Like everyone else, people who work in the food industry enjoy going out to eat on their night off. Unlike the rest of us, that night is typically Monday. So where do you go when the reason you’re free is the very reason almost everywhere is closed? You go to Metacom Kitchen.
Chef Richard Allaire, along with wife Sue, has always kept the restaurant open on Mondays, but the night never gained the same traction as a weekend. Initially hoping to attract industry clientele, Mystery Meal Monday was born. “I wanted to do something different, fun, and moderately priced,” Allaire said. A smaller, but equally adventurous, alternative to existing 6-10 course tastings was born. Allaire’s approach is both creative and practical, making use of molecular gastronomy with surprising results, to curate an experience certain to stray from the ordinary.
Inscrutable down to the drinks, my 322 Martini was revealed to be Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka, artfully mixed with fresh grapefruit, St. Germain, and Prosecco. The Crop kept it cucumber forward. The surprise in the aptly named Metacom Mule my friend received was pomegranate molasses. Its sweet and sour notes played well with the lime and ginger beer. Both served as a refreshing start to the adventure.
When my server asked if I had any food allergies or aversions, I requested no raw animal protein – I’m just not a tartare person. Though it broke my heart a little to limit Allaire’s creativity in any way, the server assured me that wouldn’t be a problem, and my FOMO was alleviated.
The appetizer was a deconstructed lobster tasting: A thoughtful interpretation of what many an Ocean State diner is already intimately familiar with. Arranged on a small slate rectangle, first was a cup of lobster bisque that captured the shellfish’s pure essence. While pleasantly seasoned, nothing was competing for the lobster’s attention. Pro tip: The exquisite-to-begin-with homemade sourdough that arrived with our drinks saw its full potential dipped into this bisque. Next was a fried Tempura Lobster Tail. I was happy the batter was thicker than a traditional tempura but lighter than a typical beer batter. The lobster’s inherent, delicate salinity was balanced by the crisp, well-seasoned batter. Tender spears of asparagus retained a light bite under the creamy, curry-like vadouvan sauce.
For my entree, chef Allaire presented Scallops with Shaved Zucchini. The char on the scallops gave the whole dish a fire-on-the-beach smokiness. The sharp acidic pop of the yuzu gel was balanced by a little togarashi (a Japanese table condiment) heat, and all sat atop a playful swirl of edamame gel. It is in these fusions of opposing flavors and techniques, that feel both new and familiar, where Allaire really shines.
Two of my favorite flavors were showcased in the dessert: Silky coconut panna cotta sat next to a shapely quenelle of creamy passionfruit ice cream, both resting on a bed of crispy vanilla crumble for added texture. The balancing act of these two textures together continued the theme of opposites, as did my friend’s choice of Lemongrass and Miso Creme Brulee, in which a delightful shatter gave way to a creamy custard where sweet and salty played perfectly together.
Now that we are increasingly free to “move about the cabin,” I encourage diners to ease back into the mystery of life with a visit to Metacom Kitchen. Let’s have someone masterful cook for us again.
Metacom Kitchen • 322 Metacom Avenue, Warren • 245-1193