Deciding where to have dinner on my birthday is a process that can begin months before the actual meal. After all the planning that went into last year’s wd~50 dinner, I wantedÂ to limit this year’s choice to the Boston area. After reading this review in The Boston Globe,Â She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided to try Tasting Counter. A few days later, the latest issue of Boston magazine arrived, with a gorgeous photo of plated dishes on the cover. They had named Tasting Counter their number one pick of the 25 best new restaurants. SheÂ managed to get tickets before the system was overwhelmed by people who had read the review.
The restaurant couldn’t be in a more hip place: It’s sectioned off from the Aeronaut brewery and pub, down the hall from a local chocolatier, adjacent to the Brooklyn Boulders climbing center, and on the same block as Artisan’s Asylum, the largest maker space in the northeast. Step through their door, however, and you are met with this quiet oasis:
The counter seats up to twenty guests and surrounds a central kitchen area:
There is more support staff in the back, but for the next two hours we would watch and be served by four chefs, two servers, and the general manager who handled the drink pairings. Once all the guests arrived, the meal began.
From left to right: Cured hake, orange sesame crisp, lime juice; almond macaron with foie gras and black olive filling; sea bream wrapped in sake gel, rice cracker. Served with Â a 2014 Domaine de la Bregeonnette Gros Plant.
Egg shell filed with bonito custard, truffle sauce, uni, and crispy nori. Served with a 2013 Sicilia Grillo.
I was so excited by this dish that I failed to take a photo. We were served a scallop shell filled with avocado oil cream, topped with sliced diver scallop, black olive, cured roe, and crispy preserved lemon. Served with a 2013 Biano di Baal.
Parsnip & Pear
Roasted parsnip and fresh pear soup served over blackcurrant purÃ©e wth pine mushrooms and sweetbreads. Served with a 2013 Sergio Mottura Civitella Rosso.
Ocean trout with shallot sauce, fermented soybeans with basil, and orange blossom gel. Served with a 2013 Philippe Badea la Foulee des Zinzins.
Roasted monkfish on the bone, fennel frond sauce, cucumber in brown butter, and milk-braised fennel. Served with a 2013 Rocco di Carpeneto RÃ³o.
A palate cleanserÂ made from “five flavor berry,” this drink was simultaneously salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. It was accompanied by a pine nut biscuit.
Miso Cured Duck
Miso-cured duck breast with apple and daikon gelÃ©e, soy sauce, and celery foam. Served with a 2013 Tripod Project Deep Probe pinot noir.
Dry Aged Beef Sirloin Cap
Beef, pomegranate marinated beets, and madcarpone horseradish cream. Served with a 2011 Chateau Lestignac L’Ancestral.
Lime curd over molassesÂ cake, topped with ginger meringue, garnished with passionfruit sauce and torched lime. Served with a 2014 Caseler Dominikanerberg SpÃ¤tlese Riesling.
Chocolate & Yuzu
Chocolate and yuzu mousse made with chocolate from neighboringÂ Somerville Chocolates, accompanied with persimmon ice cream and lime leaf custard. Served with a 2012 Les Pins Monbazillac.
Lavender chocolate truffle, strawberry almond cake, and plum vanilla chew. The card was a copy of the evening’s menu.
I loved everything about this meal. The progression of dishes was flawless, each a perfect composition of flavor combinations I hadn’t tasted before. There was the extra thrill of watching the quiet choreography asÂ each dish wasÂ assembled in front of us, followed by an explanation as it was presented by the chef. The wine courseÂ was an education in pairings withÂ bottles that were completely unfamiliar to me. And the relaxed atmosphere drove homeÂ the idea that this meal was being cooked forÂ us.
Rather than gush any more about how much I enjoyed the meal, I’ll end with this: As soon as we walked out, I looked at She Who and said “We have to eatÂ here again.”