Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Om, A Zen Dining Experience

When you walk into Om, you are immediately greeted with a soothing wall of water, which clearly indicates you're in for a unique experience. Add the swank lounge, the mood lighting behind the bar and the Tibetan murals created by the owner's father, and you'll forget you're in Harvard Square.

Om is the most inspired restaurant to hit the Boston area in a very long time. They have succeeded in excelling at all the most important elements of a great restaurant - inviting atmosphere, friendly staff and impeccable food (both in its stylish, artistic presentation and its wonderful, innovative flavor combinations).

In the downstairs lounge, hipsters sip fabulous cocktails created by star mixologist Clif Travers (formerly of Cuchi Cuchi) and snack on skewers and momos (Tibetan dumplings). Upstairs is a spacious dining area, as sophisticated as the menu creations developed by Chef Rachel Klein.

The creativity kicks off with the cocktails. Just when you thought nothing new could be done with cocktails, there's Bonnie & Clyde, a refreshing champagne, lemon and ginger cocktail featuring ginger essential oils, apparently a new trend in the libations arena. Definitely a dangerously delicious drink that goes down way too easily.

The fusion menu features several appetizers that are all "deconstructed" - several items paired together but plated separately or at least broken down into more visible components. Sounds sort of technical but the proof is in the plating and the tasting. It totally works.

Take the Hudson Valley Foie Gras. It has a heavenly portion of foie gras, accompanied by pecan pie, pickled muscat grapes, and micro mustard greens. It's an adventure combining the flavors and textures. The Torched Tuna Tartar (pictured above) features a line-up of palate pleasing elements including "torched" tartar (which has a tasty, crunchy creme brullée exterior), pine nuts, currants, pomegranate and ginger gelée. At the end of the plate is a hibiscus chaser - whimsical yet delicious.

Entrées get even more playful and adventurous. The Steak & Eggs (pictured left) is the signature dish. The name is not worthy of the dish it represents which is stellar. Look forward to grilled filet mignon with yukon potato purée, asparagus, fried truffle egg and bordelaise sauce. The fried truffle egg is the biggest surprise and most amazing egg you'll ever eat.

The Surf 'n Turf also has a name that undersells the dish. Enjoy grilled sliced yellow-fin tuna with clementine aioli and radish shavings, brown sugar glazed rutabaga and beef momos. This is not your typical surf 'n turf by a long shot.

The desserts continue to excite and intrigue. The most creative dessert plate is "Tea Time" with a white chocolate and Moroccan Mint Tea tart, Assam tea profiteroles, chai-spiced cake and a shot of earl grey bubble tea. One of the most beautiful dessert presentations I have ever seen (and as you can imagine, I have seen a lot of desserts in my day). The tea tart was the tastiest of all the treats but the bubble tea shot wins for whimsy.

Om is open every evening until 1am which offers a much-needed late-night dining option in Cambridge.

Om Restaurant/Lounge
57 JFK Street
(entrance on Winthrop Street - across from Upstairs on the Square)
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, 617.586.2800
Open daily at 5pm


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