BOSTON – Most galleries would tell you the best way to view their artwork is from behind a velvet rope. Ruta Laukien would say it’s with cocktail in your hand, which is why she created Liquid Art House in Boston’s Back Bay.
“Really it started with my love for the art. I wanted to bring it into an approachable environment, part of an everyday environment of drinking, eating, looking at the art instead of it being sterile, something that you stare at on the wall.”
When you first walk into this gallery-eatery hybrid, you may need a moment to catch your breath. With 25-foot ceilings, a massive blown-glass chandelier, and exhibits on either side, it’s truly a feast for the eyes. For the right price, anything could be yours, from a funky throw pillow to a painting fit for a feature wall.
Unlike most working galleries, Liquid Art House is all about fun and hospitality. Just ask Executive Chef Rachel Klein.
“It’s pretty intense the first time you walk in, but we are Liquid Art House. We don’t want to come across as a pretentious art space. We do consider it a home. I just want people to like the space and love the food.
“To me, food is like the purest form of art. It’s not just on a canvas; it’s an edible canvas. It’s smell; it’s sight; you can even hear it. You can touch it.”
From the flavors, to the presentation, each dish served by Chef Rachel and Chef de Cuisine Stacey Cogswell is nothing short of a masterpiece.
For comfortable, shareable eats, the menu offers a housemade German pretzel perfect for dipping in tangy mustard butter, and bright scallion pancakes stuffed with duck confit, radish and cilantro.
“They’re bright green, but you want everything green once the weather turns nice,” said Stacey. ”It’s like a nice little crunch, warm, cold, all these things going on. It’s really delicious.”
The true star of the bar menu is the LAH burger which boasts an all-beef patty topped with comte’ cheese, pickles, onions and tomato confit served on a homemade milk bun.
“It’s one of those type of burgers where you take a bite, and you just kind of melt into wherever you are, and you’re like, ‘Ohh. So good,'” Stacey said.
“It’s definitely a burger on steroids,” continued Rachel. “And I think our fries are some of the best fries in the city.”
If you want a meal that’s a bit more manicured, head into the dining room, where the plates are so pretty, you almost feel bad eating them. There’s Berkshire pork over English peas, pickled honeydew, King trumpet mushrooms, and fresh mint; and local scallops alongside parsnip puree, grapefruit and chamomile sauce.
“The scallop dish I would describe as very unxious and elegant. The scallops are super fresh, and they’re briny, sea sweet,” described Stacey.
For a taste that’s a little more homey, order from the dumpling section, inspired by Ruta’s childhood in Lithuania.
“I grew up on it,” she said. “My grandmother made it; my mom made it, and Rachel took the traditional recipe and made it a little more modern and less rustic.”
These dumplings are far from Peking Ravioli. They’re more like gnocchi, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture and irresistible flavor, like decadent cheese dumplings served with mushrooms and porcini cream, and beautiful beet and caviar dumplings finished with sour cream and dill.
“We roast beets, puree beats and then dehydrate the beets,” Stacey explained. “So it’s quite a process, but the flavor and color that you get in these beets is so impressive.”
As for desserts, nothing pairs with a post-dinner cocktail like the ultra-artistic Bird’s Nest featuring apricots, stout beer and parsnip ice cream atop a bed of crunchy Greek pastry. But if a cup of coffee is more your speed, order a plate of mini doughnuts drizzled with chocolate mocha sauce and served alongside a scoop of white coffee ice cream.
“Our coffee ice cream, I can tell you now, is amazing,” boasted Chef Rachel. “The flavor is super bright and really rich, clean coffee flavor. And that’s one of our classic desserts.”
Not everything at Liquid Art House is a classic. Actually, this place is all about change, and when the artwork changes, so does the food. The one thing that remains constant, however, is the restaurant’s founding philosophy.
“I always believe you have to follow your passion,” Ruta said. “I sat down and tried to think what I’m passionate about, and it was art, food, wine and travel, And I said, ‘how do I put it all into one?’ And here we are. It’s Liquid Art House.”
You can find Liquid Art House at 100 Arlington Street in Boston, and online at liquidarthouse.com.
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