Radius – Boston, MA [A special experience]

I’m going to do this one a little differently. Because I’m not a photographer and can’t do this style of food justice in images, I am going to write this using my usual cell phone pictures and then present a gallery consisting of some images from Cassie’s pretty decent camera for you to get some more info, possibly.

When Cassie had the idea of making a trip to Boston for Memorial Day weekend, I agreed. We do some walking around Quincy market and some other stuff when we go. I wanted to eat somewhere extra special, so I asked Steve Barnes for his personal recommendations. One of his many recommendations popped out at us as extra special.

That was Radius.

Right on their website, their tagline is “Who says four stars can’t be fun?” You know I’m all about the fun, so this is where we decided upon.

We had a reservation for 7PM on Saturday evening. Radius is located at 8 High Street in the financial district of Boston.

Inside, the restaurant is trendy, roomy, and inviting. The wait staff is dressed to the nines, and they are attentive to all of the wants and needs of guests. And although they have a strong brigade of chefs, including James Beard award winning executive chef, Michael Schlow, they provide very modern salt and pepper shakers on the table.

The regular menu, set up as a four course prix fixe menu, was impressive, and it would have been difficult for me to decide on courses.

However, we had just driven from Albany to Boston. I didn’t come all that way to not go all out, so we went for the seven course prix fixe menu, and washed it down with good, old tap water. It was an interesting experience, and something I’m not at all accustomed to.

It wasn’t long after ordering that a first course came out from the kitchen. But it wasn’t the first course listed. It was a complimentary amuse bouche sent by the chef.

It was a fresh crab salad that was served with dots of vibrant mango puree. It was very simple, well seasoned, and a great start.

Next was another free course. A cold cucumber soup served with a spoonful of a lime sorbet added to the plate at the table.

This was absolutely delicious. It was fun to get some of the lime ice along with the soup and let them equilibrate and diffuse on the palate. On its own, the soup was flat and uninteresting, but the contrast of cold with colder with the lime sorbet really brought the freshness and flavors from the soup.

Our first course was finally served.

It consisted of Spanish mackerel with sorrel, basil, fennel, and caviar. The mackerel was very lightly cooked and was the oily base of the dish. Every component provided a beat of different taste. The sorrel brought sourness; the basil brought sweetness and fragrance; the fennel brought crunch and a very light flavor; and the caviar added extra richness and saltiness. Even though all these components had a forceful way about them, the fish was sliced just thick enough that it didn’t relent against the other ingredients. Truly perfect.

The next course was celeriac in textures.

The celeriac was mashed, roasted/braised, and made into thin chips. There was also a brown sugar reduction on the plate (which is the liquid from braising the celeriac), some caviar, and some micro Thai basil. On their own, each texture was interesting. The mashed was probably the least interesting, but along with the caviar and brown sugar, it was great. The chips were excellent, but the braised celeriac was something special. I had to inquire about the specifics on this preparation, and our server indicated it was simply pan roasted with brown sugar. Words cannot describe how good this was. Tender, sweet, complex, and delicious.

We enjoyed our next course, bass with green almonds, asparagus, nebrodini (a type of mushroom), and fava. This had an odd balance of earthiness from the vegetables and legumes and freshness from the fish. The method in which the bass was cooked played to the rest of the ingredients. It was cooked perfectly, and all of the individual components were barely manipulated before plating. Having these almost raw accompaniments to the fish was something I wasn’t prepared for. It was delicious, but I thought it was a bit of a departure from the rest of the meal to this point.

An additional course was provided by the chef.

It was a small fish, described as something like red snapper, pan cooked and served over an asparagus puree. It was a bit of a disaster, because there were bones or possibly scales all over the filet. We ate as much of this as we could, but it definitely broke up the enjoyment of the meal a bit. We provided feedback to the kitchen that this was less than optimal; I can’t imagine scaling and deboning a fish that small.

The chef had a little fun with the next preparation.

It was a coddled egg (from Silverbrook Farms) served with nori, nettles, house made bacon, and garbanzo beans. This was a fun presentation, as the egg was barely cooked and holding together. It provided a sauce for the rest of the dish. I thought it was a little light on the bacon and heavy on the other stuff, but having the bacon be subtle in the background was probably what they were going for. The textures of the nori and nettles were wild and really contrasted the egg white and yolk. It wasn’t my favorite dish, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this.

They brought us out knives that looked like pocket knives that don’t fold, so I knew the meats were coming.

MMMM Meat!

The rabbit porchetta was served with parsley root, spinach, sauce Robert, and pistachio. This could get its own post! The porchetta was wrapped in a house made rabbit bacon, and was seasoned beautifully. The other things on the plate helped distract me from the fatty goodness of the rabbit. I couldn’t tell you what’s in sauce Robert if I wanted to, but damn was it good! Parsley root is a little strange, but provided some texture and the smallest hint of flavor. I could have eaten so much of this course.

We were getting full, though, which seems unlikely because the portions were small, but over the 2 hours these were served, your brain and stomach get a chance to catch up.

(For the rabbit course, Cassie requested that something else be served. They made her a completely different dish with chicken.)

I had to google the next course.

I knew it was steak, but I had no idea of the cut. The dish was Painted Hills Culotte of Boeuf with baby carrots, potato mousse, and bordelaise sauce. Culotte refers to a certain part of a rib eye steak. Our server stressed that it is the chef’s favorite cut of the cow and has a very low yield. It was served along with a part of the larger section of the rib eye to demonstrate the chef’s point.

The culotte (top) was cooked rare, and the other part was more like medium rare. Personally, I preferred the other cut. The culotte was good and tender, but I thought the intensity of flavor was much more obvious in the lower portion of the steak. Bordelaise sauce is perfect with a rib eye, and the potato mousse or foam was fun and playful even though it deflated fairly immediately.

The final course was yuzu curd with juniper, rosemary, and meringue.

This was an extremely playful dish. It was served in a miniature waffle cone which was warm and crunchy, almost like a candy. The yuzu curd was intense, and the bold flavors of rosemary and juniper drove this intensity further. This was one completely unforgettable bite.

But wait…

There’s more! (and my camera started taking annoyingly blurry pictures)

Three additional desserts were delivered by the chef. The first was a white chocolate panacotta served with dots of citrus and mint sauces. The second was a “chocolate candy bar,” which featured malted milk ice cream and powder on the plate. The final plate were some small pastries and a jele. The details are fuzzy, but I do remember enjoying everything about the desserts a lot.

After over three hours of experiencing the most intricate meal I’ve ever eaten to date, it was over, and it was time to leave. The meal had many high points and one or two lower points, but, after 13 courses (remember, we only signed up for 7), I have to say I was very impressed. The chefs in the kitchen are clearly creating their dishes based on combining simple flavors, textures, and aromas and are dedicated to providing a full gastronomic experience.

Enjoy some more pictures, presented with minimal color balancing, from Cassie’s Camera!


4 thoughts on “Radius – Boston, MA [A special experience]

  • the fuj.

    I’ll contradict myself here since I do enjoy going to a new (to me) restaurant and ordering a bunch of small plates to share with whomever I’m dining with rather than ordering one or two large entrĂ©es, and while what you had here is probably similar in quantity to sharing a bunch of small plates, the presentation of such little food on such massive dishware annoys the shit out of me and would detract from the overall experience.

  • Valerae

    Wow, what creative courses.

    I sort of understand what the fuj is saying about the giant plates and tiny amounts of food. A couple of the pics did make me laugh, they seemed a little pretentious. But, given that, I do still get artistic presentation and realize that a gigantic bowl of macaroni and cheese isn’t what they’re going for here. You don’t want or need massive amounts of food when you sign on for a 7+ course meal.

    Also, I’d never say no to this meal, so although I may snicker a bit, I’d totally appreciate it.

    • derryX

      There was a lot of blank space on most of the courses, that’s true. In most of the cases, the presentation was very playful and fun, so the snicker-factor is probably what they were going for, and in most cases, I snickered too.

      The celeriac in textures dish was probably the most elaborately plated dish I’ve ever encountered, and, even though the empty space on the plate seemed silly, the continuity of the flavors as I ate through that dish was completely unforgettable and made it clear to me that the elaborate presentation did serve a purpose. Now, to many, this type of thing would be considered “pretentious.” I can totally appreciate that, but it was seriously an unforgettable experience!

  • Valerae

    I’m going to have to remember this when I have 12 bulbs of celeriac in my CSA box in a couple of months.

    You nailed my feelings exactly. I don’t necessarily mean “pretentious” as a negative criticism in this context.


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