Somerville’s Tasting Counter (14 Tyler St.) is primarily known for its acclaimed high-end tasting menus, which have been delighting diners since the restaurant opened in summer 2015 (and for a decade before that, when chef/owner Peter Ungár served similar meals but in private-dining format). For most, the restaurant falls into a special occasion price range, but Ungár and his team have gradually been adding opportunities for diners to visit on a more frequent, casual basis. First came weekend late-night bites, and those morphed into the weekend late-night Natural Wine Bar, featuring natural wines starting at $8 a glass and still offering the small bites, starting at $5.
Now, the wine bar has expanded to five nights a week — and it starts early on Tuesdays. Swing by between 5 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday for natural wines, a variety of bites, and visits from natural wine growers and local importers.
Tasting Counter’s commitment to natural wines stems from its “0 Carbon, 50 Local, 100 Natural” mission — and because there isn’t a definition of “natural” upon which everyone agrees, Tasting Counter has its own set of criteria, including that the wines come from independent producers with “low-yielding vineyards,” and the wines must be made from organic or biodynamic grapes that are sustainably hand-harvested. Plus, they don’t contain additives aside from “a scant amount of sulfur dioxide only if necessary at bottling,” and they are produced by wild yeast fermentation, without added yeast or sugar.
According to Ungár, there are some new menu items at the Natural Wine Bar as well. Be on the lookout for seaweed pasta, squab wings, charred mackerel, rhubarb clafoutis, and a rotating selection of pickled and fermented things.
• Tasting Counter Coverage on Eater [EBOS]