Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tico, Back Bay, Boston

Michael Schlow opened Tico, a Mexican themed tapas spot (in its basest description) just about a year ago.  It opened around the same time as several other Mexican style restaurants but has been standing over many of those since opening.  It comes as no surprise really, Michael Schlow is no novice in te kitchen.  His other ventures, notably Radius and Via Matta have been garnering acclaim for years.  Last night was my first opportunity to check out Tico, and it didn't surprise me at all that each dish was unique and well thought out. In the true Tapas style, Tico's menu has a long list of small plates to choose from, encouraging diners to sample many dishes rather than being regulated to one or two.  My friend and I set out to find the standouts on the list.   We began with the tuna tartar, diced raw tuna gently mixed with Serrano peppers and xxx served with marinated spiced cucumbers and large taco chips.  The tuna was spot on.  Luxurious in its natural flavor but enhanced with spicy notes from the pepper and lime.  The cucumbers, a pleasant addition, added their own heat from their marinade with chili pepper flakes, brought a refreshing contrast to the dense fish.  As the first dish of the night, Tico showed heir ability to bring not only a well prepared dish, but their ability to incorporate heat in a pleasant way. Next to arrive at the table, lobster and avocado tacos.  Two ingredients listed and I was sold, what could be better than fresh succulent lobster paired with creamy avocado?  Apparently the addition of pickled onions and fresh cilantro could knock it up a level or two.  Every bite of this soft shell taco varied the taste palette between the sweet lobster, the fresh avocado, and spicy tangy onions.   My fork then found its way to the BBQ shrimp served under a small mountain of diced mango salad.  Halved shrimp sat in a little pool of sweet and spicy BBQ sauced, perfectly cooked and well seasoned.  The little heat that was present was broken up nicely by the fresh fruit creating a wonderful flavor and texture variation.    Next up shrimp avocado and bacon tacos-yup that happened.  While I enjoyed the more complete palate in the lobster tacos, these were definitely tasty.  Well cooked shrimp, more of that perfectly ripe avocado all combined with just enough smoky bacon to make its presence known without overpowering the other more delicate flavored.   Our last savory dish of the night was the one I would have overlooked-cheese and mushroom quesadillas topped with a black truffle dressing.  Crisp on the outside from their pan fry, their outer hell broke way to pillowy and gooey cheese stuffing, packed with tender mushrooms.  The truffle dressing didn't disappoint either lending just enough true truffle flavor to bring an incredibly luxurious vibe to an otherwise simple dish.  I loved the flavors here and even had a little difficulty remaining polite and not taking them all for myself. Somehow there was a little room left for dessert, and one we couldn't resist sharing was their "chocolate gelato peanut butter mousse over the top banana split".  Three scoops of chocolate gelato surrounded by a beautifully caramelized banana and swirls of peanut butter sauce, chocolate ganache and covered in crushed peanuts-this was an incredibly fun and playful dessert.   As Tico is "another Mexican spot" in town with so many others that fail to hit the mark, I had some reservations walking in.  Schlow more than surpassed my expectations by providing a diverse menu with food that was full of bright flavors, authentic seasonings and unique twists on the classics.  Tico joins a short list of truly delicious Mexican food in Boston!  


El said...

Great review. Thanks for the info- very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I recently tried Tico and after hearing so many rave reviews was a little disappointed. Half of the dishes I tried were amazing but the other half just weren't up to par. I must have caught them on an off night!

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