Gala Food Spectacular
The Top 25 Restaurants
At first glance, it's a little tough to reconcile the image of Robert Fathman as the rebel chef, garbed in his leather jacket astride his motorcycle, with the tranquil dining room at Azure in the Lenox Hotel. But it doesn't take long before Fathman's playful personality shines through in dishes like fennel-crusted rare tuna or veal (humanely raised — a trend we hope will catch on) scaloppine. Clearly Fathman is good at taking risks — which means dining at Azure never requires taking a risk of your own. 61 Exeter St., Boston, 617-933-4800.
Of Barbara Lynch's two South End projects, B&G Oysters has created the most waves since opening 16 months ago. Surrounded by a stainless-steel-and-marble bar, David Reynoso and the kitchen staff churn out near-perfect lobster rolls, and, of course, a daily selection of oysters from local waters and beyond. Seats are still packed nightly — a feat plenty of Boston restaurants have trouble achieving. 550 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-0550.
In introducing Wellesley to fusion cuisine, Ming Tsai may have created a monster. Diners can't get enough of Blue Ginger. Tsai's Eastern and Western influences collide and dazzle — there's the garlic-black pepper lobster in the shell and the grilled, rare tuna atop crunchy somen. Even at its most crowded, the dining room, bathed in blues, feels as calming as a koi pond. If you haven't been in yet, now's the time. It's well on its way to becoming a classic. 583 Washington St., Wellesley, 781-283-5790.
Laura Brennan's impressive menu of classics shines not thanks to gymnastics or fanfare, but for its simplicity and proper preparation — rare attributes that show in big plates of housemade charcuterie (her mousse with pickled walnuts alone elevates the lowly chicken liver to new status) and pork loin stuffed with Armagnac-soaked prunes, pistachios, and pork sausage. It's all served by a hardworking waitstaff in a decidedly refined, brick-walled bistro setting. 1395 Washington St., Boston, 617-867-0707.
Not for nothing is Ken Oringer well established in these parts as a chef and restaurateur to be reckoned with. His cuisine at Clio is a rare balance of precision and thoughtfulness countered with true flavors and textures that excite the senses. He's not afraid to employ exotic ingredients, but with a restraint and balance we're grateful for (witness his nothing-short-of-succulent roasted Muscovy duck and confit). Oringer also has the smarts to surround himself with a talented team — from pastry chef Alex Stupak and wine director Erin O'Shea to the first-class fleet of servers — that shares his philosophy of artful adventure. Eliot Hotel, 370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200.
Craigie Street Bistrot
Chef Tony Maws has managed to do what no other has done before him in the subterranean restaurant space that's home to his adorable, petit French bistro: survive and thrive. Maybe it's the chef's devotion to market-fresh ingredients, slow cooking, and fair pricing that has devotees lining up to taste his cooking. Or it could be the kitchen's chile-marinated hangar steak. But we think it's the poached pear dessert, doused in caramel sauce and accompanied by sassafras sorbet. It put a recent dinner here at the top of any we've had in years. Anywhere. 5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, 617-497-5511.
In a room reminiscent of an oversized aquarium, it's not surprising to find fish everywhere — on the shimmering back wall, suspended above diners' heads, and, of course, on the menu. Jeremy Sewall whips up a superlative clam chowder (redolent of smoky bacon and salty-sweet clams) and rolls out catches like salmon over chickpeas and curry. But even given all that (plus cheerful service, a lively crowd, and an admirable wine list), one of the best things here has nothing to do with the sea: The butterscotch pudding, rich in toffee flavor, is simply a revelation. Hotel Commonwealth, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300.
Grill 23 & Bar
Who says steakhouses have to mean cookie-cutter dining? Grill 23 begs — and compels us — to differ, with its gleaming and marbled interior, educated and sharp service, international wine list, and beyond-the-staples menu. Sure, you can find a classic filet au poivre (succulent to its core) and a porterhouse that would make Fred Flintstone weep with joy. But alongside the usual suspects are welcome additions like truffled tater tots and sweet little endings such as sticky toffee pudding. Make no mistake: The favorite is back on top. 161 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-542-2255.
Like the river valley in Afghanistan for which it's named, the Helmand brims with elements foreign to many Bostonians — air perfumed with heady spices, elegant decorations from the region, and a roster of intensely flavored specialties. And yet, from the moment they're seated in this often-crowded dining room, diners are made to feel immediately at home. The affable staff is patient in explaining dishes like the creamy kaddo borawni (pumpkin purée cooked with garlic). It's an ideal dinner for both carnivores (the lamb tenderloin is outstanding) and vegetarians — aushak , a handmade pasta filled with smooth leek stuffing, has earned a small cult following. 143 First St., Cambridge, 617-492-4646.
Tucked below street level in the South End, Icarus has been feeding the finicky South End hordes with aplomb since 1978. Chefs Chris Douglass and Ron Abell work overtime to coax every last bit of flavor from dishes like sweet and toasty polenta topped with braised wild mushrooms (local, of course). Naturally, such dedication has built a fiercely loyal clientele. They return time and again — not only for the great food, but for the seamless service and the quiet dining room. 3 Appleton St., Boston, 617-426-1790.
No. 9 Park
The precision with which the kitchen at No. 9 Park executes every dish, from petit greens to crispy duck au pamplemousse (that's grapefruit to you), proves that
Barbara Lynch has hit her stride. Loved for its low-key style, the six-year-old
No. 9 has made an indelible mark on Beacon Hill. Lynch's fluffy gnocchi, wrapped around tangy prunes draped with foie gras, expertly mix sweet and salty. Were it not for the other 24 top-notch restaurants in town, we'd be contentedly eating off Lynch's menu until next January. 9 Park St., Boston, 617-742-9991.
Oishii reminds bicoastal sushi lovers of the spectacular spots in L.A.'s Studio City where menus aren't necessary because the very best orders are flown in fresh and are simply scrawled up on the specials board at the last minute. Take that cue at Oishii, and you'll be rewarded with plates of buttery baby hamachi scattered with slivered jalapeño. Or maybe a “shot” of sea urchin and quail egg revved up. The perfunctory room is snug, with lines for lunch and dinner. But service is swift, so you'll only be staying long enough to down some of the East Coast's most transcendent raw fish. 612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill, 617-277-7888.
Sure, hummus and falafel were part of our culinary vocabulary even before Ana Sortun opened the doors to her cozy yet comely restaurant three years ago. But these days, thanks to her, we also find ourselves happily using words like harissa and basturma — and, even more happily, eating the actual foodstuffs. Sortun consistently tickles our tastebuds with creatively tweaked dishes from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean (like the tile-roasted cod with cabbage dolma, black truffles, and egg-lemon sauce). She's a chef who truly cares about the ingredients, how they were prepared, and who is eating them. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-661-0505.
Go ahead: Call it an upscale chain. You wouldn't be the first, and you wouldn't be wrong. But let's give it some credit, too; after years of refining its menu and ironing out any wrinkles, the original Olives is going perfectly strong. The tuna tartare — sweet, fresh, and gorgeously set with chilly cucumber — is still a must-eat, and the room, all wrought iron and glowing lighting, is as up-to-date as ever. Clearly someone's doing something right. So call it a chain if you must. Just be sure to also call it good. 10 City Sq., Charlestown, 617-242-1999.
Can we take a moment to applaud the talents of Michael Schlow? With a book due out this spring, three restaurants under his thumb, and a passion for simply cooked food, the man is a powerhouse. Radius, meanwhile, remains at the top of its game. Packed most nights, the circular dining room is understated — out of deference, perhaps, to attention-
grabbing dishes such as skate wing with black truffles. Schlow and business partner Christopher Myers have raised the bar on Boston dining — in large part thanks to the superior standards Radius has set. 8 High St., Boston, 617-426-1234.
Truth be told, we don't miss the old Café Louis much at all, thanks to chef Pino Maffeo's innovative, Asian-influenced creations at the Cafe's successor, Restaurant L. The menu showcases dishes made with local ingredients and exotic accents. Maffeo's wok-roasted lobster with spicy Thai coconut broth and pea tendrils makes us forget all about traditional New England steamed lobster, while his steamed cod with tofu and crispy Chinese sausage gives our regional fish a much more fashionable status. Which is exactly the point at L, housed on the first floor of Boston's tony shopping emporium. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, 617-266-4680.
It's not often that a well-loved, acclaimed restaurant changes hands without losing some of the flavor that first made it successful. But this unpretentious eatery managed to do just that last winter: The food remains as perfectly prepared, fresh, and enticing as it always was. On a recent visit, duck egg raviolini with fresh mushrooms was the perfect cold weather treat. Desserts, like a warm chocolate cake, came made-to-order and in perfect portions for sensible indulgence. 798 Main St., Cambridge, 617-876-8444.
When chef Gabriel Frasca took over this sleek, modern room tucked inside Nine Zero hotel, he transformed it into a must-stop on the Boston culinary trail. These days, Frasca and his team scour local markets daily for fresh ingredients and prepare them using French techniques. Frasca makes some of the most exquisite Maine diver scallops around (with porcini mushrooms, pancetta, and English pea purée). But we're partial to his civilized take on the traditional clambake, prepared with fresh lobster, clams, corn, and chorizo. 90 Tremont St., Boston, 617-772-0202.
The crowd at the bar at Teatro is three beautiful people deep — and that's at 6 p.m. on a Monday . In fact, there's rarely been a dull moment here since chef Jamie Mammano of Mistral renovated the space (formerly Galleria Italiana) two years ago. What's the draw? Probably not just the food, although dishes are quite tasty (especially the antipasto). Probably not the location, although it's just steps from the Theater District. More likely, it's both. So prepare to wait for a table, and once there, dig into a plate of tortelli . 177 Tremont St., Boston, 617-778-6841.
At a time when seemingly every restaurant is aching to break the culinary sound barrier with luxurious ingredients and out-there presentations, it's just nice to know that places like Ten Tables exist. What's even nicer, however, is to eat there. Tucked into the increasingly bourgeois-bohemian stretch of Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, the candlelit spot shuffles out classic dishes (the likes of puffy pumpkin soufflés), delivered with less fanfare than genuine friendliness. Sometimes simplicity is every bit as sophisticated as experimentation. 597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-524-8810.
Go figure: The most refined Asian food in town isn't found in or even near Chinatown. Rather, it's at the hands of Ken Oringer — a French-trained chef from New Jersey. But you simply can't argue with the culinary prowess shown at Uni. With one taste of the raw mirugai (giant clam), the clam's saltiness enhanced by pickled ginger shoot, Oringer's respect for Asian cuisine kicks in. After that, trust us. You won't care where Chinatown is. Eliot Hotel, 370A Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-536-7200.
Union Bar and Grille
It's not just that they shake up what is possibly the perfect negroni, or that sitting at the bar (a must when the place is packed) still means excellent service. What makes dining at this freshman-year darling of a restaurant so memorable is the meal itself: briny oysters and plates of crispy calamari that are full of sweet, nutty squid flavor. Then there's the tenderloin, almost guaranteed to steal the show — not with bells and whistles, but with its singing flavor: just a clean red-wine reduction and a sprinkle of sweet herbs. 1357 Washington St., Boston, 617-423-0555.
Upstairs on the Square
Here's a proposal for all those cooler-than-thou visitors to Boston who come thinking that tweedy Brahmins still rule Harvard Square: Have dinner at UpStairs on the Square. There, in one of Crimson Nation's most traditional social-club settings, owners Mary-
Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes have replaced fusty New England prep with unapologetically pink walls, leopard rugs, and a lavish menu that includes a roasted lamb salad with pomegranate and walnut pistou and handcut pumpkin ravioli with meaty chanterelles. 91 Winthrop St., Cambridge, 617-864-1933.
The second of three Michael Schlow-Christopher Myers projects, Via Matta has unquestionably found its niche with Boston's it crowd. Tables are lingered over and lunches powered through, while a mini-celebrity scene has landed at the restaurant's enoteca . And then there's the food: pasta piled under thick, savory sauces and traditional northern Italian-style meat dishes. Top it off with attentive service, and we think it's every bit as good as the real thing. 79 Park Plaza, Boston, 617-422-0008.
Even in the North End, it's hard to find true Italian (read: not Italian-American) cooking. But Via Valverde, formerly Trattoria à Scalinatella, stays true to form with every plate and sets a new standard for the neighborhood in the process. Chef Daniel DeCarpis's menu draws from all over Italy, with a signature dish of pancetta-wrapped rabbit leg. The knowledgeable service and a sophisticated, all-Italian wine list wrap Via Valverde into a complete package — shipped directly from the Old World. 233 Hanover St., Boston, 617-742-8240.
Recipe//Tony Maws, Craigie Street Bistrot
I can still taste the striped bass I caught off the shore of Martha's Vineyard when I was 12. There had been talk in town about stripers running, and we decided to go over. We were there for hours with no luck. Finally, I just had to let one last cast fly. Suddenly I had a fight on my hands. For what seemed a lifetime (30 minutes is a long time to a kid), I struggled and finally pulled up a 45-pound striped bass. We iced him in our bathtub that night; he was all shimmery black with silver stripes. I remember being so proud that I was going to feed my family this feast. We grilled it with fresh lemon and made a big salad, fresh from the garden. There was so much we served it to friends and family for two days.
1 tablespoon butter
4 fillets of striped bass
Salt and pepper
A handful of chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Fill a pan with 1/4 inch of water. Add 1 tablespoon butter and bring to a simmer. 3. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and place in pan. Put in the oven and baste with the cooking liquid every two minutes or so. Cook until fish is just warmed through. 4. Reduce cooking liquid until it just coats the back of a spoon. Add a drop or two of lemon juice and the herbs, and spoon over the fish. Serve immediately.
Recipe//Ken Oringer, Clio
I grew up in New Jersey, but every summer my parents would drive my twin brother, my sisters, and me to Cape Cod, and we always stopped in Boston. So on one trip when I was eight, we went to Locke-Ober, and I remember being so completely excited to be at this fancy old restaurant with silver and proper French service. I ordered Indian pudding and loved it. It was so peasant, yet so refined. Later, I became fascinated by how such basic ingredients could be made into something so upscale. And I still am — it's something I try to do now with my menus. But I'll tell you, that pudding was the first thing I ordered when I went back to Locke-Ober 30 years later. The taste memory was that strong.
4 cups milk
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Demerara sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/ 8 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon >> 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Heat milk with half-and-half to a boil. 2. Add butter until it melts, then gradually pour in cornmeal. Stir and cook on low heat. 3. Add molasses, maple syrup, and salt. Mix eggs with sugars and cornstarch in a bowl, then add it to cornmeal mixture and season with cinnamon and nutmeg. 4. Pour in ovenproof ramekins and bake in preheated oven for two hours at 325 degrees. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Recipe//Laura Brennan, Caffè Umbra
My mom taught me how to cook when I was about 10. I grew up Catholic, and we always had to have fish for Friday supper. I remember how methodical it was: First you made a white sauce, then you pickled red onions, and then made hard-boiled eggs. I was fascinated by how putting the vinegar on the onions made them turn pink. It was one of the things that I liked best about making this dish — it involved many steps. I look back at those first times I made it, and I guess that was really the beginning of my culinary career.
Serves four to six
1 pound box salt cod
1 whole stalk celery
1/2 large Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 pints whole milk
1 medium red onion
good quality Champagne vinegar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 shallots, minced
1/2 stalk celery, peeled and minced
freshly grated nutmeg
1 clove garlic, mashed
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
1 pound fingerling potatoes, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the salt cod overnight in three times its volume of cold water. Change the water three times over the course of 24 hours. 2. Put fish in a nonreactive pot with the stalk of celery, Spanish onion, whole garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Cover with milk and bring to a simmer. (Do not boil.) Turn off and let cool. 3. Drain off the milk and save. Discard the vegetables and spices. Peel any skin off the fish and flake into large pieces. Set aside. 4. Put the eggs on to hard-boil. Peel, slice, and set aside. 5. Peel the red onion and slice thinly. Put in a nonreactive bowl and cover with the vinegar. Let stand for 15 minutes and drain. 6. To make the white sauce, measure out 3 cups of the poaching milk and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add the shallots, minced celery, nutmeg, and mashed garlic, and cook on low heat, covered, until very soft. Do not let brown. 7. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the cooked vegetables. When it foams, add the flour and stir well. Cook over very low heat for a minute or two. Off the heat, slowly whisk in the reserved milk, stirring constantly to get rid of any lumps. 8. Put back on low heat, whisk constantly, and bring back to a boil until thickened. Continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the thyme. 9. Add the salt cod to the white sauce, gently stir in eggs. Divide the cooked potatoes onto warmed plates and spoon the creamed salt cod on top. Pass the pickled red onions.
Recipe//Jody Adams, Rialto Restaurant
I grew up digging clams on the flats in Barnstable Harbor, so I'm as happy as the next rake-and-pail-er to chop up fist-sized quahogs for chowder. But the quintessential embodiment of Cape Cod shellfish has to be Pat and Barbara Woodbury's Wellfleet littlenecks. If you could bottle a Wellfleet tide and jam it into a package about as wide as a silver dollar, you'd probably be holding a Woodbury littleneck — sweet, tender, briny, with an echo of fennel. Eating one always reminds me of the harbor of my childhood.
Steamed Wellfleet clams with bacon and Savoy cabbage Serves four
1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch rounds “, “
Kosher salt “, “
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil “, “
4 ounces smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice “, “
1 large white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1 and 1/4 cups “, “
1 small Savoy cabbage, core removed and cut into 1/2-inch strips “, “
4 cloves garlic, chopped “, “
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed “, “
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes “, “
2 bay leaves “, “
36 littleneck clams, scrubbed “, “
1/4 cup Pernod “, “
2 cups white wine “, “
1/2 cup chopped parsley “, “
1/2 cup aioli “, “
4 thick slices crusty bread
Put the potato slices in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are just done, four to five minutes. Drain and spread out in a single layer to cool. 2. Heat the oil with the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the bacon until it has rendered, about four minutes. Transfer the bacon temporarily to a plate. Add the onions and cook until tender, about six minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the cabbage, and cook until golden brown. Season with salt. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, hot red pepper flakes, and bay leaves, and cook two minutes. Add the clams, cooked bacon, Pernod, and white wine. Cover and cook until the clams have opened, eight to ten minutes. 3. Add the parsley and potatoes to the pan and toss well to heat through. Spoon the clams into warm bowls and serve with the aioli and big slabs of crusty bread for sopping up the juices.
Recipe//Marc Orfaly, Pigalle
One of the first times I remember getting interested in cooking was thanks to a homey dish my grandmother made. She had this big, blue Revere Ware pot that she used to make a sauce with the fatty ends of pork chops. Making it was a ritual. We'd take meatballs, pork chops, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and just let it stew for four hours. I'd help my grandmother chop onions. Then she served a huge platter of really overcooked ziti. It's kind of an Italian barbecue — really intensely flavored, with a strong pork taste and a sweetness from the tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
Ziti with pork sauce
Serves four to six
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ounce milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 pounds ground beef
Salt and pepper
5 pork chops
8 links hot Italian sausage
10 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 bunch basil, sliced
1 tablespoon dried chili flakes
2 small white Spanish onions, 1 diced and 1 julienned
2 cups carrots, diced
4 cups tomato, diced
3 red bell peppers, julienned
1 pound ziti
1. Mix the first six ingredients with salt and pepper to taste. Roll into 3-ounce balls. 2. In a heavy bottomed Dutch oven, start with 3 ounces olive oil, salt and pepper, and the pork chops. Sear on both sides until brown, and then remove. Sear sausage links and remove. Sear meatballs on all sides and remove. 3. Add garlic to the pot and toast until golden, then add basil, chili, and diced onion and sweat until tender. Add diced carrot and tomato and layer sausage, meatballs, and pork chops on top. Cover and simmer for two hours. 4. Sauté onions and peppers until tender and set aside. 5. Boil salted water and blanch ziti. 6. In the middle of a large platter, mound the peppers and onions. Remove meat from red sauce and arrange around peppers, add ziti to the sauce and toss. Plate everything on another platter. Garnish with roughly chopped parsley and finish with grated Parmesan.
The Next Big Things
Next Big Thing//Head-on fish
“I wish I could serve a whole fish to guests, and they wouldn't freak out,” laments Michael Schlow, executive chef at Via Matta and chef at Radius and Great Bay. “Do people think fish swim around in the ocean with a lemon where their heads are supposed to be?” Fortunately, Schlow says, Bostonians seem to be growing more accustomed to this delivery. At Via Matta, the kitchen gets as many as 50 orders a night for whole grilled fish. Schlow grills a fish like pompano or orata for three or four minutes on each side with fennel and olive oil, then finishes it in the oven.
Next Big Thing//Kurobuta pork
“In the world of fat,” says Locke-Ober chef Lydia Shire, “pork fat is at the top of the heap.” That's why Kurobuta pork (also known as Berkshire or Japanese black hog) is on the ascent as a comparatively healthy meat. Unlike pinkish-white pork that's been pumped with water, sodium, or meat extenders, the purebred and all-natural Kurobuta is deep red to pink with visibly marbled fat (which is what makes it, in Shire's words, so “succulent, moist, and juicy”). Because it's unmodified, chef Michael Haimowitz of Bambara thinks educated consumers will become hooked. Bambara's version is a cured, braised pork loin, while Locke-Ober features a chili- and vanilla-brined pork rack. Both dishes are so tender you can cut them with a butter knife. And the flavor, Haimowitz says, “is what pork is supposed to taste like.”
Next Big Thing//Essential Oils
Attired in gloves and protective eyeware, Restaurant L chef Pino Maffeo looks more like a scientist than an executive chef at a trendy restaurant. In fact, he's both. He asserts that his cutting-edge work with therapeutic-grade essential oils — highly concentrated liquids created through the distillation of herbs — is something “no one else is doing yet.” Maffeo adds a drop or two of anise oil to blood-orange vinaigrette, for example, to tighten the flavor, or thyme oil to cod wrapped in jamón serrano. “The flavors and aromas are so concentrated,” he says. “A little goes a long way.”
Next Big Thing // Honeycomb
“Honeycomb is so beautiful,” gushes chef Gabriel Frasca of Spire. Unbelievably sweet, it's nature's candy bar. And it turns out to be good for you: Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed it regularly to treat wounds and many other ailments. In the kitchen, Frasca's focus is on taste. “It's unfortunate that we associate the word 'waxy' with honeycomb,” he says. “The texture is incredibly pleasant.” And that's precisely why he sees it becoming more and more popular in the dining room. For desserts, he'll lightly chop honeycomb, which he gets from several apiaries, and fold the pieces into ice cream, adding a touch of vanilla. Or he'll pair it with a French goat cheese as a dessert alternative.
Next Big Thing // Oddly colored vegetables
Vegetables are the new entrée, according to Pigalle chef Marc Orfaly. That's why he's been making efforts lately to serve their little-known — and often strangely hued — varieties. Though purple ketchup and blue M&M's work on grocery-store shelves, only recently have colored foods — pink onions, for instance, and golden leeks — been showing up on dining room tables. And when they do, they're usually braised in sugar, water, vinegar, salt, and honey. “We use a dash of grenadine to get a glossy beet color which looks, and tastes, pretty amazing,” says Orfaly. “It enhances the flavor of every ingredient.” Eating your vegetables may never feel like punishment again.