I joked with Jerry that he picked a theme for this month with “art” being in the name of the last two restaurants we have gone to, but Liquid Art and Cafe’ ArtScience couldn’t be more different! While Liquid Art focused on actual art on display, ArtScience was all about the art and science of the food.
The restaurant itself fits stealthily on a first floor of a business high-rise in the heart of the medical and science district in Cambridge – just around the corner from MIT. On their website ArtScience describes itself like this: “ArtScience is a cafe and culture lab committed to great casual drinks and dining alongside art, science, and design experiences that express audacious frontier dreams of tomorrow. ArtScience is a place and cultural movement where art experimentation and expression combines with science to pioneer a sustainable human future.” In other words, if you are a meat and potato type of person, this place is not for you. Everything about this place is creative and imaginative.
The restaurant is very sleek and modern. Molecule shaped lights hang from the ceiling and that honeycomb hexagon design is on the walls and there is a mirrored version that hovers over the bar. A glass wall divider is framed in white and made to look like a giant iPad. Even the bathroom is lab like with its white and stainless steel. Rather than piped in music there was some sort of science lecture being played.
This is definitely a place where the millennials go to gather after work. The bar was hopping this Friday at about 6:00 while the dining room was fairly quite until about 7:00.
We started with the drink menu. This menu is what I expected from liquid art. There was a list of 10 drinks. Each drink was named after an endangered species. The animals of the sky were the lighter drinks and the closer you got to earth the heavier the drink. I ordered the Tasmanian Devil (endangered since 2008). I wish I could tell you what was in it but the picture I took of the menu was too blurry. I remember something about dried cherries. It arrived at the table in a “IV” blood bag complete with the little plastic clip to close the “straw” which was actually a plastic tube. It was in a metal specimen bowl with dry ice so that it came smoking. It was so realistic looking, I was a little scared to drink it! I definitely felt like I was in a Twilight movie! Jerry ordered a Rhino which they were out of – really was extinct! Instead he got the Pika which was served in a something like a miso soup bowl. We both thought the drinks got better as we sipped them but weren’t anything we would order again. It was a fun experience. If you were looking for just a beer, they had 4 to choose from plus one hard cider. Of the four they had a lager, pale ale, porter and a pilsner all from small breweries. No Bud here. The wine list was a little larger and if you asked, they had a wine by the bottle menu.
The menu is set-up to be a four-course meal. The one page menu had four sections and each section had four options. The first was a cool appetizer. The second course was warm appetizers. The third course was your protein section and fourth was dessert. We decided to share the first and second courses. For our “cool” appetizer we opted for the Beef Tartare. It was prepared with preserved lemon, sun gold tomatoes and quail yolk. This dish was full of flavor and easy to share. It was served with freshly made potato chips that were much like Cape Cod potato chips only sliced thinner and waaaay better.
Next we shared the Fried Brussel Sprouts plated with aged cabbage (Side note – how do you age cabbage? Like cheese? I don’t know but it wasn’t half bad. I thought it was much like a pickled version without the punch of pickling), pickled mustard seeds (who knew this was something you pickled?), and black walnut. The Brussel sprouts were fresh, tiny and tender with some of the leaves crunchy from frying. The black walnuts added flavor and crunch. The mustard seeds tended to cluster (like molecules) and added a pickle flavor.
For our protein, I went for the Rib Eye mostly because the waitress told me the parmesan churros that were served with the steak were like Fritos only more amazing. I was intrigued. While they were good, I think our generation gap made them more amazing to her than to me. The dish was also served with golden marjoram and carrots. The steak was cook perfectly and seasoned just right. There was a bit of fat around one end and I would have like a little bigger piece to make up for the fat that needed to be cut out. Jerry opted for the Hake a tender white fish similar to cod. It was cooked and seasoned perfectly, so moist and flakey! It was served in a kombu dashi broth that tasted very similar to miso soup. Along with the fish was toasted purple barley and hakurei turnip. If I were to do it again, I think I would get this dish over mine, it was that good!
For dessert we had Ants on a Log. Remember when you were a kid and you had a snack of celery with peanut butter and raisins? This was their take on that. The log, which was actually shaped like a log, had two layers. The outer layer was a puree of celery, Granny Smith apple. That puree was wrapped around hazelnut ice-cream which might have had a bit of peanut butter too. They must have used a sushi roller to make this. It was plated with another dollop of hazelnut ice-cream. Sprinkled next to this was powdered peanut butter which reconstituted as the ice-cream melted. The plate was garnished with paper-thin slices of Granny Smith apple – so thin they curled, a paper-thin swirl of celery and was sprinkle with dried champagne grapes. This was an imaginative, light and delicious dessert.
We finished the night with an espresso and cappuccino that were worthy of any native Italian, really, really good!
Parking was easy with two garages within a block (no valet). I imagine, given the neighborhood, that during the day the garages would be packed but at night there was plenty of parking.
If you are up for an adventure in dining, I would highly recommend this experience. I would give it 4 out of 5 cheers!