During the semester, it’s easy to get caught up in life on campus; there’s always something going on, so Tufts students tend to stay on campus, which keeps the dreaded fear of missing out (FOMO, as they say) at bay. But trapping oneself in the Tufts bubble can result in a general disconnect from both reality and the vibrant towns and cities around campus. Just a few miles, or even blocks, from campus is a plethora of neighborhoods filled with trendy bars, lively music venues and chic restaurants.
One such restaurant is Casa B. Located in Union Square, Casa B is a hip tapas-style restaurant that will beckon you off campus with its stylish ambience and small, creative Spanish and Caribbean-inspired options. While it is probably a bit above the average college student budget, with prices reaching up to $18 per dish, there are also affordable dishes, making Casa B a great dining option for a small group or an extra special date.
Upon entering, the joint appears rather small; the hostesses’ podium is set up right in front of the door, with stairs leading down beside it. The upstairs space of the restaurant is quite narrow, with just a couple of candlelit two-person tables. Down on the lower level, however, the place offers bar-seating — where diners can watch the staff prepare aesthetically pleasing orders — as well as regular tables. With fashionable white counters and chic décor, the Casa B’s vibe is definitely one of its selling points.
Servers bring out plantain chips as a complimentary appetizer, which are crisp and salted just right. On the menu are various tapas (including vegetarian, seafood and meat-based options), sandwiches and salads. The common thread among all these dishes is the stylish presentation and innovative flavors.
The “gnocchi de yuca” is a terrific and intriguing vegetarian option; the gnocchi is homemade and covered in a dark, creamy porcini mushroom sauce. The taste of the mushrooms and the heavy cream create a decadent flavor, which might be difficult to eat in large quantities but is perfect for a tapas. Accents of Cabrales cheese, a Spanish blue cheese made from unpasteurized milk, add an interesting twist of spiciness to the sauce. The particular spices in the dish are difficult to pick out, but the chefs certainly knew what they were doing in combining them.
Another great menu item is the bacalaitos fritos, fried breaded cod with brandade and cilantro aioli. The fried fish is incredibly tasty — but not in a greasy or overbearing manner. The garlic- and cilantro-based topping gives the dish a little more breadth, adding a different texture to the crisp fritters. At $13, the dish is one of the more affordable options on the menu, though it is probably not enough to fill diners with particularly robust appetites.
This reviewer tried the “albondigas,” a meat option consisting of beef meatballs in a sauce of guava, onion and tomato. Again, the unique combination of flavors will appeal to an adventurous palate, as it juxtaposes different textures of food and spice. In particular, the tinge of guava makes the dish stand apart from anything offered at other restaurants.
The downside to eating at Casa B is that, as a college student, you might feel some guilt for paying costly sums for meager portions. That being said, the quality of the food is really worth the price, and if the bill is shared among a group of friends, the price can seem a little less daunting. The atmosphere of the restaurant is hip but still inviting, and the serving staff is invariably friendly. While it’s probably a once-in-a-while destination, Casa B will take you away from the Tufts bubble altogether and acquaint you with one of Union Square’s most enjoyable dining experiences.