Well, for one thing, KO Prime is one of Ken Oringer's restaurants.
Ken Oringer is a local hot shot. Well, first off, he did beat Iron Chef Cat Cora on Iron Chef America in 2008. And yes, he is the brains behind Clio, consistently hailed as one of the best restaurants in Boston. He was also nominated for the James Beard Northeast Best Chef Award four times, finally winning it in 2001. According to the restaurant's website, KO Prime's difference lies in its extensive menu, with creative takes on both the main entrées and the sides. This is what they say: "Leave the "classics" to others. KO Prime is edgy, appealing and totally 21st century."
So is it true? We made a reservation this past weekend to find out.
So why is it called KO "Prime"?
First thing we did when we sat down, Bryan asked the waitress whether the steak was prime or dry aged or treated in any special way. She replied by saying that the steaks were "the next highest level" (which, of course, means choice), and that they were not aged. At that point, we began to think that maybe we didn't feel like shelling out $40 for choice steak, especially when we've been making prime steak at home for around $11/lb.
Instead, we opted for the Restaurant Week menu. At $33.03 for a three-course meal, it seemed like a good way of trying out some of KO Prime's offerings without breaking the bank. We also ordered a couple extra sides and appetizers, just to try some of Ken Oringer's more creative dishes.
We were rather impressed that they actually had a poured soup on the Restaurant Week Menu. This is how it works. The waiter brings out a bowl which contains small cubes of roasted beets, goat cheese, and brioche. On top is a light foam. He then pours the parsnip veloute (a velvety soup) separately into your dish at the table. The soup was pretty nice, with the beets and goat cheese complementing each other nicely. I was expecting the veloute to have a stronger and sweeter essence of parsnip. Instead, it was much more on the savory side, and not that "parsnipy."
We decided to order several interesting looking appetizers and sides off of the regular menu. That way we could get an honest assessment of the entire menu, since Restaurant Week menus are often compromised in one way or another.
Citrus Parsley Salad, Beef Tongue Marmalade ($12)
The beef tongue marmalade was pretty good. This is definitely not something you would typically find in a normal steakhouse. Overall the dish was solid.
Duet of Foie Gras and Poached Forelle Pear ($19)
Smoked Pecan Crumble, Apple Turnover
Also another more unusual side dish that was rather enjoyable. The duck sausage was juicy and nicely flavored. The fois gras was pretty good - not the best we've ever had, but decent.
Short Rib Mac & Cheese
This is one of their more popular dishes, so we ordered an entrée sized portion ($18) to share between four people (you can get it as a side dish for $11). This dish was solid, though it was nowhere as good as the incredibly delicious truffle lobster mac & cheese from The Capital Grille, which is priced similarly.
Creamy Spinach, Wisconsin Mascarpone
I can't comment too specifically on this dish because I only had one tiny bite. All I remember is that neither Bryan nor I liked it that much.
For the main entree, we had our choice between cod, steak, and chicken.
Lentils du Puy, Andouille Sausage, Preserved Meyer Lemon
This dish is not on the regular menu - it was specifically created for the Restaurant Week menu. It's tasty enough, though not up to snuff with what I would expect from Ken Oringer. It's fine - a well seared piece of cod over some nice lentils with sausage. The preserved Meyer lemon did make the dish more unique. However, in the end, it was not particularly exciting. It's hardly what I would call "set apart" from other steak houses, which often do a really good job on seafood.
10oz NY Strip
Chantenay Carrots, Mushroom ragout [12 oz is $37 on the regular menu]
Bryan got this and actually sent his steak back because they overcooked it the first time. He asked for rare and got something between medium and medium rare. The manager was very good about it and quickly brought back a perfect rare steak the second time. Bryan said he could definitely tell the difference in quality between this steak and a USDA prime steak. The steak was fine, but definitely not something we would order at the regular prices ($37 for a 12-oz NY Strip steak).
Espresso Ice Cream
Chocolate Brownie, Dark Chocolate Sauce
The brownie was nice and chocolately, and the espresso ice cream was solid. Overall, an enjoyable dessert but not particularly creative or interesting. (Do I see a trend here? Is this the curse of the Restaurant Week Menu?)
Over all Impressions?
I still stand by my general opinion about Restaurant Week menus - odds are they're not as good as the regular stuff. Last year I went to Sorellina and Uni (another Ken Oringer restaurant) during Restaurant Week. Though I was pleasantly surprised at Sorellina, I was sorely disappointed with Uni.
Here, at least the Restaurant Week dishes were decent. However, I really think you miss out when you don't order from the regular menu. You don't get to experience Ken Oringer at his best (or even half his best). We've had Ken Oringer's food at Clio, and his best is pretty amazing.
So, maybe it's worth trying again. It's definitely worth trying if you can get $20 off your meal, right?
You can try KO Prime, order some cool creative stuff off the menu, and let me know what you think!
Good luck, and I look forward to seeing what you have to say!
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