Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clio - Ken Oringer's Fine Dining Establishment!

For Christmas each year my mother makes a reservation at a fancier restaurant in town.  In years past we have gone to L'EspalierMarket, and Aujourd'hui (now closed).  We have tried to go to a couple of the nicer Barbara Lynch restaurants, but getting reservations can be tough during the holidays.  This year we decided to go to a restaurant that seems to fly under the radar a bit - Clio.  While it is the brain child of Ken Oringer, his other restaurants seem to steal more of the spotlight than this cozy fine dining establishment tucked into the Eliot Hotel.  Between the pedigree of Oringer and the recommendation of one of co workers who knows her way around fine dining in Boston, I knew this was a good selection for our fancy holiday meal.

Upon arrival at Clio, Nick and I met my mom and brother in the bar area, grabbed a drink and got settled while our table was prepared and we checked our coats.  Nick was convinced to order the freshly made egg nog that was truly delicious.  It was filling, but good enough to order a second glass.

Egg Nog
While my brother and mother went for glasses of wine, I chose a cocktail that was garnished with a bit of toasted coconut - how could I resist?!

Cocktail with toasted coconut.

While enjoying my drink, I was struck by how small the restaurant was.  This was not an overwhelming space by any means.  The clean and contemporary decor made for a nice eating experience, but since our dinner, Clio has undergone a substantial renovation, so I cannot speak to the current style.  When we we sat at our table we were quickly greeted by our server who also brought over a nice amuse bouche for us to enjoy.  The ingredients included a foie gras - definitely a fun and tasty ingredient.  The amuse did exactly what it was supposed to - got us excited for the meal to come.

Amuse Bouche
Shortly thereafter we were given some wheat rolls and some baguettes accompanied by salted butter.  We were lucky to have so much to enjoy before dinner because the extensive and detailed menu required a lot of thought.  There just seemed to be so many amazing choices!  The combination of techniques and ingredients was impressive.  Luckily we had an extremely knowledgeable server who went over almost every dish on the menu so that we felt comfortable in the our choices.

With so many delicious plates, here is my best attempt at covering all of the food!  To begin, the four of us split a plate of marinated yellowtail and yellowfin opal basil, ginger and garlic.  There was so much fresh fish on this plate with a flavorful sauce that it was perfect for each of our group get a good share of the dish.

Yellowtail and Yellowfin
After a good sale by the server, Nick and I both ordered the cassolette of sea urchin and lobster made with a parsnip milk, crispy shallots and candied lemon.  This was my first experience with sea urchin and I really enjoyed it!  The cassolette was flavorful and with so many textures in one dish it made each mouthful so interesting and fun.  Not having much experience with foam dishes other than seeing them on Top Chef, I was excited to give it a go, and if I had to guess, this was foam done right as it was added so much dimension to the dish.

My brother, a big foie gras fan, ordered the Foie Gras Laquee with milk and honey puree, cornichons and pickled onion berries.  The presentation of this dish was so striking, with the hardened honey that almost looked like a shiny piece of fabric.

My mom ordered the most fun dish, which was really more of a dish within a dish.  She ordered the Fall Squash Soup, which had five different treats at the bottom of the bowl including a pistachio croquant, orange and poire Williams.  I love table-side pouring of soups, but this took it to a whole other level.  It really was like having a new surprising mouthful in each bite.

Soup - Pre Soup Pour
Post Soup Pour
After a delicious first course, it was onto the main dishes.  My brother and I ordered the Duet du Boeuf, which had grilled Pineland Farms skirt steak and root beer braised short rib with a parsley root brulee, charred cippolini, and a lemon balm "diable." I was sold on this dish with the brulee and the root beer braise - two totally different ingredients that somehow totally worked in this dish.  This combination seemingly should not have worked, but it came together so well and and was a tasty dish.

Duet du Boeuf
At the suggestion of our server, Nick went with the Buttermilk Braised Organic Chicken with a parisienne oak gnocchi, golden raisins and a black truffle creme.  Nick thought this dish was delicious - the gnocchi had a great depth of flavor and the black truffle accent provided a great accent (naturally!).

Buttermilk Braised Chicken
My mother had the Sweet Butter Basted Maine Lobster with chanterelle mushrooms, fresh soy beans and "vin jaune D'Arbois." Even with all the accompaniments to this dish, the lobster was the star and there was plenty of it (enough that we even got some bites!).

Sweet Butter Basted Lobster
After such a great meal we were all so full, but the dessert menu had so many tempting options that we HAD to indulge.  First we had a bit of a palette cleanser with some cappuccino - nice and frothy.

Reed ordered the French Butter Pear with malt walnut creme and labne ice cream.

French Butter Pear
Nick surprisingly went with a chocolate dessert!  I must admit, the reason is because it was accompanied by banana ice cream.  The cake was a Miso Dark Chocolate Cremeux and in addition to the banana ice cream it had a golden miso cashew butter.  The miso was a surprising accent flavor that made for a fun combination with the dark chocolate.

Miso Dark Chocolate Cremeux
I ordered the Chocolate Coulant, which toke 20 minutes to prepare, but with the coconut cocoa nib ice cream on the side I could not resist!  My brother had called ahead to the restaurant and told them that Nick and I were getting married at the end of the week so they made the dessert a bit more special!  This had to be one of the best desserts I ever had - the chocolate and coconut combination was simply amazing.  I would seriously go back to Clio just for this dessert.  I cannot think of one dessert that tops this.

Chocolate Coulant
Molten Coconut oozing out
Unfortunately, the first time they made this it fell over before it made it out of the kitchen, so it ended up taking about 40 minutes.  While the server apologized for the delay, when the bill came I was surprised they actually charged us for the dessert.  I did not argue, but was just surprised because the service was amazing in every other aspect of the meal.  Even with the extra time, the dessert was worth it.

This holiday meal at Clio was exactly why my mother started doing this each year - it allowed us to go out and enjoy a phenomenal meal somewhere we would not normally go.  Clio had such an innovative menu with dishes unlike what you see at other restaurants, white table cloth or not.  Even though it is a foodie menu, the dishes are not overly complex and come together really well that even people who typically would shy away from the more complex dishes would find more than enough options to satisfy.

The smaller dining space provides such a lovely intimate dining experience.  Whether you are looking for a special date night or are in the mood for a great meal with friends, Clio should be at the top of your list.

Thanks, Mom!

Clio on Urbanspoon


  1. I've been really curious about Clio - thanks for the review! The desserts and the soup poured at the table are two big sellers for me!

  2. Clio is one of the top restaurants on our must-try list. The food looks beautiful!

  3. I want that soup! I had a pour-at-the-table soup at KO Prime. I admit I've never really had clio on my list, but everything looks excellent. That is disappointing that they charged you for the dessert, after their error and making you wait, that was a poor decision on their part.

  4. This is the only Ken Oringer restaurant I haven't been to! Everything looks fantastic, and I am definitely saving it for a special occasion.

  5. I havent been to Clio in years and it was only just the other day while at Deuxave I remembered it. Everything looks amazing, especially the soup and the yellowtail appetizer. What a delicious treat!

  6. this has been on my radar for awhile and I totally want to go after your review! everything looks incredible!! I love this tradition.

  7. Wow! I can't believe I have never been. Everything looks amazing. The presentation of that soup is so fun. And the chocolate desserts both look incredible.

  8. Many people choose fine dining restaurants for a special occasion, so the food must not disappoint- in either selection or quality. You don’t need to feature a huge menu, but it should be interesting, offering unique items that patrons wouldn’t find at any other restaurant.

    best restaurant in Boston

  9. Great Place for a fine dining and Awesome FOOD! I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and decors of this place! We came here for our wedding anniversary & enjoyed this fine dining place in town. Lovely food with excellent service always attentive without being intrusive. Legit!

  10. Sounds like you really enjoyed trying all the food and all the class the fine dining restaurant offered. It’s always fun to dress up and to eat in a classy restaurant with the people closest to you. :) My favorite part when eating in fine dining establishments is trying meals that I haven’t tried before and being surprised of how good they are. :)

    Elnora Hartwick

  11. Indeed, Clio is a must-visit resto in Boston. Gosh, the food really looks scrumptious! I want to try their Amuse Bouche and Chocolate Coulant. I could see in the photos that these are the food that I won’t be able to resist once I find myself in that restaurant. :’DD

    Daphne Michaels


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