SOMERVILLE (CBS) – It happens here in Somerville. No longer referred to as “Slumerville,” it is now hip to be square, as in Davis, Ball, Union and Teele Squares. This is also a foodie town, home to the inventor of Marshmallow Fluff and a booming restaurant scene.
That scene is buzzing in an unexpected spot not far from Union Square. You’ll find a brewery, a craft chocolate shop and a unique fine dining experience all inside the old Ames Safety Envelope factory. The area is teeming with innovative companies and is referred to locally as Somernova.
“We are part of the Aeronaut food hub,” explained Peter Ungar, chef and owner of The Tasting Counter.
The space was originally reinvented by Aeronaut Brewing, but soon came to include Ungar’s restaurant. It’s a 20 seat counter in the shape of a horseshoe. Diners buy tickets for a 9 course dinner paired with wine. They sit at the counter, watching chefs prepare their meals.
“There’s no menu. It’s meant to be a surprise highlighting what’s in season at the moment,” Ungar explained.
One of those ingredients is just a few steps away. “Somerville Chocolate is the only chocolate we ever use,” Ungar vowed.
Eric Parkes’s chocolate shop is a small 400 square foot kitchen and retail space positioned between The Tasting Counter and Aeronaut. He imports and roasts beans from around the world to create his uniquely flavored chocolate bars. From bean to bar takes several days. It starts with sorting, then grinding the beans, which can take hours; and tempering the chocolate, which can take days.
The finished products are carefully wrapped in paper printed with vintage maps of Somerville’s aforementioned squares.
Parks also uses ingredients from his neighbors, including a while chocolate infused with Aeronaut’s beer.
While the Tasting Counter is closed off to the Aeronaut customers until after their two formal seatings are complete, Eric’s tiny chocolate shop is a draw.
“After you grab a beer and people tend to wander this way and it’s often the same reaction, ‘Oh, there’s chocolate here,” he said.
Eric loves talking about his passion with the Aeronaut customers and is even working on a new package design so he can sell the chocolate in an old cigarette vending machine.
Like many other breweries, the Aeronaut space attracts large groups of friends and even families.
“You’ll see kids’ birthday parties,” Eric said. “The brewery has been very active in fostering this as a space where someone might not be able to have a bunch of money for a function hall,” he added.
You might need a GPS to find this place, but if you like beer, chocolate, and fine dining, it might be worth a visit to 14 Tyler Street in Somerville.