Uni Sashimi Bar - Just Awful! (long)
We had a reservation at Rendezvous last night, but decided we were in the mood for fish or sushi instead. Tired of all the usual options, we opted to sit at the sushi bar at Uni. Despite dining out quite often, with sushi being a preferred cuisine, we had only been to Uni once before despite having lived across the street for nearly a decade.
The bonus was that out sitter was arriving early, so we had time to have some drinks at the Clio bar first. I will be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of the craft cocktail movement or the culture that comes with it. However, Todd is one bartender that really makes it enjoyable and accessible. The gin gimlet he mixed up last night was easily the best one I have ever had, and safe to say clarified lime juice passes the I couldn’t make it myself test. We should have just stayed at the bar and drank our dinner.
Uni, like many other sushi restaurants, is somewhere it is pointless to sit at the sushi bar, as you have virtually no interaction with the sushi chefs. I prefer ordering, or at least consulting with the chef on the menu. There are two fixed menu options, Omakase or Sashimi Platter. We asked our waitress for clarification, telling her we would normally order Omakase at a sushi restaurant; but were not interested in anything from the traditional kitchen such as wagyu or fried chicken, preferring fresh fish instead. She told us that the Chef’s Choice Sashimi platter came out all once, where the Omakase came out course by course and could certainly accommodate a fish centric menu. We opted for the Omakase, which I think was $115/pp and settled in with anticipation.
The timing of the meal was absolutely terrible. It took nearly three hours for 10 courses (2 of which were desserts). Some courses arrived immediately on top of one another, and there were gaps as long as 25 minutes between courses during which time the waitress couldn’t be found to order more sake. The Clio/Uni line has always been blurred to the detriment of both restaurants. The two sushi chefs were working to get apps to the bar and tasting menu courses to the dining room, in addition to the sushi bar and tables at Uni. At an expensive Omakase, I expect the sushi chef to be focused on the content and pace of my meal for an overall experience. I don’t mind sitting there for 3 hours, but you better blow my head back course after course. Unfortunately the food was unremarkable, with the theme being fish overdressed to the point of masking the flavor and poor menu variety.
• The tired tomato water starter was the same palate cleanser served the last time I had the tasting at Clio. The pork belly croutons are good at lease. This course should be an amuse IMO, NOT one of the Omakase courses.
• Maine oysters were delicious and a generous portion at 2 per person. However, I can go to New Deal, pick up a dozen Pemaquids, shuck them with the liquor preserved and enjoy them more than the fancied up oysters at Uni. I did appreciate their use of an east coast oyster rather than the requisite Kumamoto oysters served at many high end Japanese restaurants.
• The fish that we were so looking forward to consisted of 4 (four!) courses of different white fish, and one scallop course. I am happy to break out of the tuna, salmon rut; but no uni, no toro (which beautifully teased us in the case the entire meal), nothing exciting at all? Nope, just 4 courses of various white fish which tasted increasingly familiar one after the other. If I order Omakase, I expect a variety of the best the chef has available. We just felt like no care was taken in planning our meal and it was in fact a rip off. Though the portions were generous, the cloying dressings almost completely masked the taste of the fish.
• The beautiful scallops were swimming in infused butter – blech. It would be much better to serve them with some sea salt and simple acid.
• There was a watermelon salad thrown in among the fish course that was pretty tasty. However it was a bummer that the watermelon salad and tomato broth accounted for 20% of our Omakase menu.
• Only one of the deserts was memorable; an overly complicated mango and coconut ice cream/foam disaster that went largely untouched.
We honestly almost just handed the waitress our credit card before the last dessert was served just to put an end to the meal and get back up to the bar where Todd could help us forget. Hopefully he moves onto greener pastures soon, as Clio/Uni is just really tired and overpriced at this point.
Our bill came to $300+ before tip, including two $35 bottles of sake, which were barely cold when served to the point we requested an ice bucket. If you like ultra fresh fish that is simply and expertly prepared to showcase the taste of the fish, you can skip Uni. I would be MUCH happier with a $15 lunch box from Oishii Chestnut Hill. I haven’t felt this gouged by a meal in quite some time.
Why were you there? From the sound of things, it sounds like the dinner wasn't bad; it just wasn't to your taste. I had the same mango/coffee/coconut dessert and loved it- an interesting take on some overused flavors. I appreciated that we were exposed to some Japanese white fish we had never tasted before rather than served more of the same. What makes you think that wasn't the best or most interesting fish the chef had to serve? Uni will only buy bluefin if they can get it local (when I was there they had some that was line caught in Maine) so yes, you're not going to get the same toro/otoro/chutoro you get at many other sashimi bars in town on the omokase every night.
As can reasonably be inferred from my post, we were there looking for top quality fish prepared in a way that emphasized the flavors of the seafood. We didn't go with the intention of dropping $350 and 3 hours of my life on a meal we knew we would not like, just so I could write a bad review today while my daughter was napping...honest!
To be clear, the service and food were indeed quite sub par, as well as not being to our taste. If what we were served was the best they had to offer that is shameful.
I don't recall coffee in the mango mess dessert we were served, so perhaps it was a variation.
so sorry you had that dreadful experience. just deflates you. we had a parallel evening of disappointing food (nothing Wow except the desert amuse)with friends at Clio in May.
Unimpressive service, including a (new) GM; room so loud none of us could hear the others; non-stop burnt sugar fumes from the bar. and did i mention the food? plates that seemed to be all about "5 tiny garnishes of fish skin, black lime,and other exotics" and not about the deliciousness of the entree, plus flavorless sides. major sighs all 'round.Resolved to not return.
Guess we missed the pinnacle, whenever that was.......(not the 3 times we've been, over the years.)
While I am pleased they expanded the bar, and that is the only element I would return to patronize, there was definitely a lot of sugar being torched while we were there, so I can see your point. If you are sitting down trying to enjoy a tasting menu or a fine dining meal in the Clio dining room, the scents from the Uni and the bar certainly could be off putting.
Thanks for the review. Perhaps they were "saving" the "premium" items like toro and uni for a higher price bracket omakase? Unfortunately that just proves your point about how expensive they are for what you get. The days when they would serve more interesting items like pico rocco or uni w/ nori croquant and wasabi apple foam are sadly long gone.