I recently got invited to dine at the chef's counter at BOKX 109 in Newton, Mass. Every time I turn around, I hear about another restaurant in Newton and my list of Newton dining spots to check out is forever growing. BOKX 109 has been on that list for a long time, and I was happy to finally make it over there.
The restaurant, which is located inside Hotel Indigo, features imaginative spins on steakhouse staples and gets creative with New American cuisine (modern takes on traditional recipes).
I arrived at the hotel and found ample parking behind it. After a quick walk through the garage and a ride up the elevator, I was at the steakhouse. It has a lighter feel and warmer ambiance than most other steakhouses I've been to. I joined the other guests at the chef's counter, chatted with them and the chefs, and sipped on a sparkling rose with elderflower liqueur as we awaited dinner.
The creativity was apparent as soon as the chefs started preparing the first dish for us and we saw smoke wafting into the air. Sitting at the chef's counter really provided a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the dishes.
The first dish? The Smoke Show. Pear and mascarpone sacchetti with chive fondue and fruit mostarda. These little pasta purses balanced smoky with sweet. I have to admit I was a little hesitant after seeing all the smoke during the dish's preparation, but it just adds this subtle smokiness that gives the dish some interest. When the chef described the dish to us, he told us the fruit mostarda had 13 different fruits in it. I can't remember them all, but there were some unexpected ones like banana in there.
The next course was called Loading Dock Gardens and was a late-season fruit and vegetable salad with arugula, prosciutto, and burrata.
Also on the plate: cream of heirloom tomato soup with a balsamic reduction and crispy fried basil. As good as the salad was, my heart belongs to that soup.
The next course was the sesame tuna nacho with Sriracha sour cream, seaweed salad, a crispy wonton, and pickled ginger. I love tuna tartare and especially enjoyed this version with its contrasting creamy and crunchy textures and sweet and spicy flavors.
I got excited about the next course just watching it being cooked and assembled. One chef dropped the sheets of pasta into boiling water one by one, making sure to cook them just to the right texture, while the other chef garnished the plates and set lobster tentacles in each one for a fun presentation.
Course No. 4 was a free-form lobster ravioli. The pasta sheets were accompanied by sherry cream (a natural pairing for lobster), baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes, and basil foam. This dish was awesome -- my absolute favorite of the evening. The flavors, the textures, the lobster! Everything was spot on.
As we readied ourselves for the main course (that's right, the lobster ravioli was just a precursor to the main course), the chef brought out a giant white truffle, shavings from which he'd be using to garnish the next dish. We each got to smell the truffle; it was breathtaking.
Then we tucked into the main course: steak two ways with pommes puree, fried onions, creamed spinach, maitake mushrooms, bordelaise sauce, and of course those gorgeous, aromatic white truffle shavings. The creamed spinach was prepared more in the fashion of pesto so it wouldn't just sprawl all over the plate.
An intermezzo of cotton candy and apple cider sorbet tucked in lavender sugar was light and playful.
And it was followed by a rich dessert of chocolate souffle with tarragon-infused sabayon, plus blueberry and sparkling wine "soda" and passionfruit puree. I'm not a huge fan of tarragon, but it wasn't overpowering here, and it paired well with the chocolate souffle. The soda was refreshing and adorable in its miniature glass.
Sitting at the chef's counter was an awesome experience, giving me some insight into the cooking techniques and creativity to be found at BOKX 109. I enjoyed every course, loving that lobster ravioli most of all. I think I'll be trying the French onion soup on my next visit. It's described as having Gruyere ravioli and profiteroles. It sounds completely untraditional, but that seems to be what works at BOKX 109.
This meal was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.
Have you been to any great restaurants in Newton that I should try?