Grilled whiskey barbecue chicken sandwich at Foundry on Elm
Hard to believe Foundry on Elm has been a Davis Square staple for more than a decade. The classic decor, with grand hanging lights and red upholstered banquettes, reminds me some of the Overlook Hotel ballroom in “The Shining” – and I mean that in the most complimentary way. The spare speakeasy vibe welcomes all without pretension, a point underscored by the homey menu and reasonable prices. As a night spot the Foundry checks multiple boxes: date night; sports bar; fast, good gastropub eats. Check, check, check. The crew that runs Foundry started with The Independent in Union Square and manages The Rockwell stage and Saloon whiskey bar downstairs, which embodies the “gin joint” feel even more (natch, Covid has limited operations). The eatery upstairs boasts a friendly outside dining area on Elm Street, which in these times has has been transformed into a winding, communal dining pavilion. On warm days, Foundry’s windows open out to the sidewalk with bar seating perches to take advantage.
The menu rotates some, but it’s always tight and focused. There’s a raw bar section and mains (the wild mushroom tortellini has my eye) and cheese and charcuterie boards, but the things Foundry does best are its seasonal soups (asparagus and butternut squash), the comfort food duo of tomato soup and grilled cheese with basil, a meze plate (hummus, beet tzatziki and yogurt eggplant caponata, individually or on one big board) and my culinary calling, the grilled chicken sando with whiskey barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar and a dousing of spicy ranch on a toasted telera roll (let’s call it a Mexican ciabatta). The combination’s just right; the bacon is perfectly cooked, crisp and lean but not burned; the roll is light and airy; and the sauce tangy, spicy and yummily there, yet subtle. It’s emblematic of the eatery, with its casual haute ambiance (reminding me some of the now-shuttered Temple Bar, down the way on Massachusetts Avenue), comfort eats and the Pats on HDTV. Foundry on Elm is open for dinner after 4 p.m. and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.