When I found out he had become executive chef at the newly renovated Lounge on 20, I was so happy for him. Finally, a perfect place to showcase his artistic food stylings and ideas, many of them modern plays on classic dishes, or optical/food illusions. The name for this is of course called "molecular gastronomy", but I would say that Pajo's food at Lounge on 20 is far more accessible than that. Not everything on the menu is complicated for the sake of being complicated, and not everything is mixed in a test tube or spun in centrifuge. Rather, the dishes are some of the prettiest plating I have seen, and prepared with the highest quality ingredients.
I was invited to come in and check out the renovation (which included adding nearly 100 seats for dining, and integrating a warmer color scheme), and I happily accepted. At first I was confused because I thought Lounge on 20 was a pretty place before the re-do and what could be wrong with selling so many sparkling wines & champagnes (hello, one of my favorite things) by the glass? But, I was definitely excited and curious to see what the owner and Pajo had worked on together.
Here's the view from my table. I ordered the Segura Vidas Brut Reserva and the Shrimp Ceviche to start.
The Shrimp Ceviche is comprised of Jumbo Shrimp, Lime, and a Mango “Yolk”. The fun part of this dish is puncturing the "yolk" and allowing the mango to run down the shrimp pieces to flavor them. And a nod to the Chef for NOT putting this dish in a martini glass!!
Next up was the Baby Heirloom Beets: with Argula Puree, Walnut “Soil”, frozen Goat Cheese, and Compressed Strawberries. This was a favorite of mine. Why? Because it looks like a little fruit and vegetable centerpiece...it was like the server brought me out a little mini-bouquet! But beyond that, there were the textures and flavor combinations that were really fantastic. That is where I think Pajo really knows what he is doing and where his passion lies.
Another example was my main course, the Massachusetts Day Boat Scallops with Piquillo Puree, Marcona Almonds, and Golden Raisins. And once again, check out the plating. Loved it. These are the kinds of lighter dishes I am looking for when I eat somewhere. It's difficult to stick to a diet (especially one in which I am not eating any bread or processed food: flour, sugar, etc) and come to a restaurant and try to choose something to which I do not have to ask that it be modified at least a little. I didn't have to modify anything I tried here. I think Lounge on 20 is a great restaurant for people who are low-carbing it or are on gluten-free diets. I paired the scallops with an increasingly popular drink at the new Lounge... the Cucumber Gimlet. Just do it!!
And now, for dessert...
This is a new cocktail called the Razzputin. It contains chocolate vodka, old rasputin stout and a raspberry garnish. I would have easily polished this off as dessert. It was not too heavy and not too sweet and did have a chocolatey finish. I am usually not a fan of flavored “chocolate” or “apricot” or “honey” beers, but this one works. Since I am not really supposed to have beer (because of the gluten), I only took a few sips. But what I had was surprisingly good!
Oh gee, after gushing about Pajo so long, I haven't even told you about the new pastry chef, Elaine Baker, who is pretty gush-worthy herself. You might know her work from The Grange. In case you need a reminder, here's a little more about her.
I didn't really try these delights because I cannot eat anything with sugar, but I wanted you to see this one /read the descriptions. Below is the Bittersweet Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Banana Rum Caramel, a Cocoa Nib Florentine, and Cinnamon Ice Cream.
Also, Elaine is making things like "poptarts", brioche doughnut holes, and house-made crackers for Lounge on 20. Um, "like"!!
Here's a little shot of the bar I snapped before I headed out. If you have never been in, or have not seen the remodel, it's the perfect time to head into Lounge on 20, they've even got a patio--great because now the weather is behaving. You can visit their Facebook page here and follow them on twitter here, to keep up with all the latest specials and happenings (things like live music and cocktail demonstrations!).
Cheers to Pajo, Elaine, and Ali and best wishes for success.
Hungry for more? Check out this video that details their new charcuterie plate.
PS: The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday. -cg