Finally — A Real Art House Where You Can Eat
The past few years has seen an increase in the number of “art houses” that also double as “food houses”. However, there’s a problem with most of them. It appears that for the most part, they are just restaurants outfitted with art installations and interesting fixtures. One goes to these places for food, first and foremost. The art is just an afterthought. At the worst, the art in these places is just something that just happens to be in the same place where the people eat.
When I was in Boston, however, there was one place that broke this mold. Its name was enough to be intriguing — “Liquid Art House”. Located at the landmark Arlington Building, L.A.H is truly something unique.
Something for the eyes…
The first thing that one realizes upon entering the place is the precedence of art over everything. The whole place is soaked in the idea of art. Not the pretentious, toursity art that one sees in other places. The place has a genuine feel to it — from the graffiti-style art behind the bar, to the art installations on the walls, to the choice and arrangements of the furniture. The area was spacious and well-lit, the better to appreciate the eye-candy.
There is also a well-received sense of balance at L.A.H. The place is neither too “modern”, nor too “clean” for anyone’s tastes. The clean lines of the chairs are balanced with the ornate and organic-looking chandelier above the bar. All the metal and plastic are balanced with the wood-like accents on the walls and the brown shade of the floor. The entire space is also well-balanced, with places for the eyes to land either high up or down low. L.A.H really has the feel of a museum, albeit where one can dine. Its gallery even has its very own curator!
And that’s not even even counting the beautiful art pieces, all of which are for sale. Liquid Art House engages all sorts of artists, whether prolifics names or those just starting out. The exhibits also have a balance of local and international origins. The exhibits are rotated every months, to give other artists a chance. It’s a spectacular concept, and one that has been executed perfectly.
… And for your tummy!
But what about the food? Ah, that’s another point of interest, just as exciting as the art on the walls. One would think that with all the focus on the art, the menu would endure some cutbacks. Instead, the customer is presented with an outstanding array of dishes. The menu also changes depending on the season. When I went there, they were already moving to the fall menu. Non-meat eaters as well as vegetarians can also have their fill. The menu also offers kid’s meals, as well as sides.
Delicious dumplings were some of the staple foods at L.A.H. But what we had on top of those were far more worthy of a feast. First was the tuna tartare with rice pudding, which was served just as artfully as the decors around us. It had creamy avocado mousse, too. Then there’s the watermelon salad, with just a hint of Thai flavors (mainly because of the basil). I didn’t think I would enjoy watermelon salad the way I did that day. I really loved the unique taste created by chef Johnny Sheehan, with all the flavors popping inside my mouth.
We also had our take with seafoods. There’s the delectable seared scallops, as well as the Schezuan whole lobster. Lobster is actually a staple food in Boston, so it is just fitting that they have their own (really good) version of it.
Finally — for the main course, at least — there’s the duck confit and the seared foie gras. The latter has honey pulled pork, which was really a treat. The flavors were well-balanced, and it obviously takes a genius to come up with such a mix.
Art in the Dessert and Cocktails
Aside from the artful array of dessert options, one thing that really stands out is the fact that they all go well together. By this, I mean you do not have to observe any particular order in eating the desert. I really loved it, and it served as the perfect punctuation for a good meal.
Another interesting point in the menu is their array of specialty cocktails. From a pickle-spiked bloody mary to a martini relished with candied Buddha’s hand citron, L.A.H. cocktails are as inventive as they get. As for me, my must-try is the one playfully named “Don’t Pop My Bubble”. You have to try this for your life! It’s a crisp and flavorful cocktail made of peach vodka, lychee, and of course, bubbles. Then there’s the Blueberry Bible, which plays a close second.
Indeed, the bar has been cited by numerous patrons as one of the best parts of the L.A.H. experience. For the non-drinkers, they have a selection of other beverages such as freshly-squeezed juices, tea, frappes, smoothies, and milk shakes.
Of course, the food serves is just as artsy as the rest of the place. And remember when I said that every art piece on the wall is for sale? I was surprised to find out that the dinnerware is for sale, too!
Liquid Art House Particulars
The place was founded by investment banker and businesswoman Ruta Laukien of Lithuania. The kitchen is helmed by chef Johnny, and pastry chef Ryan. Liquid Art House’s uniqueness owes to the founder’s vision of creating an “art hospitality” experience for its customers.
Granted, the place isn’t really meant for your everyday dining needs. The menu is priced at the upper-midrange segment, with food items ranging from $31 to $50. The food portions, while enough for a good dinner, won’t satiate the very hungry folks. But you get what you pay for in terms of experience, and if your eyes need as much satiation as your tummy, then this is a place you should really consider.
The place is open from 5PM every Monday to Saturday. On weekends, Liquid Art House has brunch every 11AM to 3PM.
If ever you drop by Boston’s Arlington Street, be sure to check out Liquid Art House. It’s something really in a class that is all its own.