Joe McGuirk seems to have moved on from Highland to oversee the bar program at ECG full time. Perhaps he will serve some kind of executive bartender role at Highland but I have not seen him there in some time.
ECG gets a pass as this is their first week but our first meal there was more on the level of the post-Schlesinger ECG, than the original ECG I remember and love. As often, we couldn’t wait and went in to check it out this weekend.
I didn’t look around too much, but the space seems to be largely unchanged and the layout exactly the same. The the Lava Lounge as we knew it is gone in feel. The space is still there but it is now just an extension of the rest of the space and the erupting volcano gone and replaced at an attempted facsimile painted on the brick. I didn’t get to see if there were any changes to the bar as people were 3 deep around it.
Speaking of the bar, the cocktails were definitely the highlight. The menu contains a list of new cocktails, as well as a list of classic cocktails faithfully reproduced by McGuirk. This makes expertly made cocktails much more accessible than at other spots. They really nailed this and is a significant upgrade over the old ECG. I forget what I had exactly, but it was some kind of mezcal awesomeness that was perfectly balanced and almost too quaffable. I followed that up with a very nice IPA from Lamplighter which is located around the corner from ECG. The beer list is again well curated but accessible to all palates.
The food was a letdown. The hamachi crudo was a train wreck. The fish was cut far too large and incompetently roughly. It looked like it had been prepared by someone who had never handled a knife before. The fish itself was past it’s prime. I was one bite and done for this dish. The ribs were overdone and the beans served with them were a bit sweet for my taste but will likely appeal to the masses. We ordered a slab of the standard ribs but were brought a plate of the spare ribs instead. The grilled romaine salad was interesting if a bit over dressed. I was personally crestfallen that the legendary tuna tacos did not make the new menu and have been replaced by a fried fish taco instead.
Here’s hoping the food improves as this would be a good family destination in the area. I will be back again after the kitchen has had time to get up to speed. I’d like to say I will pop in for drinks soon and often but the bar was absolutely slammed. We’ll see what it’s like on a week night. I enjoy a lively bar scene but it’s a fine line with people continually reaching over me to order drinks. The unfortunately named 'The Port" neighborhood among Inman, East Cambridge and Kendall seems to be burgeoning before our eyes.