Barcrawl Review: Bambara in Boston

For the last three stops of the Great Cross-Country Barcrawl, Maggi and I stayed at Kimpton Hotels, a new chain for us. (The one we liked in DC was full.) In Boston, we stayed at the Hotel Marlowe, on the river in Cambridge. I want to do a quick post at this point about the Marlowe’s restaurant and bar: Bambara.

With the exception of Ritz-Carltons (and San Francisco hotels, as I shall discuss soon), I usually only enter hotel bars when exhausted and intending only to self-medicate. “Double vodka martini, lots of vermouth, hold the fruit,” is my usual, let’s-get-this-over-with order. I was very pleasantly surprised with what the Marlowe had in store for us.

We needed a convenient place to eat before heading out to Drink for the evening. To our surprise, our own hotel’s restaurant was the highest rated place on OpenTable in the immediate vicinity. With a shrug, we went on down. Bambara is a smallish place with a very open floor-plan and lots of windows. The menu is light but inspired by New England traditions and ingredients. You’ll be shocked, shocked to note all the lobster on it…. We mostly stuck with appetizers so we could try more things, and found everything to be generally quite good.

As is our practice, we had a seat at the bar for a drink before getting our table. That is when I looked down at the fairly extensive cocktail menu and saw the following, for the first time ever, in any hotel bar: A Pegu.

He swooned.
You just don’t see men execute a good swoon much any more…

I did not swoon. I may have giggled a bit giddily, but that is it.
Anyway, said Pegu was delicious, but I do question where they got the making instructions for it. It looked like this:

Orange wedge, and served on the rocks? Really?

I had to tease there, but Pegus on the menu (+1000), executed weirdly but still deliciously (-250), aside, it’s not a bad cocktail menu at all. Damned impressive, in fact, for a hotel bar.
There are more vodka drinks than I’d want, but fewer than I’d expect. They sport a good selection of classics (including one I won’t name because they don’t deserve a visit form the Trademark Cops) and a number of originals. Whoever is responsible for the menu likes blueberries (again with the local influences) and really likes spicy drinks. It’s a nice selection, and those we tried we all well-balanced and tasty.

Bambara is a nice restaurant, considered by itself. If you are looking for a hotel in Boston (or Cambridge to be exact), a place of this quality in which to have a cocktail should be a huge checkmark in favor of the Marlowe.

This review is part of my larger Great Cross-Country Bar Crawl series. Here is the main post for our Boston stop, with links to all reviews for the city.


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