Cafe Artscience

650 East Kendall St.
Cambridge, MA 02142

Somehow, I turned 20 the other day, and my wonderful family line surprised me with dinner at Café Artscience. It was my first experience at a molecular gastronomy restaurant, where the food is crafted with attention to the technical interactions between different ingredients. Or, you could just think of it as a fancy restaurant with machines like centrifuges and rotary evaporators in its kitchen arsenal. The picture below is some kind of savory appetizer almond-cake contraption that they gave us (maybe because it was my birthday?). Although it was tiny, it was quite salty with a smoked salmon flavor.

The menu was split into four courses: cold appetizers, warm appetizers, entrees, and desserts. We went straight for the entrees, and I chose the Colorado Lamb Leg. It came out as a picturesque platter of lamb, house-made sausage, pistachios, boquerones (anchovies), artichokes, and broccoli. I was impressed with the array of flavors that surrounded the lamb, including the strong sauces that were artfully dabbled onto the dish. The pistachios provided a satisfying crunch next to the tender meats.

Amy tried the Roasted Giannone Farms Chicken, which came with Burgundian escargot, stinging nettle dumpling, and braised bacon. “I enjoyed the combination of the sauce that they used with the chicken and the vegetables in the dish,” she explained. “I really enjoyed the chicken because it wasn’t too dry.”

Anji’s beautiful entree was the special that included a porcelet (baby pig) shoulder and chop, with jalapeno and corn pudding, and vegetable accents. “The pork meatloaf was really tender and flavorful,” she explained. “The plate was beautifully arranged–I didn’t even know where to start! The saltiness of the pork was balanced out by the corn pudding.”

Annie ordered the Gulf of Maine Halibut, which came with “sea vegetables,” truffle butter, and bread crumbs. “It was tender and delicious!” she said. “The portions don’t look that big, but it was definitely enough to fill me up.” Since Annie is a year older than me, she was able to peruse the fancy drink menu, and was convinced by our waiter to order the Todd Collins Take 2. It came with a violet-infused ice cube that slowly melted over time, and Annie thoroughly enjoyed it, though she did say it was a bit sour.

When we informed our waiter that I was sadly only 20 years old, he asked for my “flavor profile” and told me that the bartenders could make me a non-alcoholic drink based on it. I did not come ready with a flavor profile for this restaurant, so I just sputtered, “Uh… fruity?” A few minutes later, I was presented with a blueberry lemonade! It was quite a refreshing way to celebrate the warmer weather.

For dessert, we shared the Violet Quatre Par Quatre, which included hazelnut nougatine, sparkling foam, blackberry ice cream, and a cookie-esque crumble. They also wrote me a nice message on my plate as a pleasant surprise! The entire dessert was an intricate mixture of smooth and crunchy, along with the combination of ultra-sweet and sour.

 

Lastly, Annie convinced us to try a “Whaf,” which was a vaporized “alcoholic drink” that we inhaled using a glass straw. The taste lasted for a few seconds as I gulped down my puff of nonalcoholic alcohol-flavored air. I didn’t get a picture of this, because, as Annie wisely put it, “How are you going to take a picture of air?” Also, for those of you wondering what I look like when I take pictures of my food, Amy caught an action shot of me, so here you go:

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Overall, I would certainly recommend this place for the experience and the service–the waiters and waitresses were immensely knowledgeable about the menu, and eager to guide us through our food journey. The food is beautiful, and it tastes as good as it looks. 9/10