Review: Tico

Sensational small plates and tequila done right
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  May 31, 2011
4.0 4.0 Stars

So what tequila might you drink, and in what way? We couldn't find a weak link. In the "añejo" category, a shot of Herradura 2008 ($13) had some bare alcohol despite an extra year of aging over most añejos, but you wouldn't mistake it for vodka — the smoke of cooked agave is there, and so is some fresh-fruit aroma. Avion ($15) with some water, like a fine Scotch, was a smoother drink, also with smoke and a bit of fruit.

The classic margarita ($12) is just that, salty and sour, but with more of the smoky flavor of roasted cactus root than I remember from elsewhere. So is a dreaded chile-infused margarita ($12), except adding a little more bite at the end. And so even is a fruit-flavored "phake margarita" ($12) — I can't even recall which fruit, it was that sneaky — still tasting of the best of the basic spirit used. Coffee and decaf and espresso are all above average (the decaf truly outstanding in a weak league).

And you could have dessert. The "over-the-top caramelized banana split" ($10) is deconstructed with chocolate gelato and Mexican chocolate sauce, and crushed peanuts that, in some mouthfuls, suggest bacon. Lemon sabayon tart ($10) is like a lighter Key lime pie. The real killer is the "super delicious chocolate tart" ($10) with tres leches ice cream and a side decoration of dulce de leche, the deadly Argentine condensed-milk sauce. The cookies and milk ($8) are three with cold whole milk. Some diners will want this to get out of the deep flavor rut of everything else, but I found it pedestrian. The cheese plate ($10) isn't generous, but it is fairly local, which means slices of European-style cheese made in the US — a rich goat, a double-cream, a semi-sweet cheese like Manchego (might have been an import), and another harder one — with dabs of minced dried fruit, and toasts of raisin bread.

Service was still a little confused our night, as the restaurant is always packed, and the small-plate format asks a lot of servers in terms of extra trips and memory work. Water was refilled often, and there was no up-selling on drinks. If anything, a table full of good eaters might even get a complimentary shot of an exceptional old tequila, as the management are evangelistic about this format, and they know the food side is covered.

Tico
222 Berkeley Street, Boston (Back Bay)
617.351.0400
Open Monday–Friday, 11:30 am–2 am; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–2 am
AE, DI, MC, VI
Full Bar
Valet Parking: $16
Sidewalk Level Access


Robert Nadeau can be reached at robtnadeau@aol.com.

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