Tico, Boston, MA
So unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re new to this blog, or you just generally don’t care about the goings-on of my life, you know that a couple weeks ago I flew to Boston to help my cousin move into her dorm. While I was there I ate some delicious food at some delicious restaurants. I picked most of the restaurants we visited by cross-checking Urbanspoon and Yelp reviews with their location and menu offerings. It’s a very scientific process.
While I was up late one night on Twitter, I decided to try my luck and tweet at celebrity chef Mario Batali, asking him where to eat in Boston. I didn’t expect to get a response. BUT THEN I DID. Here’s proof.
We ended up eating at Tico on our final night in Boston, which might have been part of the problem. We’d had such amazing food the entire time we were there, so my expectations were really high. When we decided to go to Tico, I was really going only because Mario Batali told me to. I didn’t really know that it was a Tapas restaurant until we got there. I’ve never had Tapas before, but here’s what I discovered. You’re basically paying for a full meal, but only getting appetizers. Odds are, you’re not going to leave feeling very full.
When we first walked in, it was dark. Like really dark. Like, we had to use our phones to be able to see the menus. I’m all about ambience, but that’s getting a little ridiculous. We also were sitting for about 10 minutes before I went up and asked the hostess if someone could bring us some water, since we hadn’t seen anyone who worked there since the hostess sat us. Mind you, this was a Tuesday night. It was not busy.
There were four of us, and the waiter (when he finally showed up) suggested that we order 2-3 things a person. Mind you, these “little plates” ranged from $6 to $14 a plate. Or you could do a chef’s tasting for $35, $55, or $85 a person, depending on how hungry you are. Thank god they bring you free bread, or we might have starved. We started with the two-textured beef with morita chiles taco. The tacos came on 6-inch corn tortillas and there were two of them, so we cut them each in half so all four of us could try everything. I really liked it, but Tina hated it. Also, it was very, very spicy. I thought it had a good texture and a good flavor, even if it did burn the tastebuds off of my tongue.
We also got the lobster and avocado tacos, which everyone seemed to love. These were also a bit spicy, but not as bad as the beef ones. I liked these as well, but I’m not sure 2 6-inch tacos were worth $12.
From there we ordered off of the “a la plancha” section of the menu. We got meatballs with smoky tomato and chicken with spicy pomegranate. The meatballs were served in a sweet sauce, that Tina absolutely hated. I didn’t mind them, but they tasted a lot like the meatballs you get out of the freezer section of Sam’s Club when you’re planning your Superbowl Party. They didn’t taste homemade at all.
The chicken was good, but it really just tasted like bite-sized pieces of grilled chicken. The pomegranate sauce was delicious, and that’s what made it stand out. But without the sauce, the chicken was just… chicken.
From there we moved onto the Small Plates. We ordered the Tico’s Mac and Cheese with serrano ham and crunchy bread crumbs. I don’t usually like macaroni and cheese with anything fancy, especially ham (since I hate ham). But I actually loved this. Uncle Greg thought it was a bit watery, but that was fine because it meant more for me.
Next we ordered chorizo risotto with pasilla chiles, scallion and parmigiano. For me, chorizo is pretty hit or miss. Some places do it really well, but most places miss the mark. I liked this pretty ok. Tina hated it, but she also hates chorizo, so. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but it was pretty ok.
After the risotto we ordered the crispy fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce, which was pretty popular on Yelp. It was a pretty unanimous favorite of the table. Basically it was a fried cheese stick with pomegranate dipping sauce. They came out hot and crunchy, and the cheese was ooey and gooey. I would definitely recommend ordering this if you ever end up at Tico.
Another favorite was the sweet corn with bacon, chiles and Thai Basil. It came out nice and warm and tasted like it had been cooked with the bacon, very smoky and delicious. I love any vegetable that tastes like bacon. The corn was cooked perfectly. It was crisp and delicious, and I wish I knew how to make this, because it’s amazing.
Finally the roasted cauliflower with creamy chipotle and crushed, crunchy Fava Beans. Cauliflower isn’t my favorite, but this wasn’t bad. I know Uncle Greg liked it, but I can’t remember Tina’s thoughts. I think we both just thought it was just ok.
Our waiter asked if we wanted dessert, but they really didn’t have anything special on the menu. I mean, chocolate cake is a dime a dozen. We ended up going to Ben and Jerry’s for an ice cream instead, and it was a much better value.
Basically, Tico would be a great spot for a first date. It’s very romantic and the food is good for having conversation, since you’re just snacking. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I’ll take a little hole-in-the-wall place that serves amazing food, over a trendy, ambience-heavy restaurant every day of the week.
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116