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Shanghai Fresh and State Street Provisions: Reviewed

Local reviewers visited a new spot in Central Square and the Grafton Group's Waterfront restaurant

State Street Provisions
State Street Provisions

This week, The Boston Globe's Catherine Smart paid a visit to Shanghai Fresh in Central Square, where she found the restaurant had "hit a Cambridge sweet spot," serving authentic Shanghai cuisine. Smart recommended starting with cold appetizers, including the wild veggie and bean curd and the sweet and sour baby ribs. On the warm side, Smart said the Sichuan-style fried chicken was "a heaping plate of pleasure," juicy, crisp, and inviting. The soup dumplings, known as Shanghai pork buns, "satisfy with rich, porky flavor and a lip-smacking, full-bodied broth," and the treasure rice cakes were "a fun departure from the typical textures of Western cuisine." Smart said the service was "nothing to write home about," but the food overall delivered "subtle, satisfying flavors of Shanghai cuisine."

The Globe's Sacha Pfeiffer visited State Street Provisions, where she witnessed a fistfight and pondered, "When is a bar just a bar, and when can it legitimately also be called a restaurant?" State Street, she said, "is beautifully designed," and has a handsome bar and charming pantry. Pfeiffer said the restaurant was loud, and "we had some OK food here," highlighting the bread basket of Parker House rolls and a nice asparagus salad where the spears were grilled and served with farro, pine nuts, and a sunny-side-up egg. Pfeiffer said the salt cod fritters were "a masterpiece of frying," crunchy outside and light inside and the burger was decent — flavorful but dry. The house-made sausage she found "oddly sour," and the "roast chicken was bland." Of the desserts, she recommended the sorbet and the cream cheese flan. Overall, Pfeiffer said, "it's succeeding as a bar — drunks aside, we enjoyed the beer, wine, and cocktails — but stumbling as a restaurant."

State Street Provisions

255 State St., Boston, MA 02109

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