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COURTESY OF THE KIRKLAND TAP AND TROTTER

The Somerville-based restaurant The Kirkland Tap and Trotter delivers friendly atmosphere and enjoyable food.

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The Kirkland Tap and Trotter

425 Washington Street

Somerville, MA

Monday – Sunday: 5:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Craigie on Main has held the position of the upscale restaurant near MIT since before I arrived. Recently, the restaurant’s chef Tony Maws opened a more casual eatery out on Washington Street in Somerville. His new brainchild, The Kirkland Tap and Trotter or KTT, is an excellent choice if you are looking to celebrate a little bit without breaking the bank.

Walking into KTT, I was immediately hit with a hipster vibe. I made the mistake of wearing plaid, which meant that I blended right in with the waitstaff. But our waiter was friendly, attentive, and extremely knowledgeable about the menu, a necessity in a restaurant with many novel options. The lights are perhaps a bit too low and the music a bit too loud, but the overall atmosphere inside KTT is very relaxed and friendly.

The dishes are served as soon as the kitchen makes them and are designed for sharing. This is definitely not the restaurant for you if you ever growled at someone for coming near your plate. The menu changes often and features a wide variety of options in various sizes, so it would be difficult to get bored with the KTT even if it were a weekly stop.

The highlight of the many dishes that I tried were the sirloin tips. They were cooked to a perfect medium rare and served alongside grilled avocado, which somehow matched their flavor perfectly. Really, though, it was simply the quality of the meat that stood out, as I expect from a farm-to-table chef like Maws.

The smaller dishes also deliver quite a punch in this dim dining room. In particular, the polenta was a surprising hit among my group, comprised mostly of carnivores. Of course, it helped that it was flavored with bacon, but that extra touch was subtle enough to allow the other flavors in the dish to shine through.

One less-than-stellar dish did arrive at our table. At the recommendation of the waiter (who was mostly spot on), we went with a sausage platter served over sauerkraut. While the sauerkraut was as good as some that I’ve had in Austria, and the side plate included three types of mustard, the sausages themselves didn’t bring much to the dish. Somewhat bland, they required the zest of the mustards to be interesting.

I would also recommend that you check the specials board before you order. The best dish I had at KTT was the pork neck medallions, which was absolutely sensational but served for only two days without any advance notice. This was definitely a case where listening to the waiter paid off.

Finally, KTT offers several delicious dessert options to finish your meal in style. Even though I was stuffed with the other dishes I had enjoyed that night, their brown sugar ice cream still managed to improve my evening. With hot dishes, desserts and a very solid cocktail menu, KTT should deliver for almost any diner. With a price point that is fairly reasonable, particularly for a special occasion, this is definitely a restaurant that is worth the trek just past the Cambridge border.