Where to The Independent: pub on one side, restaurant on the other, and a new patio out front. The Union Square mainstay’s brethren include Precinct, Foundry, Saloon, and the Davis Square Theater, all Somerville landmarks.
What for After work, late nights, nights out, quiet dinner, and weekend brunches. The three seating possibilities — bar, restaurant, and patio — give the place a chameleon quality. It will suit your needs.
The scene Off the Red Line thoroughfare, but not off the beaten track. The patio is sequestered from the bustle of Union Square by a plant-lined wooden partition. Wood paneling and black wicker chairs create a deck feeling. Rain threatens, but 30-something couples, some younger, and a few families occupy all the tables. Wide windows open into the indoor section, which is just quiet enough for people to talk without shouting. The restaurant side has its own bar. A man sips beer and types steadily on his MacBook. A hipster girl fills a small Moleskine with tiny cursive. On the pub side, which is darker and louder, the Red Sox game is on. An elegant older man, alone at the bar, chats with the bartender.
What you’re eating Korean and Indian groceries aren’t hard to come by in Union Square, but for a good burger or other stellar takes on pub favorites, the Independent is your best bet (even if your taste in fries demands they’re covered with blue cheese). Feebly portioned, runny skillet mac and cheese falls flat. Small plates include fried almonds and warm artichoke dip. A good selection of oysters, mussels in habanero broth (below), fried and pleasingly crisp whole belly clams, clamshack quality, when available. Quinoa salad with melon isn’t exactly pub food, but this is Somerville.
Care for a drink Inventive, unpretentious cocktails. Agave Maria for refreshing summer citrus, or a Narragansett-based Ginger Shandy, if you do beer cocktails. But the real star is the impressive list of more than 30 craft beers on tap, with all the best local brews.
Overheard A family chats in Portuguese. A man with manicured stubble describes a friend’s outdoor wedding. “I love the idea of a backyard keg party wedding,” his female companion tells him, obviously unserious. Another man tells his girlfriend, “The thing about oysters is: Sometimes you have to keep reordering them and reordering them and reordering them,” and then orders more. “The Peach Stone sounds fantastic, I think I need that,” a woman tells her server. “It has all my favorite things: peaches, mint, honey, lemon, bourbon. Oh, except bourbon. Does it taste a lot like bourbon?” The waiter responds, “No, it’s sweet, but it has a lot of bourbon in it, just so you know.” She’s sold: “That sounds great.”
The Independent,75 Union Square, Somerville, 617-440-6022 www.theindo.com