I was invited last week to a very special evening of dining and conversation with about a dozen other bloggers and food writers at KO Prime. The event, dubbed STEAKCATION, was intended to showcase some of the non-beef selections offered at the restaurant, which is basically known as an upscale steak house, as well as the skill and craft of Chef Josh Buehler. Chef Buehler often slips under the radar on the Boston scene and maintains a refreshingly low profile persona. He is quite comfortable, it seems, to not be a celebrity chef. His food, however, is clearly star quality. We enjoyed a sumptious nine course tasting menu which I will go through in detail, explaining the ingredients many diners may not be familiar with.
The first taste was a Squash Blossom Crab Rangoon with duck sauce. You may recall last week when Chef Paul Wahlberg treated us to a similar dish. Blossoms are in season and the dish has found it's way onto many local menus. This version was excellent.
Next up was an Heirloom Tomato Salad. It featured crispy Manouri cheese, tomato-basil vinaigrette with peach and apricot aioli. The tomato and cheese combination is classic and hard to beat and the sweet aioli added a fine contrast.
Manouri cheese is a Greek, semi-soft white whey cheese similar to feta but much creamier. The golden touch added, again, a nice contrast.
Course three was a Roasted Jalapeno Beef Tartare. This included smoked poblano jam and and a crispy quail egg.
I've written before how one of my favorite condiments is the Stonewall Kitchen's Farm House Chutney. This jam was similar, with more heat and smoke. Very nice.
The poached then fried egg is another new trend and I loved that it was done here with a tiny quail egg. Chef Jacky Robert made this for us last week, as well, but I liked the quail egg, smaller with a perfectly runny yolk.
Next was Fricassee of Escargot. It included thumbellina carrots, mushrooms, salsify, lardons and brioche. I love escargots and they are actually hard to find on local menus so this was a rare treat. Lardons are excessively flavorful, tiny cubes of pork fat, the stuff that gives bacon it's distinctive taste. Nice touch.
The brioche added to the presentation. I need more good brioche in my life.
We then enjoyed a Seared Striped Bass dish served atop summer succotash, cockles and homemade chorizo. Succotash has both Native American and Southern roots. In it's most simple form it's boiled lima beans and corn kernels with butter and cream. A cockle is basically a very small salt water clam. The dish packs a wallop of taste bud sensation due largely to the strong, rich striped bass. Great selection of accompaniments, though, to balance the flavors.
This Apricot Soda with a yuzu-mint crème fraiche foam was a perfect follow-up to clear the palate after the briny sea bass and cockles. I love apricots and apricot nectar. Yuzu is a fairly rare Japanese citrus fruit. I have to say that this was one of my favorite tastes and a great selection for the menu.
Next was Pork and Beef Duet. Dry rubbed pork loin, stewed olives and tomatoes, chantarelle polenta cake, grilled flat iron steak, pickled ramps and harissa were included on the plate. Aaron of @eatboston, who sat to my left, raved about the polenta as the pork melted in my mouth. Ramps, which are basically wild leeks, and the harissa, a hot chili sauce typically found in Tunisia and North Africa added to the complex layer of the meaty match.
The pineapple sorbet was excellent in both presentation and taste and, again, a good choice to cut the saltiness of the last dish.
Last was the Dark Chocolate Marquis. Served with a buttery popcorn ice cream, caramel sauce and a popcorn toffee topping, it was the perfect ending to a fine meal. The Marquis cake is actually a mousse made with double cream, amaretto and chocolate, not baked. We thought we we were all chocolated out after judging that TasteTV chocolate recently but this was amazing and I loved the popcorn idea. Comforting and refined at the same time.
After a cup of coffee we all left, stuffed and anxious to get back and write about the experience. Thank you Josh, Nicole and everyone for a flawless evening of dining and fun.
90 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108
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