Back in November 2013 I made my first trip to Tavern Road. Over the course of that decadent meal I remember being so impressed by chef/owner Louis DiBiccari's passion and curiosity when it comes to food.
Last summer, I went back to Tavern Road for a Brazilian cocktail class (timed with the opening day of the World Cup). The booze fueled session took place in Tavern Road's takeout space called TR Street Foods.
TR Street Foods is attached to the main dining room, but is only open during lunch. The menu, as the name suggests, is inspired by street foods from around the world.
This month, chef Louis decided to bring his love of street food into the main dining room and has created a dinner menu called the TR Street Foods Takeover. The best part? It has a cocktail menu to go with it.
Last week I headed down Congress Street with extra pep in my step, knowing this exotic menu was just minutes away (it may have also been the Sean Paul Pandora station blasting through my headphones).
There were three of us at the dinner table and once we were seated, our waitress arrived with a cocktail menu for each of us.
The cocktail menu is divided into two sections, Street Merchants and Backstreet Boys. For all my fellow BSB fans, I had to snap a pic.
For my first drink, I decided on the Aqua Teen Super Fresh (which I kept wanting to call the Aqua Teen Hunger Force). It was avua cachaca (Brazilian liquor), lemon juice, cucumber, mint and bitters, garnished with one perfectly green cucumber slice. I loved the spring hue of the drink.
Ooooooo, was that drink strong! I had to sip it slowly as I felt myself getting more light headed with every swig.
With drinks in hand, it was time to peruse the new menu. The TR Street Foods Takeover menu has three columns - vegetable, fish and meat. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was to discover not just one or two veggie choices, but an entire list!
Since I was dining with two fellow vegetarians, we decided to go for broke on the whole "vegetable" column.
The first dish we shared was the chickpea frites with spicy tomato jam. The frites reminded me, texture-wise, of polenta fries. The tomato jam had a great kick to it that added a fiery punch with every dunk.
The eggplant and goat cheese fritters were next, served with a side of smoked tomato sauce for dipping. I took one bite and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. These were to die for.
The combination of the crispy shell, the soft, rich inside and then the smokey flavor from the tomato sauce was a total home run.
Our third dish was the parsnip and potato pierogies, topped with a pistachio gremolata. The presentation of this dish was beautiful. The pairing of the crunchy pistachios with the warm pierogi, was absolutely perfect. I tasted lemon with every bite, but the other girls told me I was nuts (no pun intended).
Adding some greenery to our feast was the grilled asparagus with sumac hummus and sesame seeds. To be honest, I had never thought about putting asparagus and hummus together, but let me tell you, they make one delicious combo.
Of course we could not resist the burrata. When I see burrata cheese on a menu, I have to have it. Chef Louis' preparation includes fried bread, fennel mostarda and nuts.
I took a bite of all the components together, and I immediately knew the fried bread came from a loaf of dark rye. When I was growing up, we always used to eat corned beef and mustard on dark rye at my grandma's house. I was taken back to those lunches with every forkful. I also kept wondering, why have I never thought to fry bread and put it on cheese before?
At this point, we were starting to get full, but we had to forge ahead.
Next to arrive was the white sweet potato samosas. They were garnished with walnuts (one on each pouch) and tamarind sauce.
Our whole table agreed that the samosas were too doughy and had a very muted flavor.
Rather than waste calories on the samosas, we moved on to the fried cauliflower with grapes, peanuts and charred scallions. When I read grapes would be part of this dish I was skeptical, but their flavor and texture did pair unexpectedly well.
This dish was a bit discombobulated for me, including its presentation. Of all the plates we were served, this was the only one in a cardboard cup. Though it definitely had an authentic street food feel, the disposable cup seemed out of place compared to the presentation and care of the other dishes.
Our final savory dish was the pissaladiere (a word I had never seen before in my life) topped with mushrooms, taleggio cheese, olives and mint. The pissaladiere was like a pizza, but on a much lighter, flakier crust. It also came plated on a piece of tree trunk, which was clearly a nod to the earthy flavor of the mushrooms.
The flavor of this pizza-like dish was overpowered by the mushrooms. You could smell them the minute the plate landed on the table. The olives also upped the salt taste of the dish and for me, it was a bit too much.
After ordering pretty much every vegetable dish on the menu, it was time to transition into dessert mode. I ordered a fresh drink, this time I went with the batida. I actually learned to make this drink in the Tavern Road cocktail class, so I already knew it would be delicious.
The ice cubes were dusted with cocoa, which I think I'll do from now on to all the drinks I make at home.
As an homage to all the coconut flavored ingredients in the drink, it comes served in a plastic coconut. I felt like I was on a tropical island getaway.
Now, for the undisputed best dish of the night - the milk and cookies. This dessert is two heavenly chocolate cookies sandwiching milk flavored ice cream and topped with hazelnut crumble.
The milk ice cream tasted like the milk in the bottom of your cereal bowl after a breakfast of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The cookies were too hard to cut with a knife (we tried) but tasted amazing when you bit right into them. I fully intend to come back to Tavern Road just for these sandwiches. In fact, if I lived in the neighborhood, I'd be there every night.
For the grand finale, we all shared the Mexican sundae. Though it's tough to see in this photo, the ice cream is sitting on top of a churro! Why have I never thought to put churros under my ice cream?
The sundae was made of spicy chocolate ice cream, smoked caramel, cocoa nib florentine and of course, the churros. For me, nothing could top the milk and cookies. However, if you like Mexican chocolate, you'll devour this.
At this point I was stuffed, on a sugar high and totally drunk. Three characteristics of an epic night.
The TR Street Foods menu made me want to corral all my friends and plan a night for us to order our way through this entire menu. I love that even though this is a special menu, it's enormous, with choices for every palette. The street food inspiration makes for adventurous dishes that are unlike anything else you can order in a Boston restaurant right now.
Head over to Tavern Road to experience the TR Street Foods menu for yourself. Be sure to wear elastic waist paints and have your Uber app at the ready.