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The Week In Reviews: Centre Street Cafe, La Brasa, and Meju

Here's what the critics are saying this week.

Centre Street Cafe
Centre Street Cafe
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Jamaica Plain's new Italian eatery, Centre Street Cafe, earned two-and-a-half out of a possible four stars from the Boston Globe's food critic Devra First this week.

"...[T]he restaurant is one of the neighborhood’s best," she writes in the February 24 review. "This is because, foremost, the food is often delicious, and getting more so as the kitchen finds its feet."

The team behind Tres Gatos brought the new concept to Centre Street Cafe, which First notes was formerly "one colorful square in Jamaica Plain’s patchwork of restaurants" as a popular brunch spot. (The new incarnation still does weekend brunch, she notes.) The community was missing an Italian place, though: "It was as if it were too easy," First writes.

Executive Chef Brian Rae (Rialto) and Sous Chef Stephen Marcaurelle (Clio) are finding new avenues to explore in the familiar territory of Italian cuisine, focusing the limited menu on local, carefully prepared ingredients. "Pasta is a highlight," First says. "The simplest dish may be the best: handmade linguine, chewy yet tender, tossed with littleneck clams and flavored with green olives, lemon, and good olive oil." The critic has seen the most unevenness in the main courses, she writes.

Desserts, which come from pastry chef Allyson West (Tres Gatos, Sofra), are a consistent highlight of Center Street Cafe, as is its service, according to First.

Metro visited La Brasa in Somerville this week. The February 25 piece focuses more on the drink menu and aesthetics of the East Somerville market and restaurant without delving too deeply into the wood-fired menu by chefs Daniel Bojorquez and Frank McClelland of L'Espalier. Metro contributor Luke O'Neil says La Brasa "is the upmarket reinvention of the melting pot South and Central American East Broadway neighborhood it has taken root in. That shows up on the menu in dishes like the slow roasted pork shoulder carnitas with salsa verde and chile de arbol."

For O'Neil, the standout cocktail is My Sherry Amour, a drink featuring mezcal, amontillado sherry, honey, grapefruit, and Cherry Heering. "It's full flavored, but has that mezcal heat and dryness from the sherry that marries very well," bartender Rob Hoover tells the reviewer about the drink.

Inside, the restaurant is "industrial wood-working studio chic," O'Neil writes, and says its vibe fits well into the Somerville-is-the-next-Brooklyn narrative.

The Improper Bostonian's Elizabeth Bomze recently took in an enjoyable meal at Meju, the Davis Square venture from the Kim family behind Bibim in Allston.

In addition to the hip vibe, Bomze mentions excellent house-made kimchi. She also recommends the pajeon: "The kitchen nails this crispy fried pancake ... that’s lacy on the exterior but retains just enough glutinous chew within. They serve it ripping hot," she writes.

La Brasa

124 Broadway, , MA 02145 (617) 764-1412 Visit Website

Centre Street Cafe

669 Centre St, #A, Boston, MA 02130 (617) 524-9217 Visit Website

Meju

243 Elm Street, Somerville, Ma 02144 (978) 852-7901 Visit Website

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