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Will Gilson Offers a Glimpse of Puritan & Co.

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Photo: Will Gilson's Puritan & Co. preview dinner, at The Herb Lyceum/Aaron Kagan

212_2007_09_efp.jpgLast night chef Will Gilson previewed the menu for his upcoming Inman Square restaurant Puritan & Co., providing a glimpse as to what diners can expect when the hotly anticipated venue opens later this fall. And apparently one thing to expect is a lamb chop wrapped in lamb sausage, served like a meat-on-meat lollipop. None of the dishes previewed last night are guaranteed for the final menu, but the evening was highly suggestive as to how Gilson plans to pair rootsy New England cuisine with the occasional Mediterranean or Asian flourish. The event took place at The Herb Lyceum, the Groton farm owned by Gilson's family, which also serves family-style dinners at the communal table pictured above. The setting was no coincidence: Gilson's served his first professional meals at that table, and there will be a similar table for communal dining at Puritan & Co., plus produce from the farm.

When asked if Puritan & Co. would tend towards modern or rustic, one of Gilson's staff answered "rustic," though the restaurant will have a foot in both worlds, as it plans to bake its own hardtack, the tough biscuit of yesteryear that sustained sailors on lengthy sea voyages, and also make use of sous vide. General manager Chris Yuarte was on hand, as was assistant GM Josh Cole, Mike Sheehan, Gilson's sous chef, and baker and pastry chef Mike Geldart.

The seating breakdown: 100 to 110 total, with 15 at the bar, 8 at a charcuterie and oyster bar and 16 at the communal table. Puritan & Co. will open with a beer and wine license only, so no spirits, at least for now, and Gilson is hoping to introduce Sunday brunch at some point, which might be served family-style. He hopes to open in five weeks, which would be sometime in late October, and Puritan & Co. plans to stay open until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends, with entrees priced around or under $30.

Radishes with greens still attached were served with whipped butter and in-house pumpernickel "soil" and a touch of oxalis, a wild sorrel. Gilson's riff on stuffies (stuffed quahogs) resembled a more delicately textured croquette, and were topped with fresh fennel fronds and flowers and variegated basil. Gilson noted that he hopes to grow some herbs in the restaurant itself and perhaps one day on the roof. Duck fat brioche toasts were vehicles for roasted bone marrow gratin topped with Mornaise sauce, and wines included two from the Loire valley, a Chenin Blanc and a Gamay, and a Pruno Tempranillo from Spain's "Golden Mile" region. Other dishes included:

Sides and Entrees:

· Gougeres.
· Baked scallops, which were really a take on scallop kayake, with Kewpie mayo, enoki, charred onion ash oil, baby turnips and a "veil" of vivid greens and herbs bound together with agar.
· Confit crisped lamb belly, on an eggplant puree and topped with two-pepper agrodolce with cider vinegar and honey. Also, a smear of bitter orange puree with saffron and Korean fermented pepper paste.
· Chicken soup, with roasted chicken, miso and dashi broth. Vegetables and pistou herbs change by season. At the preview, vegetables included carrots, turnips, Brussels sprouts and kale, while the pistou contained, among other things, carrot tops.
· Clam chowder, with pork belly confit and in-house oyster crackers.
· Cobia with spice oil, parsnip puree, sumac roasted grapes and brown butter.
· Cobia collars with soy sauce, miso, garam masala and smoked paprika. (Note: If these appear, they'll only appear as a limited special.)
· Sous vide chicken breast, slow roasted thigh and braised/confit chicken leg with charred onion puree, reduced jus, and corn, chanterelles and beech mushrooms.
· Lamb and merguez. The afore mentioned chop wrapped in sausage, with Tuscan kale.
· Hay roasted carrots with ash oil.

Dessert:

· Root vegetable cake. For the preview, it was parsnip, with cream cheese frosting, candied walnuts and black raisin sauce. Variations may include squash, beet, or carrot.
· Chocolate biscuit, with chocolate creme brulee, chocolate covered cocoa nibs and brown sugar semifreddo.

Not served last night but in the works: steak.

· All coverage of Puritan & Co. on Eater [~EBOS~]
· All Fall Tracking coverage on Eater [~EBOS~]

Disclosure: admission to this event was provided by the organizers.

Puritan & Co.

1164 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

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