With one night in the Boston area on our agenda, we reached out to fellow DINKs Lexi and Matt to see if a) they wanted to meet up and b) what their recommendations were. After a few ideas were shared, we ended on Tasting Counter, which is a particular favorite of one of our favorite couples. A nine-course meal at a 20 seat venue — what more could I ask for? Even before our arrival, I was impressed by the restaurant. On the website, the venue states, “Purchase Tickets Online & Leave Your Wallet At Home.” The idea that you’ve already paid for everything (food, drinks, and tip) and can simply show up and eat is a great one. I realize diners in Dubai would most likely scoff at having to do everything in advance (I heard just last night from another chef who was troubled by cancellations), however, as a visitor, I love the concept!
Even better? With only 20 guests, the meal is always going to be an intimate one. Diners have staggered starts for two seatings during the evening (we chose the later start at 8 PM, although both sessions take place in almost exactly two hours). Guests do not know how many courses they will have, or exactly what they will be eating as all of the dishes are based on what’s in season.
Things I love about the Tasting Counter?
- No food wastage! By limiting the number of diners, and having them pay up front, the restaurant knows precisely how much food is needed.
- Allowing guests to choose between wine, beer, or a sake alcohol package is an above average offer (most places only have a wine pairing).
- Pacing is perfect. While not rushed, the meal moves along at a decent clip. While I still love a four-hour degustation, economizing the pace allows diners to enjoy drinks or activities before or after.
- Working with local suppliers. While I realize this is usually the case at better restaurants in a city, at Tasting Counter, there is clearly a special relationship between the chefs and their suppliers. For a menu that relies so heavily on what’s in season, it’s imperative to have the right delivery system in place.
- Variations on a theme. If we went back now to Tasting Counter, just a month later, the menu would have already changed. Much like the ongoing adaptations at Dill, my congratulations to a team for working with what’s available and evolving dishes from week to week, or season to season.
- Not knowing what comes next. Personally, sometimes I find its fun to sit back and not know what direction the meal is going to take. The team at the Tasting Counter understand what they are doing (and excel at their delivery), so it’s best to just enjoy the ride.
Is there anything I would change?
- Honestly, my only recommendation would be to chill with the cherries. While this fruit was in season, I thought it was used a bit too often in our menu.
- The location is…random. It’s going to feel like you’re in the wrong place, but really, once you’re inside, it will all make sense. I promise.
Would I go back? Yes, definitely.
Who is the Tasting Counter best for? Honestly, this would be a great place to take someone for their first tasting menu/degustation. The team works so well together and the courses move so quickly, it’s a perfect venue to give a multi-course menu a try. Pro-tip? Ask for one of the corners to sit at if you’re in a party of four.
Have you been to Tasting Counter? Did you have any memorable dishes?
The team at the Tasting Counter deliver an original degustation. Put this venue on your list when visiting the Boston or Cambridge area.