Our last stop in the Boston round of the Great Cross-Country Barcrawl was Clio. Located in the Eliot Hotel on Commonweatlh, Clio and the Bar @ Clio (which also serves Uni Sashimi Bar) are an intimate, upscale, fabulous dining and drinking experience. Clio was actually the only place we went on the entire coast-to-coast extravaganza where I did not enter the bar. But Maggi deserved a dinner free of the constant cocktail chatter we engaged in to this point on the trip. So of course I spent the dinner with nose buried in the fabulous cocktail menu and pestering our waiter instead of the bartender….
The dining room is a small affair, with elegant table settings and soft, contemporary decor. The atmosphere is quiet and graceful, but not stuffy. Our waiter was friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to serve, but exuded none of that obnoxious, extravagant grovelling that mars many a truly upscale room. More on him later.
The menu is very interesting and changes daily. It is a bit nouvelle cuisine, with some molecular gastronmic elements thrown in. I get my guard up a bit when I first visit a restaurant with a menu like this. But since Chef Ken Oringer demonstrates through the results that his aim is pleasing your palate rather than demonstrating his magnificence, the food was delicious and approachable.
We went with the smaller of the two tasting menus offered each evening. May I suggest that you definitely go that way yourself if you visit. The offerings were delicious and made a very cogent progression through the whole meal.
The really surprising dish that stood out in both our minds was the tomato water martini. There was no alcohol in it, and it served as a soup course. It consisted of the most amazingly clear, but rich tomato water with a bit of basil oil drizzled on the surface. Instead of an olive, there was a nearly identical-looking caperberry and a sprinkling of chopped jicama for garnish. To the side was a tiny lollypop of frozen tomato pulp, from that left over making the water I guess.
I have no idea how they made tomato water this clear, but it has definitely rekindled my interest in perfecting the Plasma Mary.
The cocktail menu at Clio is 32 pages long. Several are lists of the extensive spirit selection they offer, but most are collections of cocktails. There is a huge Tiki section, including a whole page of Dr. Funk variations. There is a page of molecular mixology experiments. The largest section is gin drinks, with most of the greats contained therein, with a notable omission…. Get with the program, Todd. There’s even a nice glossary in the back, and the phrase, “Yeah, we’re fired up about booze.”
The last words in the cocktail menu are, “If you find this menu… keep it.” While admitting nothing, I may have found a copy in my jacket pocket after we left the restaurant. For the cocktail aficionado, perusing this menu is almost as much fun as I imagine it was to write it.
As a last note, several of the offerings on the cocktail menu are usually available only Monday-Thursday, such as the Ramos Gin Fizz. We visited on a Saturday, and I ordered one before I read the restriction. But our waiter insisted on doing the leg, er, armwork himself, and I got the best RGF I had on the entire barcrawl. I’m really hoping I left a big enough tip.
Clio is a wonderful, though not cheap, dining and drinking experience. I can heartily recommend it.
This review is part of my larger Great Cross-Country Bar Crawl series. Here is the main post for our Boston stop, with links to all reviews for the city.