Last Friday, I had my first pop-up restaurant experience at Whisk for a 5-course aphrodisiac tasting. A pop-up restaurant is one that does not have a permanent location. It is often run by young chefs who are learning the start-up business and operate in a private home or facility with a kitchen. Whisk pops up occasionally in bakeries, cafes, and most recently in a soup kitchen, all located in Boston.
The tasting theme was aphrodisiacs, in honor of Valentine’s Day. Although there was no amuse-bouche to start the meal, the chefs entertained the guests with a scrumptious, house-made white fig and pepita sourdough bread.
First course: Asparagus tartare, avocado mousse, strawberry onion chips, fried quail egg. I have tried steak tartare and tuna tartare before, but never have I tried a vegetable tartare. It was inventive and delicious. The strawberry chips looked like scattered rose petals – a very romantic presentation.
Second course: Oysters trio | fried oyster with saffron aioli, horseradish oyster fritter with tomato jam, and raw Island Creek with candy Meyer lemon mignonette. I am a big fan of oysters, raw or cooked. Each one was unique in taste. It was my first time trying an oyster fritter, which was different but enjoyable.
Third course: Seared salmon with walnut puree, pickled fennel, and pomegranate foam. I am always fascinated when chefs add a gastronomy aspect to their dishes, i.e. the edible foam on this plate that was tart and fruity.
Fourth course: Licorice ice cream with pistachio cake crumble and a balsamic reduction. What I love about this dish is all the different textures – liquid sauce, soft cake, creamy ice cream, and a crispy strawberry flake garnish.
Fifth course: White chocolate semifreddo, mango jam, honey caviar and strawberry paper. This course really showcased the chef’s pastry skills. I learned that the white chocolate molds took 7 hours to make! This final dessert course was a sweet ending to the meal.
In addition, there was cheese and petit fours, which typically accompany a tasting meal in between or at the end of the courses:
- Cubes of smoked Hudson cow’s milk cheese coated in bitter chocolate, smoked paprika, and smoked salt.
- Strawberry-glass covered chocolate truffles. I am still amazed with the brilliant concept of strawberry “glass,” similar to the hard caramel surface of crème brûlée.
- Chambord bon bons. Chocolate is the quintessential Valentine’s Day gift and I’m glad Whisk incorporated this treat on their menu.
I really enjoyed the tasting experience and was impressed with the overall execution. Each dish was flawless, creative, beautifully presented, and delicious. Whisk definitely set a high standard for any pop-ups that I will encounter in the future. I am already looking forward to my next visit!