First Bite: Liquid Art House

It’s all about appearances at this Back Bay restaurant-gallery hybrid.

Photograph by Chelsea Kyle

Liquid Art House’s colorful red quinoa salad; Photograph by Chelsea Kyle

Opened last May at the base of the luxury apartment building known as the Arlington, Liquid Art House flagrantly turns its back on the cozy, farm-chic aesthetic that’s been dominating the restaurant scene. Here, soaring ceilings are propped up by grand pillars; a bold graffiti-scrawled mural gives the curved bar area an edgy look; and the chairs in the lounge look like they belong in a gallery.

Which is fitting, because if you like that sculptural glass teardrop on your table, any of the contemporary artwork lining the walls, or even one of those lounge chairs, you can take it home along with your leftovers—for a price. Also up for grabs: high-end jewelry and other trinkets in cases by the host stand, and a lava-lamp-like blue plasma pillar in one of the dining areas, offered for a cool $4,000.

It’s enough to make you forget that the place actually serves food. But the eye-catching dishes turned out by chef Rachel Klein (formerly of Asana) manage to be as contemporary as the art around them, yet familiar enough to be, well, enjoyable. Some, such as the red quinoa salad ($17)—a medley of yellow cauliflower, snap peas, tomatoes, and radishes accented by goat’s-milk feta and Mangalitsa ham—made the food-as-art approach seem effortless. Elegantly plated Muscovy duck breast ($35), accompanied by duck-confit  farrotto and a drizzle of rice-vinegar caramel, expertly straddled the line between sweet and savory. Eastern European–style sour-cherry dumplings with sliced foie gras ($22/half; $33/full), however, skewed jarringly sweet.

Desserts from Deuxave vet Giselle Miller mirror Klein’s visually arresting plates. Take, for example, the Newton’s Apple ($14). With a vast array of components including brioche-cream-filled brown butter cake; apples both in fresh and sorbet form; and a clever canelé ice cream, it was an elaborate masterpiece that merited its art-filled surroundings.

100 Arlington St., Boston, 617-457-8130,

Photograph by Chelsea Kyle

the restaurant’s dramatic bar area; Photograph by Chelsea Kyle

Photograph by Chelsea Kyle

the elegantly plated Newton’s Apple dessert; Photograph by Chelsea Kyle