Jamaica Plain, which wasn’t known for fine dining when I moved to the neighborhood in 1998, is getting pretty cluttered with upscale restaurants, but Whisk Boston could be a welcome addition.
Whisk Boston, billed as a “dessert bar and bistro” and housed in Fiori’s Bakery on South Street, “popped up” for a trial run of its eight-course tasting menu, January 26-28. They had seatings at 7 pm and 9pm each of the three nights, but Michelle and I could only get a reservation for 9pm on Saturday. Past our normal dinner hour, but, hey, someone had to make the sacrifice.
Whisk didn’t distribute menus, so I felt a lovely sense of anticipation before each of the eight small plates was served. From the opening taste of scallop to the final dollop of chocolate mousse, each plate was beautifully composed, with as many as five or six elements. Chef/owner Philip Kruta has cooked at L’Espalier and is clearly in tune with the latest dining trends, from microgreens to pearls of honey “caviar.”
I enjoyed each plate, but my favorite dish was a delicious ravioli stuffed with chestnut, although I also enjoyed a hearty slice of tofu “steak.” The later item was a vegetarian alternative to the pork belly that Michelle was served. I was impressed that the kitchen had prepared vegetarian options for all of the meat and seafood dishes, and that the quality was so good. Other plates featured squash, mussels, a beautiful potato and asparagus terrine (the meat eaters got NY Strip Steak with fingerling potatoes), and a Greek yogurt “sweet/savory transition” to dessert.
The service and ambience did not measure up to the food. It was really cold in the place until we got to plate six or seven, when they finally seemed to turn on the heat. Service was friendly, but slow and disorganized. We didn’t know it was BYOB and were disappointed not to be able to buy wine, although we were charmed to be offered a complimentary small glass. Michelle had to show our waitress how to use the type of corkscrew that was available to open another table’s bottle. I’m assuming, however, that these were all opening wrinkles that will be fixed.
Having dined at Alinea Restaurant, Grant Achatz’s “theatre of eating,” in Chicago last year, Michelle and I have experienced the ultimate in this style of dramatic, artistic, creative tasting menus. While Whisk has not yet reached that level of excellence, I was delighted by the flavors, the creativity, and the enthusiasm of the chefs. Not to mention that we only paid $10 each!
Jamaica Plain’s response to this opening weekend was so good that Whisk’s blog announced that they decided to continue the tasting menu every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. While the price will undoubtedly go up, I look forward to my next taste.