Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tasting Counter: Consistently Compelling Cuisine

This holiday season, if you feel like splurging on a fine dining experience, then Tasting Counter receives my highest recommendation. Chef Peter Ungár is undeniably one of the best chefs in the Boston area. He is creative and passionate, a perfectionist and humble, talented and personable. You can check out my last review for more information about this amazing culinary experience.

Last week, on the evening after Thanksgiving, I dined at Tasting Counter, introducing my good friend Adam Japko to the restaurant. Adam stated it was "utterly mind blowing" and "I've had my head in the sand missing out on Peter Unger's brilliance in Boston for too long." Yes, he was more than impressed.

During this season, Tasting Counter has expanded their lunch hours, serving lunch from Tuesday to Saturday, 1pm-2pm. Dinner service is held Wednesday to Saturday (one seating on Wednesday at 8pm, and two seatings on the other days, 6pm-8pm and 8pm-10pm). They have also started holding a Natural Wine Bar, from Thursday to Saturday, from 10:30pm-12:30pm, where you can enjoy wine and snacks. With Lunch and the Natural Wine Bar, you even a couple less expensive ways of checking out Chef Ungár's food.

Let me lead you through our latest dinner, though please note that this is but a glimpse of the wonders you will find. I didn't take notes, just basically photos, so my descriptions won't include every special element of each dish. First, numerous ingredients are locally sourced or created in-house, from the butter to the yogurt. Second, as you receive each course, the details of its creation are provided to you, and you'll be amazed at the numerous ingredients, and their preparation, that go into each dish. And all of those ingredients coalesce into a balanced, flavorful and exquisite dish. Third, it is a joy to watch the perfection of the chefs as they compose each dish, which also look as beautiful as they taste. Aesthetics are very important to Chef Ungár.

With your dinner, you also get your choice of beverages, ten pairings of Wine, Sake, Beer or Non-Alcoholic drinks. Their beverage director, Eileen Elliott, has composed plenty of excellent drink pairings for the various courses, and she presides over their Natural Wine Bar too. For our dinner, Adam and I both opted for Sake pairings, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Tasting Counter has the largest Sake selection of any non-Asian restaurant in the Boston area. They understand that Sake works well with all types of different foods and you will enjoy experiencing the marvels of those pairings.

As for the specific dishes, there wasn't one that I didn't enjoy and there were plenty that brought sheer joy to my palate. I'm providing the pictures with only the barest of descriptions, hoping that alone will compel you to visit Tasting Counter. It is one of the best restaurants in the Boston area and if you haven't dined there yet, you really need to make a reservation.

Welcoming Bites: Sweet potato, sherry, fig, parma ham. Ocean trout, sesame & lime. Sea urchin, cultured butter, brioche.

Sea Scallop: lavender yogurt, wild herbs, preserved scallop, seaweed.

Yellowtail: rice smoke, eggplant, cucumber, meyer lemon, bashing pear.

Hand Rolled Seaweed Pasta: hen of the woods, sea urchin custard, anchovy, bonito.

Fluke: sake lees, kohlrabi, cranberry

Sea Bream: sunchoke, pine mushroom, burgundy truffle.

To cleanse your palate, you receive Schisandra Berry, a cold brewed tea which is sweet and salty, sour and bitter. I really want to make a Sake cocktail with this tea.

Whole Duck: fermented garlic roast, confit leg & liver, butternut.

Sirloin Beef Cap: patron pepper, green curry, daikon, cilantro, lime.

Green Tea & Lemon: lime leaf custard, avocado oil

Hazelnut: cardamom mascarpone, ginger milk jam, chocolate sorbet

Parting Morsels: Almond, buttermilk, thyme; Pineapple vanilla fruit crew; duck liver bonbon.

What an amazing dinner!

1 comment:

CLM said...

I don't like seafood or Japanese food but your photos almost had me changing my mind!