When we were planning our trip to Boston, we knew we had to pencil in a special dinner at Clio. I’m absolutely fascinated by the crazy food science that molecular gastronomic wizards like Chef Ken Oringer whip up in the kitchen, so Clio was a perfect fit. From the moment we took our seats, our friendly server Katherine led us on a magical journey through ten stunning courses. We had mentioned that we traveled a long way from the land of Foiehibition and would appreciate all the indulgence we could get. They certainly delivered, and I daresay the Chef had at least a little bit of fun with it.
We decided on the 10-course tasting menu. Here at Clio, the tasting menus are chef’s whim… basically a kaiseki omakase. Some courses hail from their a la carte menu while others are completely new spur-of-the-moment concoctions. The 10-course selection would be broken down into 7 savory courses, 1 cheese course, and 2 desserts. Just be sure to mention any allergies or dietary restrictions… then sit back, relax, and enjoy.
I knew it was going to be a good night when even the table bread was delicious. Thick slices of a rustic loaf with a hard crust and a fluffy middle, a generous dollop of silky whipped butter… I had to resist from filling up before the dishes had even begun!
The Amuse Bouche: foie gras mousse garnished with cacao nibs and microgreens. Chef did not mess around and started us off with foie right away. The mousse was smooth and not at all gritty. We were excited for our first taste of foie gras in a very, very long time!
The Palate Cleanser: tomato water “martini” with caperberry and a tomato puree “popsicle.” The drink itself was super refreshing and playfully decorated with drops of oil presented table-side. What stumped me was just how clear the tomato liquid was! With our palates sufficiently cleansed, we were ready to move onward.
Course 1: hamachi toro sashimi – a crudo of yellowtail belly slices topped with crispy pork belly crackling “croutons” and a black truffle vinaigrette… SO GOOD. A dish from Uni (the sushi bar / lounge next door), the balance of the fresh fish, a tart and citrus-y vinaigrette (was that yuzu I detected?), and crispy and decadent pork cracklings made for an excellent first course. This turned out to be one of Martin’s favorites of the night.
Course 2: live uni from Maine – raw sea urchin with dashi gelee served with a thin spinach wafer. The presentation was stunning, although the wafer didn’t break quite as we expected (or as the chef intended, I’d imagine). It just split in half and fell onto the table. Sad face. Good thing we abide by the 5 second rule!
Here’s a close-up of the golden uni. If you look really carefully you can spot the flavorful bits of dashi gelee.
Course 3: foie gras torchon – torchon topped with bread crumbs and served with pickled rhubarb and a nori croquant. Delicious! This dish, featured on their a la carte menu, really reminded us of how much we missed foie. The richness of the torchon was well-balanced by the tart rhubarb, and the sweet, crunchy crisp added another textural dimension to the dish.
Course 4: Maine fluke – butter poached with black lime, umeboshi, fava beans, and shiso relish. It’s no fluke (pun intended), this dish was genius! The buttery white fish coupled well with the acidity of the lime and umeboshi dancing on the palate. We also found it interesting that the shiso relish tasted distinctly of fish sauce (in a good way).
Course 5: fresh white asparagus from Southern France. These beauties are among the first of the evanescent three-week-long season… so exclusive that only one case was delivered to Clio’s kitchens. They had beautiful texture and were served with black trumpet mushrooms, foie-infused broth, and a flavorful foam.
Course 6: foie gras laquée – seared foie gras with piquillo pepper jam, milk & honey puree, cornichons, topped with grains of paradise and candied rye. This breathtakingly stunning dish had me at hello. The glazed (or per its namesake, lacquered) foie gras was a delicious combination of savory and sweet. Even the garnish was thoughtfully constructed – a crisp made from a rye bread base that was then candied and pulled like taffy. Fascinating!
Course 7: California squab with wild rice, charred Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, vanilla caramel, duck confit roulade with a foie gras center. This entree is on their a la carte menu, but the roulade stuffed with foie was made just for us! The squab was sous vide with a beautiful rare scarlet red and a crispy seared-off bottom, and Martin, who had never had wild rice before, enjoyed the long, dark grains paired with the sweet vanilla. Another one of our favorites (but really, it would be so hard to pick just one!).
The Cheese Course (Cheese #1): Katherine brought out two cheeses. The first one, a hard sheep’s milk cheese paired with apricot, was more to Martin’s taste. It had a strong, aged aroma which contrasted nicely with the honeycomb.
The Cheese Course (Cheese #2): The other selection was a soft cow’s milk cheese with syrupy golden raisins and a bit of honeycomb. I preferred this one to the former, and I loved the texture of the reconstituted raisins in the sweet, cloying syrup.
Course 9 (Dessert #1): white grapefruit panna cotta with grapefruit & rose sorbet, sorgum tuille, and candied grapefruit peel. Personally, I’m a bit fan of the tart-bitter notes that naturally accompany white grapefruit so this dessert was perfect for me – refreshing and not too sweet. The tuille had a roasty-toasty flavor reminiscent of a brittle sans nuts. The panna cotta base was creamy, and although the texture was a bit more dense than I am used too, it went well with the cool and light sorbet.
Course 10 (Dessert #2): Violet Vacherin with violet meringue, lychee creme, moscato gel, chocolate sorbet and edible flower garnish. A relatively new creation by Pastry Chef Monica, this was almost too pretty to eat and I had no idea where to start. There was a lot going on in this dessert (including something in maltodextrin?) so every bite was like a new experience.
Farewell: dark chocolate covered kumquat bon bons. I had expected more tartness from the kumquat but this was actually quite sweet and the perfect little bite to end the night.
While we were most certainly satisfied with the food, we were also very well taken care of by Katherine. She eloquently described, from memory, every element of each elaborate dish and answered our questions without hesitation. I would not be able to do that without sounding like a rehearsed script, but she was very personable and truly made our experience complete.
The tasting menus are not cheap, but our experience was definitely worth every penny, especially if you enjoy dinner as the main event, as we do. The 10-course adventure left us pleasantly satiated and thoroughly entertained throughout our three-hour dinner. I’m already looking for reasons to end up in Boston so we could return for more!
Check out Clio Restaurant: cliorestaurant.com
370 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
See their Yelp reviews here!