Branch Line Watertown MA

Went last night and everything was mostly spot on.

Excellent:
Fried Cheese Balls
Avocado
Snap Pea Salad with Marcona Almonds
1/2 Rotisserie chicken
Sweet cream ice cream with hazelnut crumble (beetlebug is correct, the ice cream is a vehicle for the hazelnut goodness)
$41 bottle of red Corsican wine. Yves L-something.
Service from the Harker team, similar to what you get at the Kenmore triumvirate.

Excellent with reservations
Lamb skewer - the lamb was delicious, marinated and cooked perfectly, but the skewer had just three small (1 inch x 1/2 inch) pieces of lamb with veggies, and was $14. Just not a good value IMO.

Very Good
Fried potatoes, I liked them more than my wife, but I would try the other potatoes next time.
Smoked mushrooms - excellent smoky flavor, but I would have preferred a mix of mushrooms, rather than all small button mushrooms. Would try the roasted carrots next time.

Needs a lot of work
The black bench that runs along the outside wall of the restaurant, moved each time anyone moved on it, which when you have 20 or so people sitting on it, was pretty much constantly. This bothered my wife immensely, and she would not sit there again unless it’s fixed.

Over all, we really enjoyed it, and since it’s a 5 minute drive from our Brighton home, I’m sure it will become one of our favorites. The bill was $135 plus tip.

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My SO and I made it to Branch Line for a holiday lunch. Thanks, kimfair, for the recs: we totally agree with your take on the cheese balls, salted avocado, pea salad, rotisserie chicken and the ice cream. Also had the tasty porchetta sandwich, with chucks of skin-on pork (rather than slabs you would get at market in Italy) on an excellent Iggy’s roll. And a fried brussel sprout special, very nice. The tap beer selection is impressive. I could only sample one but I’d like to return to try several more before they rotate out. We sat at one end of the long bench, and it didn’t budge, so it appears they’ve locked it down.

The service was spot on - very correct presentation of wine and beer, smooth teamwork in running dishes to the table. The space is pleasant, with isles wide enough for two, exposed brick, high ceilings, and abundant light - you can sense the lineage from Row 34. The room (but not the bar) was full at lunch time, and conversation was no problem. The playlist was interesting - all 1960’s for the duration of our two-hour lunch.

A welcome addition to the neighborhood, indeed.

Resurrection of another old thread!

We had dinner with some friends here last night. It was actually a re-do, as I’d had dinner with the other woman in the couple a few weeks back at Branch Line, but because we did not have a reservation that time, they were only able to give us an outside table if we promised we’d have it back in an hour! Despite snow on the ground and me having spent the morning in the ocean and feeling pretty cold-averse, we agreed, since we’d already struck out at La Bodega (closed) and Buttermilk and Bourbon (full), but the truth was we were frozen solid by the end and didn’t have a chance to fully appreciate our meal.

Anyways, the four of us returned, chose inside seats, and shared 2 orders of the lovely pea salad. It seems it’s evolved slightly since 2015, but is clearly still a favorite as many tables around us were enjoying it. It now features ricotta salata, mint, heavily toasted almonds, and a very lemony dressing. It’s my pinnacle of salad enjoyment, and I was tempted to add chicken and make it my main, but since everyone wanted to share that seemed risky. For mains, they graciously split the very good bavette steak with roasted mushrooms onto two plates which I shared with my friend. The gentlemen in the party had a half piri piri chicken which was excellent, and a pasta which I did not taste but which looked good and was promptly consumed. We shared garlic fries which are addictive.

There were some service glitches- seems typical at this point- two different servers introduced themselves and claimed our table, but neither returned to take our orders. We had to ask for dessert menus and for plates to be cleared after 30 minutes or so, and while some of us ordered coffee, only one ordered a dessert. The dessert was completely finished before anyone checked in to say they were brewing the coffee (I hate this- if I order coffee as my dessert, I want to sip it while depriving myself of dessert, not stare as someone else eats dessert with nothing in front of me). At that point, we’d been there for two hours and all had spring onions to attend to, so we cancelled the coffee and took the check. All staff were super friendly and nice, and clearly busy, but it did end the dinner on a not quite excellent note. Regardless, I’d go to Watertown and back on foot for that pea salad, and I expect the outside space will be lovely when it’s a bit warmer.

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this is a great review- I haven’t been there since 2019 but you make me want to return! What did your friend get for dessert?

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That is a truly wonderful endorsement!! And a very useful reminderof how good Branch Line is…

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Thanks for reading. He got the sweet cream ice cream with caramel and toasted nuts. This would be a good place for me to note that the menu is really very small. There was only ice cream or a brownie sundae with ice cream available for dessert. There were no specials for dinner, either, so definitely look at the menu and make sure there’s something that appeals. I think most of us appreciate a well-curated menu where there are fewer choices, but each done well, and this is the case at Branch Line.

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Branch Line has been one of our staples during the pandemic because of their outdoor space. We never miss the pea salad! The rotisserie chicken - either preparation- usually gets split 3 ways, and if we have room, the sweet cream ice cream gets shared too. The ice cream is stealthy good, with the caramel and nuts kicking it up a notch or two. They’ve scaled back the craft beer selections lately, but I wonder if that’s seasonal.

Arsenal is getting so many new options it’s hard to keep track.

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The caramel and nuts on the ice cream would taste good on shoe leather. The pea salad is phenomenal, and with added chicken makes an excellent meal.

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Ours, too – although to be honest, not a"staple", but an occasional – because they delivered piri-piri chicken with – and this was crucial – alcohol.

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Speaking of which, tried the new Mexican, Condesa for lunch last week. It wasn’t bad, but generic food, like a more upscale version of Margaritas. Good for an after work office thing, but I don’t think I’ll be back anytime soon.

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Thanks for the detailed report. Branchline was one of the first places B and I visited during the pandemic once restaurants opened up again. It felt weird and glorious to sit at the bar for a weekday lunch while spring onion was at school. And then we were disappointed. Somehow the service was just off and although the pea salad was as good as ever, some of the other food fell a little flat. I think I had the mushroom sandwich and not sure what B had. I didn’t want to post a negative review at the time. But those service lapses really stood out especially at a place like Branchline, where there is such a focus on hospitality. Sounds like they are still trying to find their footing but I’m glad they’re busy. I would be very sad to see that place close.

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We were also there on Sunday evening (six Asians ranging in age from 8 to 81 sitting inside at the round table nearest the front door), although we didn’t have any service issues. The piri piri chicken was nicely seasoned and juicy. They did have a lemon sorbet, in addition to the desserts you mentioned. I appreciated the new (to me) cocktail bar.

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I didn’t know about this, interesting. And welcome to Hungry Onion!!

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this made me smile! I love it!

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I should clarify: they now have a fully stocked bar at the end of the counter closest to the front (behind the host stand), also a cocktail menu (I’m not allowed to put a link, but it’s on their website), not a separate space for cruising for pick-ups or doing shots. They accommodated my requests for more primary spirit and less Campari (I find that a little goes a long way) for the Negroni and Blvd & Bond. They also now have their own bathrooms now off to that side, not in the back hallway to share with Panera.

Besides the piri piri chicken (the fries were a bit over but better than under), our family also enjoyed the trout, pork tenderloin, mussels, bavette steak (they do a great char on the outside, and they definitely listen when you say medium rare, maybe next time we should order just a bit more than medium rare but less than medium), and the Cobb salad (perhaps the dressing could have used a little more salt, but then the chicken was well-seasoned, so overall a reversal of the usual), plus the Iggy’s bread, which remains great for dipping.

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Oops, I misspoke, 8-80 (81 later this year). We’re one of those families that tends to eat early and brings books, instead of electronic devices, and our own takeout containers for leftovers when we end up ordering too much, usually unintentionally. We also had the classic sweet cream ice cream with caramel and hazelnuts, basically flawless, also the lemon sorbet (my daughter: “this is so much better than lemonade!!!”) for our desserts.

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I’m pretty sure I remember you from CH. Welcome!

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Had a roast chicken delivered from Branchline last week, with jus, mashed potatoes (their potatoes are a whipped, light version), and green asparagus. I don’t know where they source their chickens, but the meat was very flavorful and moist, although a little over-brined. Even better were the leftovers the next day, along with some fat white asparagus we’d scored and some morels sauteed in butter.

On the one hand, at $40 this is not a cheap chicken. On the other, a quarter chicken there (say, leg and thigh) with fries is a reasonably priced, and substantial entree at $14. My wife and I got two dinners each out of this chicken and two lunches, and our cat, Comacho, got three dinners out of all the residual bits and pieces.

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I know that in the past Branch Line used to use Green Circle chicken (https://www.dartagnan.com/what-is-green-circle-chicken.html). I don’t know if they still do, but I believe that they still taste (as of the weekend before last) as they did early on (within the first year of opening), though I did notice that they were more seasoned on our most recent visit.

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