollars each.

  1. HOW FAR WOULD TWENTY DOLLARS STRETCH? Very, very far! The most expensive entrée is a steak dinner costing just over twenty dollars. For the first time on our tour, we were able to stay within our twenty-dollar budget, while eating a full plate of food and drinking Guinness.

HOW LONG OF A WAIT FOR FOOD? Quick.

HOW WAS THE FOOD? Firstly, I was overjoyed to see mixed greens on the menu. Salad is underrated. It is a comfort food that needs no reinventing. It is the grounding force of a meal. So, of course I ordered it. For a side salad the portion was large, but unfortunately, way too salty for my liking. The Globe did a review of THE RISING and had the same issue. I predict that will be worked out in time.

As an entrée I ordered the veggie burger. Now why, with all the other amazing options on the menu, would I order something as boring as a veggie burger? It is beyond me, but I am pretty sure it was a decision based on a Ciabatta roll, which said burger is served on; favorite bread - can’t turn it down. It was fine, but it was a veggie burger. Next time, I go for the pork chops. Interestingly, the Globe also ordered a veggie burger, so we at the Townie Tour are in good company.

My partner had the grilled chicken sandwich, which just goes to show how adventurous we are! For her the sandwich was “good,” but it was the shoestring fries that were “great.” They had some sort of herb-of-delight on them, which we guessed was chive, but who knows - just yummy.

In the spirit of Ireland my partner ordered a Guinness, which she said was “awesome.” We both stayed at or right under our twenty-dollar budget before tip.

Even though we are smitten with, and have high hopes for THE RISING, The Druid remains my favorite place in Inman Square for dining.

OVERALL REVIEW OF RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE: We both gave it a (4).

On a scale of 1 – 5, (1) being low, (5) being high