Clio Restaurant – Boston, MA

Boston, Food Adventures

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.

Clio, right at the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Ave

Clio, right at the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Ave

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.

Table Bread

Table Bread

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!

Amuse Bouche: Foie Gras Mousse

Amuse Bouche: Foie Gras Mousse

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!

Palate Cleanser: Tomato "Martini"

Palate Cleanser: Tomato “Martini”

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

Course 1: Hamachi Toro Sashimi

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

Course 2: Live Uni

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!

Course 2: Live Uni (the reveal)

Course 2: Live Uni (the reveal)

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

Course 3: Foie Gras Torchon

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

Course 4: Maine Fluke

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

Course 5: Fresh White Asparagus

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 Laquee

Course 6: Foie Gras Laquee

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

Course 7: California Squab

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!).

Cheese #1: Sheep's Milk with Apricot

Cheese #1: Sheep’s Milk with Apricot

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.

Cheese #2: Soft Cow's Milk Cheese with Raisins

Cheese #2: Soft Cow’s Milk Cheese with Raisins

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: White Grapefruit Panna Cotta

Course 9: White Grapefruit Panna Cotta

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: Violet Vacherin

Course 10: Violet Vacherin

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.

Bon Bons

Kumquat Bon Bons

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!

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Check out Clio Restaurant: cliorestaurant.com

370 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215

See their Yelp reviews here!

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Farewell to Foie – The Last Supper at Waterloo

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

What better way to spend June 30th than with a double date with our friends Cassandra and Brian! Together we bid farewell to foie at my and Alice’s favorite local gastropub Waterloo & City with a 6-course menu entitled “The Last Supper.” Unfortunately by the time this entry is posted, SB-1520 would have passed and these dishes will be a fond memory. But without further ado, here is the play-by-play of The Last Supper:

Ahi Tuna & Foie Gras Torchon

The most eye-catching explosion of colors of the entire meal, the ahi tuna and foie gras torchon was an attention-grabber of a dish early on in the tasting menu. We were expecting Chef Brendan to balance all the fatty foie with other sweet and tart flavors and he did just that in this dish. A generous chunk of foie on top of the lean slice of ahi with the pork gelée and prune jam was one delicious bite after another. The micro greens provided a much-needed textural contrast between the foie and ahi. Well-rounded dish and tied the chicken liver and foie gras mousse as my favorite dish.

Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Mousse, Toasted Petit Pain

Second course consisted of a foie gras addition to the charcuterie menu’s Chicken Liver Mousse, which gave it a smoother texture. Again, Chef Brendan kept in mind the richness of the foie and included a sweet potato jam to balance the dish. However, it was a little too sugary. Also, the ratio of toast to mousse was a little off to me – I could’ve used another pair of toast (although the mousse was delicious on its own as well).  The plate was completed with a caper berry, cornichon, pickled onion.

Foie Gras Ravioli, Duck Broth, Wild Mushrooms

Third course is a foie gras ravioli and wild mushrooms in a duck broth. Alice was a huge fan of the broth which reminded her of a favorite Vietnamese dish she had as a child (mì vịt tiềm). For me, the broth was a little too salty and we both agreed that the pasta was undercooked. We were both a fan of the mushrooms which provided an additional umami flavor. The explosion of foie gras out of the ravioli was especially pleasant to the palate. Unfortunately, one of my raviolis was missing a filling but that was promptly rectified by Cecily, the Maitre D that night.

Halibut, Manila Clams, Foie Gras Sauce

Fourth course consisted of a beautiful piece of halibut, perfectly seared and served with manila clams, potato cubes, peas, and bacon (or pancetta?) in a foie gras sauce. The sauce had great depth of flavor with the rich foie and the smoky bacon. The halibut was beautiful and delicious but as the star of the show we really wanted to see the sear on the halibut so it was confusing as to why the clams were placed on top of the halibut. Nevertheless, the combination of the halibut, bacon, and foie sauce all in one bite was heavenly. It was one of Cassandra’s favorites.

Slow Roast Duck Breast, Seared Foie Gras, Plum Jam

The fifth and main course was a generous piece of seared foie on top of a slow roasted duck breast and complemented with micro greens and a plum jam. We’re always a fan of dishes that compose of different parts of an animal and this dish was exactly that. The duck breast had its own jus but also worked surprisingly well with the plum jam. The seared foie definitely needed the plum jam to cut the fat and the ratio of foie to jam was perfect. This dish serves to only reaffirm my belief in the duck. All hail the duck!

“Twicks”, Chocolate Panna Cotta, Butterscotch Mousse, Shortbread, Caramel

The sixth and final course is something we haven’t seen on the menu before, although Alice had seen it mentioned as a new menu addition. The “twicks” is kind of like a deconstructed Twix candy bar when eaten all together. Individually, I was a big fan of the chocolate panna cotta and the shortbread. We did not recognize it at the time, but we later found out that it was topped with foie gras ice cream. As delicious as this dessert may be, we almost regret not finishing the meal with the bourbon glazed donuts as we usually do.

All in all, we were very pleased with this last farewell hurrah for foie. We popped in to say hi to Chef Brendan at the pass, and he seemed to be having a great time going all-out to work with this delicacy before midnight. Waterloo & City never fails to disappoint, and even though it was Cassandra and Brian’s first visit, they’re already looking forward to coming back and trying dishes off the regular menu.

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Check out Waterloo & City: www.waterlooandcity.com

12517 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066

See their Yelp reviews here.

Follow them on Twitter @WaterlooandCity!