Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Technique : Cambridge

Technique is the restaurant run by students of the culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge.  And it was certainly an interesting experience dining there.  The space is a big rectangular box, with ceilings oh a good 15-18 feet high and where you have a wide open view of all of the stations of the kitchen.  Of all of the restaurants I've been to, (and perhaps for obvious reasons) this had the most open and collegial atmosphere.  We were encouraged to get up and watch the chefs in the back making the dishes and to ask questions of the the chefs and servers.

As for the food, I think it's more than fair to say that it's what you might expect of students' works.  It was nothing relevatory or innovative and I don't think I'd return again, but again it was interesting to gain perspective into what a culinary student goes through.

Brioche buns - They served brioche buns with butter. And we suspect it might either be the timing at which you get there or perhaps even the particular student making the bread, because our first round of brioches were overly dry, wheras our second tasted more like what they should ideally taste like.

Amuse bouche - This was probably the only dish that stood out, unfortunately poorly. Literally, this gave me the willies. It was like eating a creme of mushroom soup concentrate, chilled in jello form. I really appreciate the try, but I even tried this with the green on top and no go.

Lobster Johnny Cakes - Fresh New England White Cornmeal Johnny Cakes baked with Local Fresh Picked Lobster Meat and Concord Grape Sage Butter - Quite decent, lobster perhaps a bit overcooked, but on the whole, the johnny cakes were nice and moist and it was nice dipping them in the lobster sauce.

Roasted cod - Brick oven roasted cod with Israeli couscous, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and accompanied by a brandade crostini - It was clear that students were taught to use local ingredients, which is great to see.  The cherry tomatoes were absolutely lovely, bursting with flavor.  I thought the cod was a over-cooked and underflavored, but the crostini was an intriguing gradient of texture, ranging from crunchy toasty-like to pleasingly soft.

Duck Breast & Confit - Pan Seared Duck Breast and Slow Cooked Confit Leg with Farro Pilaf, Braised Endive and Sauce Bigarade - I didn't really think much of this, the duck not being tender or flavorful enough to leave much of any impression.

Creme Brulee - A recommendation from our server, who thought the chef making it that night was talented with the butane torch.  I definitely agree that the creme brulee had a rather satisfying crunch; the layer of caramelized sugar being thicker than I'm used to.   However, flavor wise, I thought the caramelized sugar taste ended up overwhelming the flavor of the custard.  I would have wanted a deeper layer of custard, so that the lighter delicate yin flavor of the custard would balance out the yang of the caramelized sugar.

Cheese plate - My gf and I both like cheese, so we're not going to complain about this.  Three distinct cheeses, all of which we enjoyed.  The unadorned hazelnuts perhaps were a little bit overpowering with the dry powdery texture and could have used something to have softened it, but that's a pretty small critique.

All in all, I will say that it was an interesting experience getting a glimpse into the life in culinary school, but it's one of those dining experiences that the customer needs to come with proper expectations.

215 First St Cambridge, MA 02142 (Map)
(617) 218-8088
($Boston, $New American)

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