Review: Journeyman

by Adam Bezigian on November 30, 2010


There are no secrets between us, my friends, so let’s just get this out of the way; Journeyman restaurant in Union Square is peerless and righteous, comfortable and complete. The one-room restaurant in an old pasta sauce factory is a tiny glowing god, a beacon of culinary superlative which stepped into the party and immediately proceeded to disrupt the whole scene.

There is no comparable experience in Somerville, or for that matter in Boston (though if we’re being honest, I rarely make my way over to “that repulsive town” across the river).

Smoked oyster, chipotle sweet potatoes, and squash ice cream

Truth be told, I, working stiff in his twenties, am not the average Journeyman customer. The clientele was largely middle-aged and perhaps more accustomed to dedication to customer service and exceptional cuisine than me. Given the price of the meals – $39 for a three course menu, $65 for a five course menu, and $85 for a seven course menu, plus the optional wine pairing which clocks in at $9 per course – this makes sense, which brings me to the only possible negative of my entire dining experience: the bill. Hark, dear reader, do not be alarmed. We give Journeyman a solid 1:1 quality-per-price ratio, making every hard-earned dollar of yours work equally hard when it comes to solid cuisine.

Pork chop and a crazy/delicious potato lard cube

I will now hazard any Fuddruckers frequenter; all others need not despair. The portions are French-sized, which means that by the end of the meal you will be satisfied (though you may feel a strong existential terror when you do not eat a head-sized volume of potatoes). Pay attention, though. Each dish may seem small but is incredibly flavorful and labor-intensive. An economy of bites is in order or else you may miss an exquisite flavor pairing.

Journeyman’s menu changes on a weekly and seasonal basis. Our experience was squash-, beet- and pork-heavy (coming from North Face Farms in Dunstable), reflecting the seasonally-available ingredients. Vegetarians, do not despair; as a lifelong omnivore, I was more impressed by the vegetarian main dish, pumpkin ravioli, rich with beets and candied nuts, than I was with the simple-though-delicious pork and short rib.

The vegetarian entree, a beet and walnut ravioli

Our salad was a delightful mix of light greens with beets and radishes amongst a spread of thick carrot soup and eggplant puree, not unlike a smokier, finer-textured baba ghanoush. The Restaurant Action Review Team who had the five-course omnivorous menu were treated to our second course, a smoked oyster amongst chipotle sweet potatoes and a squash ice cream. Our third course was an outstanding grilled calamari dish, featuring mizuna greens and a kimchi mayonnaise. Dessert was no less exciting, a nutty biscotti with apple sorbet and drops of rich rosemary cream sauce.

The point to take home is that this is a holistic dining experience. Service was on point; timely, attentive and knowledgeable without being pushy or pretentious. Unexpected amuse-bouche popped up and indeed amused my bouche (butter biscuits and lard, sparkling Gamay, ravioli of caramelized onion, and melon sorbet atop fennel jelly). Our meal lasted for the entire evening and did not for one single moment disappoint.

Collect your spare change, stop eating lunch. Do whatever it takes to get to Journeyman.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Fathmina November 30, 2010 at 2:22 PM

I’m really craving some smoked oyster ice cream and potato lard cube now.

Whitesnakes November 30, 2010 at 10:03 PM

Amazing. Sounds like I should sell my cherished childhood treasures and get over there tout de suite.

britt December 7, 2010 at 3:13 PM

Can you stack it up against the other big boys north of the river (e.g., Craigie, Oleana, Flora, Upstairs on the Square, Elephant Walk, Rialto)?

It sounds like they have passed the first hurdle of “is yer pricey restaurant actually good?”

But my next question is, “how successfully does compete for a slice of my “occasional fancy meal” piggybank?”

britt December 7, 2010 at 3:18 PM

and i still want you to narrate my life.

Adam December 7, 2010 at 9:22 PM


As the aforementioned restaurants are not found in Somerville, I can’t verify their existence. A little bird told me, however, that though Craigie and Oleana are absolutely excellent and have acceptable quality-per-price ratios, the overall food + service + ambiance is far superior at Journeyman. Craigie’s bar and skilled bartenders are feathers in its cap that does have one over on Journeyman, though.

As for the others, you’ll have to find another knowledgeable, speaking bird who offers unsolicited advice about local restaurants. This bird angle is killing me but I refuse to use the backspace key. We all dig our own graves.

britt December 8, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Thanks, Adam.

Now I have to sell my childhood treasure too.

Oversupply will glut the market for childhood treasures!

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