Saturday, July 30, 2005

Restaurants: Boston: Clio

Visiting my wife who is living in Cambridge and taking Harvard Summer Session courses. She has a low opinion of the Hay Market, China Town, the weather, and the food.

Having lived in Boston for a year, I was determined to address this food concern in particular. Since I had lived there, a Peet's coffee had popped up near harvard square. Yesterday I ordered my large iced coffee, paid with my Peet's card from back home, and then headed to the park outside in search of wireless. After about 10 minutes I had reservations at Bonfire, Clio, and The Elephant Walk - my OpenTable points total climbing in a hurry.

I'd eaten at Clio once before, in the spring of 1998, one year after it opened. I still remember the meal fondly - bone marrow three different ways. Still cruising on hi-jacked wireless and Peet's I stumbled across this review —comparing the restaurant to Allen Iverson— and figured something must have changed.

Last night we scoped the menu, wanted pretty much everything on it, and decided to go with the tasting menu which includes dishes served at Clio and the adjoining sashimi restaurant Uni. I don't recall the dishes well enough to really do justice to them or the menu.

Here's what I could piece together:

· Pomegranate cocktail with lime foam
· Heirloom tomato "martini" & heirloom tomato popsicle
· Oyster w/ uni and osetra caviar and crystallized fennel flower
· Lacquered foie gras
· Corn chowder with liquid corn ravioli
· Calamari "pasta" with carrot sauce served from pitcher
· Kobe beef
· Panne cotta with carmelized onions and jalapenos, served with smoked lime
· Chocolate timbale with wasabi
· Cheese course

All of this was great - at turns clever, whimsical, and genuinely adventurous. The heirloom tomato "martini" was particularly tough to see go. When the oyster came out, I didn't even recognize the fennel flower as edible. In retrospect this was a tragedy. I ate the one that came with the Foie Gras, think it was crystalized in a mixture of sugar and salt - otherworldly.

It was with the desserts that the Allen Inverson comparison came into a kind of focus, particularly the wasabi chocolate timbale. I really enjoyed it more than I liked it. Think the associations that I have with the flavor of wasabi are so specific, that I just couldn't get myself to quite like it. I also feel that my specific reaction to that dessert was the point. Recontextualizing associations.

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