Back to the basics
Some of the simplest dishes on Waypoint’s new brunch menu stand out as its best
1030 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Daily, 5:30–11 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. (brunch)
Nestled right outside of Harvard Square, Waypoint is Michael Scelfo’s second restaurant after the excellent Alden & Harlow. Featuring beautiful coastally-inspired dishes, elegant modern décor, a carefully curated raw bar, and prices to match, Waypoint is the type of nice restaurant you might not expect to find MIT students at very often.
Enter their new, surprisingly affordable brunch menu. Offered on Sundays, it takes classic breakfast dishes like eggs benedict, pancakes, and avocado toast and puts a creative, seafood-rich, certifiably Waypoint spin on them.
Our brunch started with a platter piled high with Kenny’s Breakfast Breads, Waypoint’s house-made selection of breads and pastries. The English muffin I tried was soft and pillowy; the scone, rich and buttery. The tangy berry-orange jam they were served with was delightful, and the many other pastries I didn’t get to try looked delicious as well.
Next, came a selection of oysters and a scallop crudo. There’s not much to say about the oysters except that they were good and fresh; they were presented beautifully with a homemade mignonette and a bright-orange hot sauce that I wish I could have taken home with me. The scallop crudo, served with supremed satsuma, fermented garlic blossom, smoked pine nuts, and a fennel aioli, was easily my favorite dish of the meal. The scallops were light and tasted like the open ocean; the texture was perfect, melting like butter in my mouth. Nothing was out of place. The citrus flavors and sweetness of the orange blended with the sharpness of the garlic blossom; this was finished off by a hint of smoke from the pine nuts and the creaminess of the aioli. It was a dish that felt perfectly in balance — one that I thought about for the rest of the meal.
Next, came the more traditional breakfast foods. There were brown butter pancakes with vanilla mascarpone and fresh berries that were rich and nutty and a perfect mix of crisp and fluffy. There was the instantly-Instagrammable torched avocado and croissant toast: brioche-like bread complementing the runny egg, charred avocado, smoked shrimp salad, and pickled red onions topping it. A small side of patatas bravas (spicy potato wedges), served with garlic aioli, vastly exceeded my expectations, with a ridiculously crispy, lightly seasoned exterior giving way to a tender potato center. The everything-bagel-inspired whitefish pizza had a forgettable crust but made up for it with creamy mascarpone, briney capers, and delicious whitefish.
On the other hand, I found the potato latke benedict with lobster (a little bit of a strange combination flavor and texture combination), spinach, bacon and eggs pizza (not quite as good as the whitefish) and the chicken fried oysters and waffles (oysters a little bit lost in the crispy breading) to be good but not particularly exciting or intriguing like the rest of the menu. In a way, it felt like the dishes were trying too hard to be special, and in the process, had lost the ingredient-focused, nothing-out-of-place excellence and simplicity found in the scallop crudo and fresh oysters.
Overall, I had an excellent experience at Waypoint. Despite its minor foibles, the brunch menu is tasty and a surprisingly good value, ranging from $11 for the pancakes to $21 for the lobster benedict. The atmosphere is welcoming and classy, and the food is well-cooked and noticeably well-presented. It’s the type of place I can see myself heading to with a couple of friends on the weekend to enjoy a nice brunch outside of the MIT bubble. Still, I get the sense that the true innovative nature of Waypoint isn’t found in its quirky takes on breakfast foods, but rather in how it presents and accentuates the fresh, beautiful seafood that the restaurant has always been about, of which I got one tantalizing taste. That sort of quality is worth paying for, and I hope to be back soon.