Monday, December 28, 2015

Clio | Final Service

 At his flagship restaurant ClioChef Ken Oringer creates beautiful, wildly inventive French dishes with an Asian flair; inspiring and impressing at every turn while perfectly balancing flavors, textures and nailing presentation. The awards and accolades for both the chef and the restaurant over the years have been outstanding. Nineteen years to be exact. 

December 18th was my first time here. I was really glad I was able to dine at this Boston legend before they close their doors for good on January 1st. I left wishing I had taken the opportunity to splurge on this experience sooner; and wanting to shout from the city rooftops for all to go before time runs out. 
The Smoke & Cinder ($17) was an intoxicating blend of Fidencio Mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and burnt cinnamon syrup.  In a unique process the smoke from the burnt cinnamon is trapped inside an overturned glass and the drink is poured tableside. The smokey, woodsy scent lingers - hitting you on the nose with each sip as it intensifies the flavors of the Mezcal and Aperol - two of my favorites!

The Cassolette ($25) is a revelation where lobster, sea urchin, parsnip milk and candied lemon meld to create a rich flavorful bisque. The parsnip milk foam is light and frothy, a technique that adds a playful element to the dish before exposing the rich broth filled with sweet, buttery, briny uni in delicate harmony with tender bites of lobster. 

While the plate might appear overwhelming, the Pheasant Roast ($45) delivers on all accounts. The pinkish-white meat - cooked to a perfect tenderness has a delicate earthy flavor which lends itself beautifully alongside kimchee ramps, corn preserves, seeds + grains and a touch of foie gras. There were so many fun, whimsical textures happening on that plate, from the unique nutty crunch of the sunflower seeds and farro to the frothy, creamy foie gras. And it was definitely a treat to have ramps out of season, the kimchee a wonderful way to preserve this springtime delicacy! A classic Ken Oringer dish is his Black Licorice Roasted Muskovy Duck ($45). The duck is indeed phenomenal, served with a  Buddha's Hand citron spring roll, fennel bulb, rutabaga and candied pomello.

And after an incredible meal - in swooped a dessert that took it to another level of wonder. The Milk and Chocolate ($13) showcases chocolate ice cream encased in a hard shell with chocolate crumbs, glazed quince, salsify and pulled honey. I paired dessert with White Oak Akashi ($11) - a fantastic small batch Whiskey from Japan. 

My evening at Clio will be fondly remembered long after they close their doors for good. This meal was for sure one of the best. 

370a Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and sending all my best for ringing in the New Year. See you in 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

51 Lincoln | Newton Highlands

51 Lincoln is a cozy little restaurant and bar tucked into the trendy suburban neighborhood of Newton Highlands. Here, thoughtfully prepared dishes are comforting and artfully plated. Its proximity to the Green (D line) made it a convenient choice for our holiday girls dinner. 

We toasted to the holidays with intriguing cocktails like the Walk in Walden ($13) made with bourbon, a grape + cinnamon shrub, xocolat mole bitters and lemon zest, and the Quince Essential ($11) with white rum, lime, rosemary infused vermouth, cassis and sparkling hard cider. The bread dish of all things was unequivocally the groups favorite of our shared starters. Served warm and charred to a delicate crisp on the edges, the honey wheat boule ($5) plated over whipped maple butter, crumbled sage and fleur de sel is not to be missed.

On the contrary, the Pan Seared Watermelon Steak ($12) left us feeling perplexed based on its hyped demand. Apparently when the chef took this off the menu his regulars were outraged and he brought it back to appease them. The watermelon takes on a peculiar texture similar to that of a rare tuna steak, but, is served nice and warm, complimented by a brown sugar balsamic glaze and highlighted with a feta and arugula salad. It was good, but we weren't blown away. 

Other lovely dishes we shared included: Potato + Leek soup ($10) with truffle crema and nora spice, Cambodian Style Napa Cabbage Salad ($10) with almonds, fresno, thai basil, sweet chili vinaigrette (not pictured), and the Porcini Mushroom Terrine ($10) special with a frisee salad. They offer a few cheese and charcuterie, we chose salva cremasco ($7) served with dried cranberries, walnuts, honey and golden brown toasts.
A couple of the gals enjoyed the Pan Seared Ribeye Steak ($36) with potato gratin, broccolini, shallot red wine sauce, horseradish and parsley butter. I was delighted with my Herb Roasted Chicken Under a Brick ($27) served over a sugar pumpkin puree with pan seared brussels sprouts, cippolini onion and a thick yet delicately sweet au poivre.

I moved to Newton in August, so it was nice to discover a new-to-me neighborhood spot and of course to catch up with these sweet ladies!

51 Lincoln
51 Lincoln Street
Newton Highlands, MA 02461

Friday, December 18, 2015

Classics Perfected | Fairmont Copley

Elite Fairmont bartenders from around the world joined forces to create a new global cocktail menu. The result was perfectly reimagined, time-tested classics. I was honored to celebrate the launch with them last Thursday evening at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. They hosted an elegant affair in the St. James speakeasy, easily one of the best cocktail parties I've attended!

 [The Menu]
Fairmont Old FashionedWoodford Reserve Bourbon, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rumsimple syrup, angostura bitters, garnish: wide orange wheel
Perfect Martinez | The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Contreau, sweet red vermouth, dry vermouth, angostura bitters, garnish: lemon twist
VSOP Boulevardier | Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Remy Martin VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, Campari, sweet red vermouth, garnish: wide lemon wheel
Right Word | Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain Elderflower Liquorfresh lime juice, garnish: thinly sliced lime wheel
Sparkling Collins Royal | Belvedere Vodka, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, fresh mint + cucumber, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, garnish: sprig of mint
Pomegranate Paloma | Casamigos Reposado Tequila, Contreau, pomegranate juice, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters, garnish: coarse salted rim, half lemon wheel
I was enamored with the first four, especially the Boulevardier as Campari is one of my favorite spirits. This one drinks similar to a Negroni with whiskey stepping in for gin. A splash of champagne cognac adds a luxurious touch. The Old Fashioned hold true to its simplistic standards while benefiting from the excellent, full bodied Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum which imparts a richer flavor. In the Perfect Martinez the botanicals in the gin mingle with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth creating a well balanced martini. The Right Word offers a light and elegant variation of the classic Last Word. Swapping out Chartreuse, now St Germain and Lillet are responsible for the bright floral notes. I didn't have a chance to sample the Sparkling Collins or the Paloma - but the Fairmont's elevated versions certainly sound delicious and refreshing. 

This gorgeous Boston hotel is especially stunning around the holidays. If you're local, I wouldn't hesitate to visit the Oak Long Bar + Kitchen to sample these elegant cocktail revivals - they will not disappoint! Otherwise, you can find them at Fairmont properties worldwide. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Godfrey Hard Hat Tour


Presenting a sneak peak of The Godfrey, a four star boutique hotel opening January 2016 in Downtown Crossing at 505 Washington Street. The hard hat tour was a fun little behind the scenes look at the construction still taking place and some of the completed rooms on the 5th floor. 

Downtown Boston has completely revitalized over the last three years and I am super excited for all the recent openings and heightened positive energy in the neighborhood. Working right in the center of it all where DTX meets the Theater District meets Chinatown and being among the transformation first hand has been amazing. I've got so much love for this city - and The Godfrey embraces that Boston love, too. I can't wait to experience the completed space

P.S. Enter to win a two night stay with the #DiscoverYourElement contest - details here

Monday, December 14, 2015

Loretta's Last Call

Loretta's Last Call has been a solid addition to the Fenway neighborhood since its opening in June 2014. Offering country music lovers an authentic experience; if you're like me, chances are you've been in on one or two occasions for live music or mason jar moonshine cocktails after a Red Sox game. Cowboy boots on, jamming out to a honky-tonk band in front of the raised stage earlier this year, I sent a snapchat to my ladies with a caption "Takes me back to Nashville!".

Similarly, the interior is evocative of a country saloon with open hardwood floors space for boot scootin', wagon wheel light fixtures, neon bulb signage, an antique jukebox and walls lined with vintage country music paraphernalia. 

It had not crossed my mind to try the food at Loretta's until they invited me in for dinner. On a Tuesday night while most of the bar partakes in a free two step lesson, my sister and I sip cold beers while noshing on all things fried, tucked into one of the black vinyl booths with an up close vantage point of the dance floor. 
Loretta's will satisfy a craving for Fried Pickles ($8), these slices are served piping hot and golden crispy in a mini cast iron pan alongside small bites of fried jalapenos, pickled okra and a chili remoulade. 
We couldn't pass up fried chicken - a true testament to Southern cuisine. Both the Buttermilk ($15) and the Hot Chicken ($16) were enjoyable renditions, although the batter was heavier and thicker than some of my favorite versions down south. Still the skin remained crispy and the meat itself was tender and juicy. The Hot Chicken came with white bread and pickles to cut the heat from the deliciously spicy cajun rub. For me, it was the perfect amount of heat that kept me going back for more instead of reaching for my water glass in between every bite. They have traditional sides to choose from - the Collard Greens and Loaded Mash are both tasty and full of flavor.
Their draft list is small and non-exciting and the aforementioned moonshine cocktails that I've tried in the past were not calling my name tonight. The bottled and caned beers are where it's at, from a robust selection I was excited to see Lone Star ($5) offered. (More southern nostalgia, this time for Austin, TX!) I also drank a 21st Amendment Fireside Chat - a seasonal winter warmer full of festive spices. 

Last but not least, I was enamored with their off menu Bacon Waffle Sundae and appreciated that the waitress made sure to tell us about it at the beginning of the meal. (Otherwise I might have ordered the Chicken + Waffles and then reallly wanted this dessert. These waffles are so good though, I probably could have had two!) I digress. A sturdy and crisp on the outside, fluffy and bacon loaded on the inside waffle is capped with a dreamy house made maple ice cream, a drizzle of maple syrup and heaps of fresh whipped cream. This sundae is destination worthy!

1 Lansdowne Street
Boston, MA 02215

this meal was complimentary, all opinions are my own