Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Frogs and Snails and AKA Bistro in Lincoln

After a day spent exploring the sculpture park and museum at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum I always need a meal. And picnicking on the grounds of the Park makes for a lovely choice when the weather is perfect and I have time to actually create said picnic. The next option is their cafe which is inside and air conditioned.
But for days that you want to notch the whole visit with children up a level, or those precious afternoons that one is sans children, a meal at AKA Bistro can just be the right way to reflect on the art that you have seen.
I had previously tried Chef Chung's cooking when he was the sushi chef at Uni at the Elliot Hotel in Boston. So I was thrilled to be invited to visit AKA Bistro, the new restaurant that he opened with Christian Touche in Lincoln, just down the road from the DeCordova Museum. The menu offers the opportunity to enjoy sushi or French bistro fare...or both, as we did.
We began with a twist on a dish that I remembered fondly from my previous Uni visit: Rock shrimp tempura with XO sauce aioli, fried shallots and prosciutto dust. These were as ethereally light as I recalled, and as addictive. The prosciutto "dust" was almost unidentifiable, but salty and rich at the same time.
The Chef then sent over another dish from the sushi menu: Hawaiian poke (yellowfin tuna), served with scallions, sesame seeds, hijiki and pickled mung beans. The fish was tender and delightful. The next time I go I will make sure to try the Kindai toro, a special low mercury tuna that had not yet been delivered on this visit.
I appreciated the Chef's transformation of a Thai green papaya salad. Here, this refreshing dish was served with huge poached shrimp, matchsticks of carrots and green papaya, sitting in a cool and spicy mango-chili broth. At $12.00 it was a perfect lunch time option.

One of the unique features of AKA Bistro is their children's menu. I can easily recite the menu that you find at most places: chicken nuggets, hot dogs, hamburgers and a grilled cheese. Now, while I can assure you that my 4 year old would be most pleased with these options, my two year old continues to make it clear that he would often more readily enjoy sushi or French Camembert or chana masala than another burger. And at AKA, they offer, yes, Provencal tart, frog's legs and escargot. On the children's menu! (Don't worry, they also offer the hamburger, mac and cheese or grilled cheese options.)
Now, here I will note two things. I have never tried escargot or frog's legs...and I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to. But I did. And, the escargot were quite delicious. They tasted like mussels swarming in heady garlic butter. As for the frog's legs...Well, my sister in law aptly noted that they tasted like monkfish. The sauces that came with them were delicious-both a broccoli and a garlic puree.
But, quite honestly, I just couldn't have more than one bite. I had hit my food limits and the fact that they looked so, well, froggy, didn't help! (Perhaps I had read, Frog and Toad are Friends one too many times.) Though my two year old wasn't with me at the time, I could actually see him enjoying this, as Christian Touche did as a child.
We ended with a total indulgence: marrow bones. Now I admit that it is ironic that I would happily spoon gelatinous melted fat from a bone on my bread, while avoiding the amphibian in front of me, but such are the contradictions of those of us who love to eat. And these bones would make me happy any winter, especially if I had done some long walking on the grounds of the museum.

There is so much more to the AKA Bistro (terrines and tarts and charcuterie and duck salad), and I promise to post again after returning.

AKA Bistro, 145 Lincoln Road, Lincoln, 781-259-9920

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