Tasting Counter, Somerville, MA, 6/12/21

exterior of building

Tasting Counter is a dining room/kitchen experience for the diner.  A 9 course tasting menu is offered to all diners with optional wine pairings and vegetarian options.  Choices are made when you book your reservation, offered Thursday through Sunday at 5:00 and 7:30 pm.   The pre-paid tickets include the menu, beverages, service and tax.  The menu is a surprise but guests receive a copy with their Parting Morsels.  Chef Peter Ungár opened the restaurant in 2015 and is in the kitchen and makes all the explanations of the courses.  The restaurant is located in a building that houses a large brewery.  We sat at some of their extra tables while we waited for the doors to open.   Inside there were 12 of us at the counter but I read they can seat up to 20, so I suspect they were still trying to keep people spaced for Covid-19.  Inside it is fairly bright, music was in the background and the walls are decorated with preserving foods and wine bottles.   Pacing was excellent and portion control was great.

Facility

waiting area
wall outside with logo
reviews on the wall outside
sign
from the outside, grow lights on herbs
Frankie shared restaurant details
interior
interior
interior
wines
Frankie explored
counter set up

 

Menu

Welcoming Bites are the first to be served.  It included seaweed cured yellowtail amberjack belly topped with a green blueberry on a rice crisp; pickled mussel, preserved lemon, and sea urchin foam;  duck liver mousse and black chestnut parfait with hibiscus tart.  The pickled blueberry was a lot like a caper and was good with the fish and crisp cracker.  The mussel was delicious and wonderfully complimented by the sea urchin foam.  A little salt was underneath for perfection.  The hibiscus coating on the luscious liver and chestnut parfait was great.  A terrific bite with lots of flavor.

wet cloth to get ready
Welcoming bites – yellowtail amberjack belly, pickled mussel, duck liver mousse
closer

 

Red Sea Bream was on top of fermented celtuce with all on a black bean miso and accented with mandarinquat (a hybrid of mandarin and kumquat where all parts are edible).  This one had milder flavors that all worked very well together.  The fish was lovely and enhanced by the unique flavors of the other ingredients.

Red sea bream
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moved around

 

Razor clams were in a mix of green strawberry, cucumber custard, black lime and topped with salad burnet.  Their juice was used to make the vinaigrette that fermented the green strawberries which was then mixed with the cucumber sabayon.   Bits of lime punctuated the cream.  This was a wonderful combination with the cucumber being the strongest flavor.  The clams had a perfect chewiness left in them and a bit of salt from something added the final touch to a wonderfully flavorful and texture filled dish.

Razor clams
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A raviolo (single large parcel of filled pasta) was filled with rabbit meat and set on a mix of garlic scapes and tendrils surrounded by a broth of fermented spring dug parsnips and topped with pecorino pepato.  An egg yolk inside the raviolo added extra richness to the dish when you cut into it.  Good depth of flavor was from the amazing parsnip broth/puree and the pea tendrils and garlic scapes added wonderful texture.  The rabbit was flawlessly cooked and shredded encased in a perfectly cooked pasta wrapper.   This was a real winner.

Raviolo with Rabbit
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inside
Frankie found lots of foods

 

Black Sea Bass was plated with fava bean and biquinho pepper tartar, black radish, green tomato and smoked tomato.  The radish with seaweed jam was steamed in green tomato consomé and smoked tomato oil dotted the final plating.   A lot of things went into making this plate and the final product was worth it.  Another delicious course.

Chef Peter Ungár serving final step
Black sea bass
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Summer Flounder or Fluke was steamed and then brushed with charred miso and topped with enokitake mushrooms.  The frill of the fish was cooked with butter clams and then kohlrabi was cooked with white balsamic vinegar and herbs and all combined to make a wonderful sauce for the fish.   Parts of the fish were hard to cut but again it was a good blending of flavors.  The fried mushrooms were outstanding and really elevated the mild flavor palate of this dish.

Summer Flounder
closer
from the top

 

A palate cleanser drink made with Schisandra berries was accompanied by a cookie of pine nuts and almonds.  Some pine nuts were also in the drink.  Schisandra berries are supposed to be good for digestion and enhance the mood.   It may have done that but I really loved the cookie that was crisp and nutty with the sweet drink.  Yum x 2 for the cookie.

Schisandra berry
Schisandra berry
Frankie watched the action

 

The breast meat of pheasant was dusted with pistachios after being seared on the skin side and served with ramps, pea miso, lovage, and celery vinegar.  Lovage was decorated with pickled celery.  The leg meat was rolled up with pistachios.  Both meats were nicely moist and paired well with celery and pistachio.  A good crisp on the edge of the breast added texture as did the pistachios.

Pheasant
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Grilled wagyu sirloin flap was brined 12 hours in ancho chili sauce that was then used as dots on the plate.  The dish was further decorated with wild rapini chive blossoms that were fried to a crisp.   Braised turnip was on the plate and all sat on a sauce of sunchoke and horseradish.  The meat was cooked to a medium rare and went well with the horseradish seasoned sauce.  The fried blossoms were fun but I did not find the chili that spicy.

Grilled Wagyu Sirloin Flap
closer
turned to see turnip
Frankie found flowers

 

Olive oil frozen custard was in a sauce of burnt bay leaf oil and decorated with a rhubarb ring with some fermented rhubarb in the bottom.  The other seasonings included schisandra cream which was under the custard.  It all melded together nicely with a good accent from the crispy rhubarb ring.  This was a good one.

Olive oil and rhubarb
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Dark chocolate (70%) mousse cake was decorated with almond butter brittle and mandarinquat curd (yellow dots) alongside fermented red plum sorbet.   The chocolate is made for them locally and was quite good.  The contrast with the crisp sweet brittle was perfect with it.  A nice sweet fix here.

Preparations
Dark chocolate and fermented red plum sorbet
from the top
closer

 

Parting Morsels were presented with your copy of the menu.  A candy cap mushroom bonbon was on the left which was great.  In the middle was a fennel pollen madeleine which was nice but a less intense taste.   On the right was a peach and mezcal fruit chew dotted with black bean.  It did have an intense taste.

Parting morsels and menu
closer
menu
Chef Peter Ungár and Frankie

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