Tomorrow, June 29, 2013, is a sad, bittersweet day.
It is the last day for Radius, Michael Schlow’s flagship restaurant in Boston. Radius announced in early May that it would not be renewing its lease of the large space it has in the financial district. We don’t know too many details yet, but the word is that Chef Schlow plans on opening another restaurant (with a different name) not too far away, retaining pretty much the same team but with a new more casual and communal concept.
Chef Michael Schlow opened Radius in 1999 and soon won a plethora of awards, including the highly regarded James Beard Award for Best Chef Northeast, Best of Boston, and Best New Restaurant from Food and Wine Magazine – just to name a few.
It’s known for having one of the best (and most expensive!) burgers in Boston, a gorgeous specimen piled high with fried onion strings, horseradish sauce, and Vermont cheddar cheese. Bryan and I first tried it in 2011 and loved it.
Radius has always been on Bryan’s short list of places to try in Boston. Sure, we’d dined at the bar before and Bryan’s had their burger for lunch numerous times. However, we’d never really had a full-on dinner there.
So imagine our surprise and excitement when Radius invited us to try dinner at the restaurant before it closed. Of course we immediately said yes.
Here’s a look at the fabulous “Chef’s Tasting Meal” we had.
The first course, a larger “amuse” of sorts, was a Chilled Carrot Soup made with ginger, curried brioche croutons, and Thumbelinas (a variety of carrot) decorated with a French parsley leaf. We both absolutely loved the soup. It was bright, sweet, and had very intense and pure carrot flavors (“carrot-y” as Bryan called it). We savored it slowly, not wanting our little bowl to end.
The next course was gorgeously plated and pleasing to the palate as well. Ahi Tuna (topped with just a tiny splash of sea salt) was served with hamachi tartare (delicious!), speck (a type of cured meat), Muscat grapes, and a huge red sorrel leaf. On the side, pepitas and a tiny bit of balsamic reduction sauce rounded out the plate.
The tuna was decent, though not nearly as flavorful as the tuna that you might get at a high-end sushi place. The overall dish, however, worked surprisingly well.
We gasped when the next course was served, partly because of the vivid black colors of the dish. This was Squid Ink Tagliatelle which was served with Brussels Sprouts and topped with a ginger foam.
On the side there were black crumbles of flavor, which added a nice, charcoal-like smokiness to the dish, though I’m not exactly sure what these crumbles were.
The pasta had good texture and overall the dish was well executed. Though it was quite rich (maybe a butter sauce of sorts?), the crunchy Brussels sprouts balanced out the richness nicely. Frankly, the foam didn’t taste too much like ginger, and we questioned whether it was supposed to be something else.
The next course, the Seared Scallops, came with red quinoa, citrus pieces (orange, I believe), morel mushrooms, artichokes, and pea shoots. Overall, this dish was one of the more underwhelming dishes of the evening. The sauce for the quinoa was very buttery and rich – almost too buttery for my tastes. Thankfully, the scallop was still perfectly cooked (almost raw on the inside, just the way I like it!).
The Slow Roasted Halibut was served with an intensely green salsa verde, pickled fiddleheads, grilled white asparagus, and ruby streaks. The “ruby” streaks turned out to be this surprisingly spicy and flavorful sauce. It almost reminded me of a fragrant Chinese hot sauce in some ways. We both loved it. The salsa verde was herbaceous and also intensely fragrant. We didn’t expect this dish to be so flavorful, but it was actually really good.
I’m not a huge fan of foie gras, so I did not really partake in this next course, which is an optional supplement to the Chef’s Tasting Menu. The Trio of Foie Gras includes foie gras served three ways: foie terrine (left), seared foie gras (middle), and foie gras ice cream (right).
The terrine is made with a pancetta cap and served with walnut crumble, plumped raisins, and sassafras. The seared foie gras is served over a delicious toasted brioche (even I thought it was pretty awesome). The foie gras ice cream is served as part of a root beer “float”.
Bryan’s favorite course of the evening was the Smoked Collote of Beef, which was served with “pommes” Robuchon (yes, those famous velvety mashed potatoes from Joel Robuchon), morels, duck confit, ramps, and red wine jus.
The beef was gorgeously flavored with this intense smoky flavor that resulted from being cooked with hickory chips. Bryan even said, “this is the best beef dish I have ever had in a tasting menu.”
Ever? Seriously? That’s really saying a lot considering where we’ve even (though to be honest, I have to agree that typically I’m not crazy impressed with the beef course at most tasting menus).
The “famous” velvety mashed potatoes were just a tiny spread on the bottom of the plate, not nearly enough to really appreciate just how amazing these potatoes are. I guess you’ll have to go to Las Vegas to enjoy that.
The cheese plate was another optional supplement you could add to the tasting menu. Bryan loves cheese so he’s always happy to enjoy this added course. We had cheese from Mt. Alice, Blue Ledge Farm, and Pardou Ardi Gasna. The accompaniments were lovely, and the all of the cheese was pretty good.
For our palate cleanser, we enjoyed a first “dessert” of cherries in a chocolate shell topped with a light, lavender sorbet. The chocolate was nice and dark – not too sweet – and overall the dessert was nice, though a bit heavy as a palate cleanser.
We tried two different desserts. The Goat Cheese and Huckleberry Cheesecake was pretty mild. Though you could tell it was made with goat cheese, the goat cheese flavor did not overpower the dessert. This came topped with a small buckwheat “crust”, huckleberry ice cream, a huckleberry glace, and tart lemon syrup.
We had the Pilon once before when we ate at the bar at Radius years ago. This classic dessert is one that easily pleases many palates. The bittersweet chocolate cone has a nice deep chocolate flavor, and is contrasted nicely by the rum raisins, maple fenugreek ice cream, and crushed peanuts. The combination of flavors works surprisingly well, and I enjoyed the textural contrasts between the ice cream, chocolate, and crunchy nuts.
Though we were stuffed, they came by with some final bites: strawberry cream over shortbread, chocolate cake, and a blood orange pate de fruits.
All in all, we had a fabulous time at Radius. The dishes we tried really reflect Chef Michael Schlow’s talent in designing and executing dishes.
Though it’s sad that Radius is closing, I’m sure Chef Schlow will continue to express his talent in whatever new venture he cooks up.
As for Radius’s last day, diners who show up tomorrow on this final, special day for the restaurant after 9PM can enjoy free late night snacks and drink specials, part of what they are calling “last call.”
For those who are dreading the disappearance of his famous burger, do not fear. Chef Shlow has promised “it will pop up somewhere soon.” The burger will be doing a pop-up tour around Boston. I’ll definitely keep you posted once I find out more details regarding where and when.
Best of luck to Chef Schlow and the Radius crew. We look forward to your next endeavor!
8 High St
Boston, MA 02110
Disclaimer: Radius paid for our meal and drink. All opinions are my own.
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