Mostly because I have an important message to share with local foodies: run - don't walk - over to Boston's North End and experience the city's latest dining pop-up, Whisk Boston, before it closes sometime in September.
For the uninitiated, pop-up restaurants are temporary operations that "pop up" in private homes, retail locations, or other available space so that [usually] new chefs can test out a concept without making a huge investment in a permanent space. They are typically small, allowing for fewer staff and more frequent menu changes than in a traditional restaurant.
Whisk has popped up in the Volle Nolle space at 351 Hanover Street (conveniently closed while its own chef is on vacation) after occupying spaces in Cambridge and Jamaica Plain previously (all to rave reviews). I actually hadn't been to Volle Nolle before, and was pleasantly surprised by the chic decor - white subway tiles, rustic woods, low lighting, punched-tin ceiling and chalk board menus. Plus, a wall of wine bottles. Very Napa-esque.
But the highlight of the place is the tiny kitchen manned by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta. Kean serves as Executive Chef, having previously worked in the kitchens at Aquitaine, Garden at the Cellar, and Rialto (all excellent in their own right) while Kruta honed his pastry skills at L'Espalier. Together, they deliver an eclectic mix of savory & sweet delicacies in a choice of three-, five-, or seven-course tasting menus ($45/$65/$75) with optional wine pairings (ranging from Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cider with the main courses to White Port and Moscato with desserts).
I visited Whisk twice this month (!), at first opting for the five-course with wine pairing which was so good that I went back a week later for the seven-course. The chefs bring something totally different to Boston's Little Italy: non-Italian cuisine for starters. While using French cooking techniques, they rely on local, seasonal ingredients to develop the menu (which changes weekly). Also, each plate at Whisk is a work of art, with all of the ingredients - and their presentation - carefully selected to create an experience. And Kean presents many of the courses himself, eager to explain his dishes and solicit feedback from guests.
Both meals started with a delicious date, thyme, and lemon bread baked fresh on the premises, accompanied by a miso butter. The first night proceeded as follows (all course were great but dish #1 was my favorite!):
And the second night (where I think the gnocchi and filet tartare were my favorites):
Phew! I'm full just reliving it all. But it is so worth a visit. Check out past menus, sign up for their mailing list or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest. If you plan to go, reservations are recommended.
And as an aside, Whisk partners with the Transitional Employment Program at Haley House, a local nonprofit that helps people who were previously incarcerated transition back into society through work experience.