Ella’s in Wareham is widely regarded as one of the best, poshest restaurants in the area, so when Cranberry’s opened just over the Bourne Bridge in June, 2012, with Ella’s Chef Marc Swierkowski creating the menu, we were eager to give it a try. It took us months to actually get there but we finally made it on a recent Saturday, with friends L and N, who were similarly interested to see how the Ella’s experience would translate in a pub atmosphere.
Like Ella’s, the food at Cranberry’s is very good, and a particularly good value. But unlike Ella’s, where the food is augmented by elegant decor and an experienced waitstaff, Cranberry’s doesn’t convey “special night out.” Our waitress was sweet and cheerful, but gave us the impression that it was her first night on the job — any job. When we arrived, the Big Dog observed that the building used to house a dive. So maybe the interior design transition is occurring slowly. The sound of a very good folk duo in the bar subtly helped to overcome the grimness.
We started with a bottle of Dreaming Tree “Crush” — a merlot-zinfandel blend that we liked but not as much as the Dave Matthews vineyard’s cabernet sauvignon. Upon hearing N’s melancholy tale of the mac and cheese with chorizo that Ella’s no longer serves, then her delight when she saw the dish as an appetizer ($8) on Cranberry’s menu, we had to get an order for the table. We agreed it was good, but apparently it wasn’t the same.
Gina and L both ordered the night’s special steak preparation ($24), a ribeye topped with creamed spinach and accompanied by fingerling potatoes. It was thin but delicious, and perfectly cooked.
The Big Dog ordered something called “sheppard’s pie” ($17), whose preparation was as unconventional as its spelling. Featuring braised lamb shank, roasted root vegetables, and celery root mashed potatoes, the dish was short on shank, and made us wonder whether messing with a classic is a good idea. The Dog also got a spinach salad ($9) with a cranberry pear compote whose greens were superb but the the maple cider vinaigrette was a little too sweet.
N ordered a pulled pork sandwich ($10) and asked that the fries be cooked extra crispy. They arrived in a cute little aluminum bucket, just as she wanted them.
We don’t want to sound negative at all — we enjoyed the food and will definitely go back. But on our next visit, we won’t be expecting Ella’s Lite. Instead of getting dressed up and being disappointed in the atmosphere of the dining room, we’ll wear ballcaps and sneakers and sit at the bar, and be pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the food.
Cranberry’s Restaurant and Pub
618 MacArthur Blvd, Pocasset