Review: Tasting Counter.

I just got home from spending an entire week in Boston where my father ran the marathon this past Monday. Our first night in Boston last week, we decided to try a new experimental restaurant called Tasting Counter in the city of Somerville.

This sleek 16 seat restaurant is only open for dinner Wednesday-Saturday and is literally a counter wrapping around the tiny kitchen where you can watch the various chefs prepare your meal.

They offer a lengthy tasting menu, which includes a beverage pairing of beer, wine, sake, or non-alcoholic drinks. My father opted for the wine pairing whereas I went for the non-alcoholic pairing since I’m a lightweight. I didn’t photograph either of the beverage pairings but I wrote the description of my non-alcoholic pairings with the corresponding dish because they were all superb.

Welcoming Bites: Ocean Trout with Sesame and Grapefruit (8/10), Rice Cracker with Fluke and Sake Jelly (8/10), and Macaron with Rhubarb and Black Olive (6.5-7/10), Drink: Clarified Grapefruit Soda.

The tasting menu started off with three welcoming small bites: macaron with rhubarb and black olive, rice cracker with fluke and sake jelly, and ocean trout with sesame and grapefruit. Each was unique but I liked the two seafood preparations the most.

Sea Scallop Crudo with Snap Pea and Green Apple Froth and Rose Vinegar Pickled Daikon (8/10), Drink: Herbed Apple Cider.

Next was the sea scallop crudo, a light and refreshing opener. The luscious scallop was brined in green apple juice and paired with fresh vibrant snap peas and rose vinegar pickled daikon radish.

Beef Short Ribs with Pastrami Cure, Horseradish, Broccoli Rapini, Shallot, and Maple (8-8.5/10), Drink: Coriander Spiced Tonic.

This course was one of my favorite, a tasty take on pastrami. The beef short ribs were flavored with pastrami spices and served with a sweet shallot jam, bitter smooth turnip sauce, fried shallot rings, broccoli rapini, and a drizzle of maple syrup rounding out the dish.

Hand Rolled Seaweed Pasta with Lobster and Sea Urchin Sauce, Maitake Mushrooms, and Wakame (7/10), Drink: Basil Lemonade.

The hand rolled seaweed pasta was tossed in a rich lobster and sea urchin sauce with earthy maitake mushrooms and topped with fried wake, umami at its finest.

Black Bass with Five Spice with Macadamia Nut Sauce, Saffron, Spinach, and Herbs (7.5-8/10), Drink: Sparkling Rhubarb Kombucha.

Next, the black bass was perfectly cooked and dusted in a five spice mixture and served with a velvety macadamia nut sauce, spinach, a sticky saffron reduction, and tart lemon.

Miso Torched Hake with Beluga Lentil, Charred Leek, and Fried Enoki Mushrooms (8/10), Drink: Green Tea with Toasted Rice.

The last seafood course was a real winner, white miso hake. The charbroiled hake had a great crust but moist interior served with beluga lentils, a leek purée, leek ash, and delicious fried enoki mushrooms.

Schisandra Berry Tea with Pine Nut and Almond Cookie (7/10).

Before starting the meat dishes, we were given a type of palate cleaner. The schisandra berry tea was something I’ve never tasted before; sweet, sour, bitter, salty, all at the same time.

Squab Breast with Green Garlic, Potato stuffed with Squab Gizzards, and Squab Foie Gras Jus (8.5/10), Drink: Spiced Pear.

The first of the main meat courses was another favorite, the squab. The squab breast was cooked immaculately and paired beautifully with the bright green garlic sauce. The chefs utilize the entire bird by using all the gizzards as a stuffing for the potato condiment and the bones for a rich sauce infused with foie gras.

Venison with Burdock Purée, Blood Orange, Rhubarb, and Cocoa (7.5-8/10), Drink: Blueberry Shrub.

The last savory dish was the venison, which had been brined in cocoa husks giving it great flavor and tenderness. All the accompaniments were quite unique such as the burdock purée and the rhubarb (slightly too tart for me).

Pineapple Tart with Almond, Apple Sorbet, and Pine Vinegar (8/10), Drink: Juniper Berry Ginger Beer.

Chocolate Spongecake with Milk Jam, Preserved Orange, and Vanilla (8.5/10), Drink: Coconut Egg Cream.

Petit Fours: Green Tea Meringue (8/10), Duck Liver Bon Bon (8/10), and Blood Orange Chew (8/10).

As for desserts, both were scrumptious. The pineapple tart had a molasses glaze and was served with cooling apple sorbet, dehydrated pineapple chips, and pine vinegar. The chocolate dessert really hit the spot with classic but successful flavors. The chocolate sponge cake was moist with a smooth chocolate glaze served with creamy milk jam, preserved orange, and vanilla. The dinner ended with three petit fours: green tea meringue, blood orange chew, and duck liver bon bon.

The meal as a whole was a great progression of unique flavors and ingredients. I especially loved all my non-alcoholic beverages, each was inventive and incredibly delicious. Overall, Tasting Counter was an interesting and tasty meal so my rating is an 8/10.

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