Tico, Back Bay

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20120205-212918.jpgWhere: Tico – 222 Berkeley Street, Boston MA 02116
When: February, 2012

Saturday night I had plans to head down to Back Bay to hear a band that I wanted to check out for our company’s annual gala. I couldn’t see them until after 10pm so what’s a girl to do to kill a couple of hours? Fortunately, my colleague and one of her friends were up for a night out!

We started at Brasserie Jo for cocktails. I haven’t been there in years so it was really nice to see the space, it looks great as does the menu. I had a hard time catching the bartenders’ eye but once I did I got an espresso martini which was delicious. I couldn’t imagine getting anything but an espresso martini at Brasserie Jo for some reason, it just seemed to fit.

After a couple of drinks we headed to Tico for dinner. I had never been but it was on my list as one of my must go to restaurants for 2012. Tico was rated by Esquire as the best 2011 new restaurant in the US so I had high hopes.

We got there at 9 with a 9pm reservation and had to wait about 15 minutes to sit which was fine but the place was so crowded we weren’t able to get to the bar for a drink. While we waited I noticed the customer flair. There was the guy at the bar with dreads but then a table of girls who looked like they walked off the set of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I think I may have been the only one in there not wearing colored stilettos (not that I don’t want to). Eclectic. I can dig it.

We were seated close to the bar which was really loud and it was a little difficult to talk over the music.

We decided to order three small plates each to share (descriptions below photo):

Spicy Shrimp, bacon and avocado - The flavors were good and the shrimp were cooked very well. I could have used another shrimp or filler in each taco, they were a little skimpy.

Crispy Pork Belly, onion & mustard - These were amazing. To quote Carol, “If you like fat, you’ll like these”. Yes, I like fat and I like these. I loved the mustard sauce as well, just tangy enough to cut the fattiness of the pork.

Tuna Tartare Tostadas with lime, cilantro and serranos – I loved this. The tuna was really fresh and the tostadas crispy and salty. I’d get this again any day.

Crispy Fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce - I’m a Manchego fanatic so was really excited about this dish but, sadly, quickly found out that fried Manchego pretty much tastes like fried mozzarella. If there was a notable difference I’d have to say that the Manchego was drier and, dare I say, blander? There was nothing special about this dish unfortunately.

Sweet Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Thai Basil - Loved this. It was pretty spicy with the chiles but the sweetness of the corn and saltiness of the bacon balanced it out well. A keeper.

Grilled Octopus with Tiny Potatoes, Aji Amarillo and Panca - I’m drawn to octopus anytime I see it on the menu so was pretty excited about this. The octopus was cooked well and very smoky tasting which was a little different. The rest of the salad was fine but not particularly memorable.

Chorizo Risotto with pasilla chiles, scallion and parmigiano - Great risotto, nice and creamy with just the right amount of bite to it. But where was the chorizo!? The pieces were so small It was easy to forget it even came with chorizo. Get some big chunks in there.

Crispy honey-cayenne chicken wings – The chicken wings were sticky, sweet, spicy, succulent, and messy – just as wings should be.

Lobster Croquet with Aji Amarillo Sauce - I think I have mentioned this before but I’ll say it again – I love croquettes. They are fried and crispy and all soft and gooey in the center. This, essentially, was all that but sadly was not memorable in a good way. All I could really taste was what tasted like velveeta cheese. I couldn’t have been velveeta (is that stuff even still legal?) and I have no idea way it was but it was not tasty. Very disappointing.

Overall, the things I did love – the pork belly, tuna tartare, sweet corn, and risotto – were all amazingly delicious and I’d love to have them again but I’m not sure I’ll be making a trip back. It was really loud and half the dishes we got were just “ok”, if that. I’d like to know what the guys from Esquire got!

How did Tico measure up? 2.5 Spoons!

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