Feeling particularly giddy after learning how to properly prepare (and consume…) four delicious gin cocktails at the very well organized and fabulous Hendrick’s Gin tasting last week, I was feeling like a light bite to eat. The tasting was held in one of the private “classrooms” in the back of Catalyst Restaurant, located deep within M.I.T territory in Cambridge. The place has a pretty cool lounge area facing a fireplace, a big dining room with view of an open kitchen and a spacious bar between these two. My gin-ing companion and I sat at the bar to finish what was left of our punch and ordered the tuna tartar of the to-start list. The place also had a pretty decent bar snack menu (chicken wings, sandwich, pasta) and was standardly priced for Boston.
While this is definitely not the BEST t-tartar I have ever had, I did enjoy the creative addition of fresh jicama, a semi-sweet root vegetable, apple-like in texture especially popular in Mexico, which replaced the chopped red onion usually used to give the thing a fresh crunch. This had the affect of maintaining that necessary texture, but since jicama is significantly less spicy (flavorless in fact, if not marinated in a twang of citrus) the tuna was allowed the chance to shine ever more brightly… which it did. The fish was finely chopped to a great consistency, and was fresh and flavorful. A bit of cilantro was mixed in as well to give each bite a slightly acidic herbal tone. The tartar was served with a very lightly dressed frisee salad, alongside some lightly fried wontons skins. The latter functioned very well as airy spoons with which to pick up the cool fish, and provided the much-needed touch of oily fried flavor to an otherwise very fresh and raw bite.