I am not shy to admit it- I love steak. I could never, in a million years, be a vegetarian. It is not in the cards for me. I have tried to eat less meat, but I can't do it. Steak is a love of mine-right up there with chocolate and cheese...and if I'm really going to be honest- it probably wins out more times than not. So when I was invited to a Steakcation dinner at KO Prime I immediately said yes. Steak at a much talked about steakhouse that I haven't yet had the opportunity to go to? Is there any question?
KO Prime is located within the chic Nine Zero hotel in the heart of downtown Boston on Tremont Street. The really wonderful part of the location is that it looks out over the old Granary Burying ground, home of the final resting place of Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. The haunting, historic nature of the view is beautifully contrasted with the minimalistic and modern decor of the restaurant. Together the feel of the restaurant is a beautiful combination of old and new wrapped into sophisticated elegance. The food, created by Chef Ken Oringer and Executive Chef Josh Buehler, falls right in line.
We began our culinary journey last night with an Amuse Bouche of Squash Blossoms, stuffed with a Crab Rangoon type of filling, deep fried and served with duck sauce. I have always had a love of squash blossoms and remember them to be one of my mothers favorites as well. Because of this, I have associated them with primarily Italian cooking, and was excited to try them in a more Asian inspired creation. I have to say- those squash blossoms are good no matter what! The Crab Rangoon filling was rich with creamy cheese, and had just a hint of spice that was so nicely mellowed with the sweet plum sauce. The blossoms themselves were perfectly fried to crispy deliciousness. The batter used resulted in a crust that was light and airy enough to not over power the delicate nature of the flower, but simply added a wonderful texture variation.
The first actual course was an Heirloom Tomato Salad, beautifully layered tomatoes of varying colors, with a lovely side of Manouri cheese, lightly crisped and then all accented with a peach and apricot aioli. I started with the tomatoes which were earthy sweet, and a perfect reminder of the wonderful flavors of Massachusetts in the summer. I was actually unaware of Manouri cheese, and so had to do some quick research on it- it is a Greek style cheese, semi soft and made with whey either from Goat or Sheep's milk. They had crisped just the outside of this cheese which made for another great texture variance. I also loved the tanginess of the cheese combined with the simply sweet tomatoes. The aioli, lightly flavored with the fragrant fruits was the perfect relief from the other flavors and added a really special element to the dish. I also spied just a few strands of Saffron in over the top of the gorgeous tomatoes- a wonderful touch.
We then moved on to a roasted Jalapeno Beef Tartare that was topped with a beautifully crisped quail egg, with a black bean, corn and Poblano pepper jam. Beef Tartare is one of those wonderful dishes to me, that just screams decadence. The beef chopped finely and combined with the different spices and oils results in a creamy consistency, and when combined with a beautifully runny egg yolk...just delicious and ever so creamy. The jam was lovely as well, warm flavors, roasted to a gorgeous smokey flavor with an ever so slight background of sweetness to round it all out. This dish was perfection, with exact flavors, textural intricacies and visual intrigue.
Our next course was a Fricassee of Escargot with pureed carrots, mushrooms, lardons and a healthy wedge of brioche. This was my first time having Escargot in a non traditional preparation. Whenever I've had them in the past they have been served with plenty of garlic and butter. Here they were paired with much different flavors with a rich and velvety carrot puree that was so beautifully sweet and was gorgeous with the robust escargot. I have to point out the beauty of the presentation of this dish as well, as you can see the photo- it was the little touches not forgotten here, and the chef dressed up what could have been a rather monochromatic dish with a gorgeous single flower petal. The contrast was striking.
Next we were served a perfectly cooked Stripped Sea Bass with a summer succotash, Cockles, and a house made chorizo. I fell in love with this dish! The Bass was beautiful- clean and perfect with a gorgeous crispy skin. If this were a movie, the Succotash would not be forgotten and would absolutely be up for Best Supporting Actor. Every vegetable and bean was perfect- beautifully cooked, maintaining their gorgeous colors, and together with the chorizo the dish had fantastic spice to it. I eat FAR too many spicy things and this had really nice heat, but wasn't over powering either. Absolutely delicious.
Just in time for a quick break, the chef served us a little palate cleanser of Apricot soda with an Yuzu-Mint creme fraiche foam. This looked beautiful, and did a perfect job of gearing up our taste buds for the next course. The soda itself was slightly bitter, but when combined with the foam it was a rounded taste. Beyond that, it looked like a perfect fountain drink with the foam- it made me long for my days of scooping ice cream -trying to achieve foam like that!
polenta cake, stewed olives and tomatoes, pickled ramps and a beautiful smear of Harissa. The pork had been dressed with a dry rub that gave the pork a really lovely flavor that somehow reminded me of Christmas Ham. The steak....oh the steak. Perfectly cooked, well seasoned....amazing. I loved the accompaniments as well, though I felt to some degree that the olives over powered the tomatoes a bit which was a bit disappointing. I happen to love olives though, so it wasn't really so bad :-). The Harissa was also delicious, though sweeter than it was spicy. Again though, the flavor was amazing and after the Bass dish, I didn't miss the heat.
After cleaning my plate...again...we were greeted with another palate cleanser- this time pineapple sorbet with a passion fruit dressing. Light, with real pieces of pineapple, and deliciously sweet with the passion fruit. After enjoying just a couple of bites of this, I was armed and ready for dessert.
Of course, I wasn't at all disappointed in the dessert which was a dark chocolate Marquis cake served with buttery popcorn flavored ice cream and a decadent caramel sauce. Oh that cake- a beautiful combination of mousse and cake and glaze...incredibly decadent and rich but absolutely amazing with each layer of cake a different texture. The relief of the ice cream was perfect, though unfortunately my palate didn't pick up on the idea of buttered popcorn from the flavor, but rather a end note nuttiness. Either way- it was delicious. Finally, the addition of caramel was perfect, and tied the whole dish together, especially with a gorgeous piece of caramel corn sitting atop the chocolate cake. The presentation was beautiful and the dish was delicious. The perfect end to the meal.
Of course once we thought we were done, they sent out beautiful cookies as well. I stole just one- a chocolate sandwich cookie with a raspberry cream inside. Perfectly executed.
Chef Buehler made an amazing tasting journey of dishes last night. In each his creativity and playfulness with food was evident, and each was perfectly executed. This was a perfect meal that I am thrilled that I was able to be a part of. KO Prime will absolutely join my list of "special occasion" restaurants, a place I hope to return to soon, I would love more of that succotash...perhaps with some of their lovely steak as well. And finally, a sincere thank you to all for an incredible evening!