Any restaurant that has a special section of the menu devoted to offal holds a special place in my heart. And there were few items on the KO Prime menu that didn’t look good, so when we went there for dinner on a recent Friday night, I had a little trouble zeroing in on my dinner. Fortunately, when in doubt I order more.
To start, my dad and I shared the following four appetizers:
Baekoffe of alsatian tripe, lamb and chorizo stew, and gnocchi
Bone marrow with blood orange salad and beef tongue marmalade
Calves’ brains quiche with pancetta hazelnuts and fiddleheads
Seared foie gras with french green lentils and quince
We followed the appetizers up with a porterhouse for two with a side of the frites with ricotta salata and rosemary, and creamy spinach with Wisconsin mascarpone (due to my discomfort with flash photography in nicer places, cell phone pics are all we have)
I liked but didn’t love the appetizers. The baekoffe was the best of the bunch. Flavorful and hearty, this is the perfect winter dish. The foie gras was good, but forgettable. The brains and the bone marrow were also tasty, but they were overpowered by the rest of their respective dishes. The quiche tasted predominantly of whatever cheese was included, and it just so happens that the texture of a quiche is remarkably similar to the texture of brains, rendering the brains difficult to identify altogether. I understand that brains aren’t going to be flying out of the freezers in a Boston restaurant, and that this is a good entry level brains dish for the initially squeamish, but for those who have had a brain or two in their day, this dish will disappoint. You simply won’t know they are there. Similarly, the bone marrow was upstaged by the delicious but potent tongue marmalade. Even the blood orange might be too powerful a flavor for bone marrow. Again, what I was left with was a tasty dish, but one that tasted nothing like bone marrow. I am beginning to believe I will never find a better bone marrow dish than the St. John’s version – parsley salad, sea salt, toast. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect (much like St. John’s in general. The world’s greatest restaurant. There, I said it. I would kill to have it in Boston. Lots of people. Like, plunder and pillage and raze suburban towns).
Returning to KO Prime, the porterhouse was delightful – perfectly cooked (rare), presented nicely, and certainly more than enough for two. It went very well with the crispy and salty rosemary frites and the creamed spinach. Indeed, everyone at the table (group of 6) enjoyed their meals, which included a foie gras burger, cassoulet, and some sort of mystery fish. The desserts were hit or miss: Liz loved her coconut sorbet with roasted pineapple, but I ended up with a dry brownie topped with an artificial-cherry-spattered scoop of vanilla ice cream. Despite the somewhat steep prices (as you can see from the menu above), I would happily go back to KO Prime for all the food I missed the first time around (short rib mac and cheese? come on). Ken Oringer is creeping his way up my list of favorite chefs in Boston – it makes me want to try his taqueria La Verdad. If nothing else, I dig the song on the website.