Firebrand Saints in Cambridge, MA opened in October of 2011 and has been making nice with its high-tech Kendall Square neighbors ever since. Tables line a wall of windows overlooking Broadway. A brightly lit open kitchen bustles with activity. One wall is donned with pop art; another wall has a projection of lines tracing over Google street images. Five flat screens perched behind the bar draw you in with their ever changing images and graphics. More than just a place to grab food and a drink, the restaurant’s artwork makes your visit more of a viewing experience.
The restaurant partnered with their neighbor Sosolimited, an art and visual design studio, for their television remix artwork. One screen plays a television station, and the four adjacent screens show words, images and colors that are extracted from the images and dialogue coming from the main TV signal. A refreshing twist on watching TV at the bar, it’s hard to avert your eyes.
The restaurant’s high tech art goes hand-in-hand with their high-tech cooking methods. Chef and owner Gary Strack, who hails from Central Kitchen and the now-closed Enormous Room, uses the sous-vide technique to cook the restaurant’s highly sought burgers. This method helps lock in moisture assuring every bite is perfectly tender. Served with spicy pickles, frisee and harissa aioli, the lamb and sirloin burger in particular boasts a bunch of flavor. Diners can also craft their own burger by choosing from a selection of cheese, accompaniments like avocado or smoked bacon, and homemade condiments.
Overall the food menu caters to meat eaters, so they earned my respect. Hand-carved rotisserie dishes featuring roast beef, chicken and porchetta have a spot on the menu. There’s also an array of “additions,” including deep fried battered onions. The appetizer, which was almost too big of a portion, is more along the lines of tempura rather than your standard onion rings; it’s served with a scallion buttermilk dressing that really brings the dish together.
The restaurant boasts an extensive wine selection and an array of draught, bottled and canned beers; their full bar lends itself to their popular cocktails. Their current best seller, the Namesake, is made with Karlsonn’s vodka, King’s Ginger, grenadine and lemon. Karlsonn’s is made from seven types of virgin potatoes from Sweden; the flavorful liquor really makes the Namesake stand out. If you’re trusting, have one of the bartenders make something not on the menu. I knew I was in the mood for something citrusy but not over the top; our bartender concocted a version of a dark and stormy using spiced rum, ginger beer, muddled lime and brown sugar, and it was delicious.
Still working on drawing in the weekend crowds, the restaurant wasn’t too packed on a Saturday night. Worth stopping in if you’re in the area looking to grab a drink and a quick bite, but forewarning: you may get sucked in by the TV display and drink options.