Don’t let the Cellar’s lusterless location and sorry wine program fool you. This Cantabrigian haunt serves exceptional, inexpensive farm-fresh fare. Snagging a prime-time table ain’t always that easy either, and especially now, since the young chef, Will Gilson, recently retooled his gastropubby menu. Tasty standbys from the popular old lineup—such as chicken-thyme croquettes and steak with rosemary-truffle fries—mingle on the menu (there’d be a riot if they didn’t) with sophisticated new dishes like seared foie gras, doughnuts, and rhubarb. A subtle touch of baharat elevates that dish from whimsical to cosmic truth—no joke…and, oh yeah, it’s 11 bucks. Gilson shows off more high-brow ideas on his small plate special, which changes daily, and his charcuterie is as well-crafted as what you’d find at Bar Boulud (the duck liver mousse and chicken-sweetbread terrine are remarkable). Other, more down-to-earth, additions include a beautifully executed Berkshire pork schnitzel and an arctic char with fava beans, Jerusalem artichoke rösti, and charmoula. One word of advice: Don’t save room for dessert; they don’t serve it (artisanal chocolates do come with the check). Not a bad thing though: You could always order more foie gras and doughnuts.

Garden at the Cellar 991 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA (617-230-5880;



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