Friday, December 5, 2008
5 Strawberry Hill Road
Three times for dinner and three hits! The first time we ate at Sprigs was on October 25 to celebrate my husband Alex’s birthday. Since we also had tickets for 51 Walden, it was a limited time but a well presented and delicious event.
It is refreshing to find a new place in an old location (Chez Claude was here previously, at the corner of Acton’s Great Road and Strawberry Hill Road) that doesn’t require a long ride on busy highways. With all the back roads between Carlisle and Acton, it is possible to go at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery if, of course, it is before the end of daylight saving time.
For dinner on the first occasion, I had the haddock encrusted with green olive tapenade and crispy shredded potatoes served with a tomato herb sauce and French green beans ($23), and Alex had the braised lamb shank with a white bean ragout seasoned with pancetta and mint ($19). This was after a delightful shared salad of apple, walnut and dried cherry over mixed greens with a maple dressing ($9).
The second time we enjoyed the grilled rack of lamb with rosemary-mint crust and minted lamb au jus. This had four small lamb chops vertically presented ($27). The chops were perfectly cooked, and the only addition I would suggest is a little green or yellow vegetable to accompany them. Though it was more expensive than other items on the menu, I had leftovers for another night. That evening Alex had the special of skirt steak with a port wine reduction. I like a wine reduction, but I wondered what the different flavor was; it was vaguely familiar but foreign to my steak encounters. It turned out to be Chinese five-spice powder. I do particularly like this on pork and you might enjoy it, but if you like your steak to taste like steak, ask about this addition.
That evening we shared a chocolate dessert, rich and sinful. It is the kind of sin you can repeat often and somehow convince yourself all those antioxidants are healthy enhancements that make up for the rest. In fact, with a little imagination, you might call it a vitamin- rich dessert ($7).
The third time at Sprigs, we repeated the lamb shank and tried soy apricot lacquered salmon with grilled asparagus ($19). Alex also wanted the crispy potatoes that came with the haddock, so he also ordered those. They were shredded like the ones you would find in a potato pancake, but were left loose and nicely browned, and with the “to-die-for” crunch and flavor.
Sprigs’ martinis run in price from the house martini (Beefeater gin) at $8 to exotic and mysteriously un-martini-like ones at $12. New drinks, called martinis, are a puzzle to the older crowd that thinks gin or vodka and a twist of lemon or olive is a martini. Now there are choices that sometimes contain no gin or vodka, and one wonders how they get classed as martinis. The most puzzling, of course, are the dessert martinis with chocolate, Kahlua or Bailey’s Irish Cream. There is a good selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle.
The atmosphere at Sprigs is relaxed, the service is excellent and the food is very well prepared. I would highly recommend you call soon for a reservation. ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito