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Tico - did tasting menu with friends last night

k
Kitamonster Feb 11, 2011 06:27 AM

So four of us went to Tico last night to use our Living Social coupons... we screwed up, didn't realize we were supposed to call ahead, but they were extremely gracious. Michael Schlow came out to chat about what we like, then for close to two hours just sent out dish after dish. And everything was excellent. Either Chef Michael or a young, very nice chef named Joshua Smith came out to explain every dish. I should have made a list but what I remember:
Fried manchego with a pomegranate honey dipping sauce (I will dream about this)
Scallop ceviche with avocado
Octopus salad
Seared tuna with an eggplant... relish? don't know how to describe but we soaked every last morsel of it up with our bread. It was delicious.
Pork belly with sweet onion (so good I had to post to Facebook about it)
Edamame tacos
Mushroom quesadillas (the only miss in my book - I thought they were too salty, but everyone else at my table loved them)
Sirloin with some kind of spicy rub and a side dish of warm cannelini beans, kale, and bacon - this may have been the overall favorite - meat was so tender and delicious, and the side was a perfect complement
Filet mignon with grilled zucchini - we couldn't decide if this was better than the sirloin or not. Both were just gorgeous.
(both beef dishes came with delicious fries and a nice mustard dipping sauce)
Cheese plate of four local cheeses - very nice blend of the familiar and the unusual
Peanut butter mousse with chocolate ice cream
Some kind of dense chocolate cake with drizzles of butterscotch and spicy sauces - I would drink this butterscotch straight if they'd let me

If I had to find a compaint I'd say the drink service was a bit slow, but the bar area was packed shoulder to shoulder with the after-work crowd so I can't really fault them. Aside from that the service was very good - outstanding if you consider it was only their second night.

  1. r
    RoyRon Feb 22, 2011 02:17 PM

    If Michael Schlow reads the posts on this board I have one suggestion.....Please turn up the lights! My wife and I had dinner at TICO on Sunday evening. The place was full when we arrived and we were seated promptly. However, after the wait staff gave us the menus both of us had to use the small votive candle on the table to be able to shed some light on it. I don't believe that Mr. Schlow is trying to create an especially romantic atmosphere at TICOso a little brighter lighting would be welcome.

    My other negatives about Tico are, the service is spotty. Our server was polite and knew the menu well but it took forever to get the drinks we ordered delivered and after ordering the food delivery was disjointed. However, one of the managers did come to our table and let us know that the kitchen was a bit backed up so our entrees would be delayed.

    Because of the wood floors, the rather bare walls and the high ceilings Tico is quite noisy too. Even at a table for two the noise level made it difficult to have a conversation.

    For the food we ordered the Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Fava beans. This was excellent and I think my wife almost had another order for her main course. I would go back to TICO just for this dish. I had the shrimp tacos (Very, very good) and the seviche of the day which was well prepared but the chipotle sauce that came with it was much too spicy and overwhelmed the subtle tastes of the seafood in the dish. For mains we chose the Shrimp with crispy vermicilli and the roast pork confit. Neither of these were memorable and I think if we go back to TICO again we would stick with the appetizers and the small plates and just skip the mains.

    For dessert we split the chocolate tart which was really excellent. If anyone is a real chocolate lover they won't be unhappy with this dessert.

    Overall a pretty good experience but I felt they are still working out some of the kinks.

    -----
    Fava Restaurant
    1027 Great Plain Ave., Needham, MA 02492

    Tico
    222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

    1. tatsu Feb 21, 2011 07:49 AM

      This is an excerpt of a review i just wrote.

      Flavors not only borrow heavily from pan-Latin themes in Tapas format, but also Asian, even Middle-Eastern ways. Crispy Fish Tacos (2 for $9) play straight but arrive on delicately charred flat-grilled single wheat flour tortillas. Double corn tortillas are more common, but wheat is also done in Mexico. Octopus with Yellow Peppers & Citrus ($11) nods to both Spanish Tapas and Japanese Sunomono, finely sliced with good bite, complimented by various peppers and Aleppo from Syria. Festive looking, palate opening, an excellent starter with a glass of fruity white or brut.

      Tuna Tartare Tostadas ($10) don't register after such a zesty dish, but light colored sushi grade Maguro is very fresh if a bit plain. Accompanying fried Tostadas are crunchy enough to form a platform for small tuna chunks and thinly sliced cukes, unfortunately the Tostadas' vegetable oil masks the Tuna's fat.

      Clams Steamed with Chiles, Lime & Cilantro ($12) are a julienne or two more expensive, but deliver relative value. A small but heaped pile of eight or so large Cherrystones are as tender as they come, even minutes after hitting the table. Au jus a lovely balance of citrus and clean stock that doesn't overpower other dishes. After so many oysters and mussels recently, this dish stands out because of its high execution, not an easy task to coax out of new sous chefs.

      Shishito Peppers with Shallot, Sea Salt and Lime Zest ($9) perhaps strayed too far from traditional Japanese Izakaya prep of grilling. Small peppers arrived deflated and oily, while lime zest did not complement the profile. More inline but still creative, Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Chipotle & Crushed, Crunchy Fava Beans is brilliant, an excellent value at ($7), highly recommended.

      Rest of my review is here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tico-boston#h...

      -----
      Fava Restaurant
      1027 Great Plain Ave., Needham, MA 02492

      1. Beachowolfe Feb 21, 2011 05:57 AM

        Went to Tico last night at 8:30, had a few drinks in the cocktail lounge and dinner in the front dining room. I like to look at what's available and didn't want to mill around a bar where everyone else was seated, so not having any sort of list, let alone an actual cocktail program, was a bummer. Not a big deal in the end though as I assume they'll have this ironed out soon.

        Highlights- Crispy fish and pork w/ spicy cucumber tacos. Amazing chipotle sauce w/ the shrimp a la plancha, cooked perfectly. The "creamed" corn was actually more like succotash- not creamy at all and I thought the sweet corn was great with the salty bacon and spicy chiles (not sure if i got any thai basil coming through). Chorizo risotto was good with firm but creamy texture. Tuna tartare tostada- not my favorite dish anywhere, but a good, fresh ramekin full of tuna served with cucumbers and a crispy tortilla (not the typical flat corn, though). Dessert- Choc IC, w/ PB and dark chocolate sauce served w/ a carmelized banana- excellent.

        Misses IMO- fried manchego, sauce was great but I think I'd rather just have the cheese unfried. The clams w/ chiles, lime, cilantro needed something else.

        Service was excellent in the dining room, would never have guessed that they had recently opened.

        1. k
          Kitamonster Feb 11, 2011 09:27 AM

          we paid $50 ea for the Living Social coupons - don't know what the usual cost is. The coupon said it was a $100 value, but who knows how they actually calculate.

          15 Replies
          1. re: Kitamonster
            s
            scotty27 Feb 11, 2011 01:38 PM

            Yikes. So is that $200 a couple plus tax and tip for a tasting menu? That seems like a lot.

            1. re: Kitamonster
              MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2011 03:02 PM

              The gist of that Living Social deal was $50 for a three-course meal at any of Schlow's places. Seems to me that Radius is the only place this might really be a noteworthy deal, and it's a good one if there are no restrictions on what you could order from apps, entrees, and desserts. It's unclear what the restrictions are. It would not be so hot if all you could use it on were some limited Restaurant Week style set of options.

              $50 in cash goes pretty far all by itself at Tico, Alta Strada, and even Via Matta (esp. the enoteca menu), and you can spend it on drinks if you like, which you can't do with the coupon.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              1. re: MC Slim JB
                m
                munchandcrunch Feb 12, 2011 05:05 AM

                We went on their second night open, and they have to get the kinks out. Server was friendly and unpretentious, however it was busy and it was slow. The music is way too loud, in fact it was the second loudest resturant I have eaten in, beaten only by a late night dinner rececently at TAO in NYC. I don't mind it on the bar side, which is big, but they need to turn it down a couple clicks on the dining room side. It feels like they are piping in fake energy, and they don't need to.

                The food is very good. Most of the Tapas are fish/veggie so unless you are ordering an entree, you will be in jepordy of leaving a bit on the hungry side. Everything was fresh, and there was a nice mix of spice texture. I did not see all the beef options the first review had on the menu. The wine list (I only look at the reds) was California, Spain, Chile and Argentina. I ordered an Argentinian that I am familiar with, and let me tell you they have a very healthy markup on their wines.

                I would have to guess that I don't have a VIP next to my name, as I saw the chef in the dining room a couple of times, but he certainly did not come to my table to guide my dinner choices, which I should add I did not expect nor should I.

                Over all, a good experience accounting for the recent opening, a good place if you dine with people you are comfortable sharing plates with. Not a romantic dinner out, not really for parents over the age of sixty.

                Our check for two, with tip was $140 with 2 drinks and a $34 bottle of wine so the prices are not unreasonable.

                Go ahead, give it a try.

                1. re: munchandcrunch
                  MC Slim JB Feb 12, 2011 08:51 AM

                  I've seen the wine list, and you're right: the markups are shocking. Some of the lower-end wines are 4 and 5 times retail, like a Panarroz Jumilla that retails for $8 on Tico's list for $38 or $40. Very few wines under $50. Not what I expected given the fairly casual level of the food.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    s
                    scotty27 Feb 12, 2011 12:49 PM

                    I had a reservation at Tico on 2/18 for 4 people, but after reading your posting and then "munchandcrunch"'s, I cancelled it. That's way too much $ for what I read on the menu. I spent last weekend 125-140 for meals at three pretty darn famous places; maybe Tico is worth it, but I'm not ready yet.

                  2. re: munchandcrunch
                    BostonZest Feb 12, 2011 12:09 PM

                    # Munchandcrunch--- Thanks for mentioning the sound level. That drops it 5 places on my list of new places to try. I have a very low tolerance for loud.

                    1. re: munchandcrunch
                      e
                      emilief Feb 12, 2011 01:11 PM

                      I don' understand the comment about parents over sixty. Most sixty year olds I know are reasonably youthful. And like Mexican food.

                      1. re: emilief
                        c
                        CookieLee Feb 13, 2011 07:59 AM

                        +1 emilief! As to the loud music, did you ask them to turn it down? If no one complains, they won't know it's a problem.

                        1. re: CookieLee
                          MC Slim JB Feb 13, 2011 08:02 AM

                          I think the music selection and volume is a conscious choice; I'd be surprised if they adjusted it at a place that size in response to one patron's complaint, or even many complaints. They want it to have a sort of nightclubby feel. It is, as they say, what it is.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            BostonZest Feb 13, 2011 04:37 PM

                            That is probably true. I'll try it once or at least go in the door. But I have great hearing and no tolerance for foreground music so it's likely I'll pass. I don't even take a seat any longer. If they have a different customer in mind that's fine with me. There are so many great places where I'm welcome, that I'll just go spend my money elsewhere.

                            But I will judge the noise level for myself before dismissing this or any other restaurant.

                            Penny
                            http://www.bostonzest.com/

                        2. re: emilief
                          m
                          munchandcrunch Feb 14, 2011 07:12 AM

                          Sorry to hurt your feelings, I should not have been age specific, but I was trying to be helpful. It was not the food that was the issue, but the noise. It detracted from the dining experience. And yes, I am sure there are some seventy year youngs out there that would thrive on dining among the din, but I think that most would not. I stand corrected and embarrassed if I offended your youthfulness. Perhaps it is that I am too cranky too early in my life.

                        3. re: munchandcrunch
                          s
                          southie Feb 14, 2011 01:13 AM

                          I was there on Sunday night. I was cautious regarding the noise level as I had remembered the CH warning. I am happy to report that perhaps the comment was heeded as I was not at all offended by the music volume. I asked my dining companions, as well, and they felt the volume was fine. SInce I was able to ask them and hear their response, all must be fine!

                          The food was great! I enjoyed everything. We had quite an array. Octopus, sweetbreads, fish tacos, tuna tartare, seared tuna, brussel sprouts...I think there were a few more dishes but I don't recall.

                          I have high hopes!

                        4. re: MC Slim JB
                          c
                          CambridgeFoodie Feb 14, 2011 08:20 AM

                          a pretty great deal - if the deal was for 3 courses, the OP received 12 courses.

                          1. re: CambridgeFoodie
                            k
                            Kitamonster Feb 14, 2011 08:29 AM

                            depends on how you do the math - you could look at it that each of the four of us had a three course meal, right? The desserts were the only ones where we each had our own plates. It definitely plenty of food but not the sort of thing where you kind of just want to slip into a coma after.

                            1. re: Kitamonster
                              c
                              CambridgeFoodie Feb 14, 2011 09:15 AM

                              Gotcha, I had assumed that each person received an individual tasting plate of each of the courses listed.

                      2. MC Slim JB Feb 11, 2011 06:32 AM

                        Schlow runs a pretty tight ship in the kitchen -- when he's on the premises. I hope he decides to devote a lot of time onsite at Tico. The menu there is long and ambitious.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        1. n
                          nasilemak Feb 11, 2011 06:31 AM

                          How much did the tasting menu cost?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nasilemak
                            s
                            scotty27 Feb 11, 2011 06:55 AM

                            Good question!

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