Last night, I met my friend Emma for dinner at Vicia. I’d already been there once before for lunch a month ago, right after they opened. But their dinner menu looked more involved, so I wanted to go back for that experience.
Dining at Vicia is more than just dinner. It kind of feels like being on a TV show about gourmet food. One of my friends saw my pictures on Instagram afterward and said that they reminded her of Chef’s Table. She’s not wrong. I expected the cameras to come out any minute and for someone to appear at the table playing fast-paced violin music.
The restaurant prides itself on sourcing local ingredients, and that was apparent in the dishes I ordered. I started with goose eggs with wheat berries, green garlic, morel mushrooms, cheese rind broth, and breadcrumbs. I expected the dish to look like a bowl of risotto with two eggs on top, but no; the waiter carried it over in a basket full of straw. My jaw dropped. Is this real? I thought. Yes, it was.
I had a hard time deciding on a main dish. The waiter told us about scallops that they brought in from Maine. Apparently, it’s the end of scallop season so the best ones are only available for a little while longer. But then, I saw the Berkshire pork. The waiter said that they smoked it outside and described how flavorful the meat was. Sold, I said.
I was still thinking about how good that pork tasted this morning, which is the mark of an excellent dish. The meat was tender and juicy, and, like the waiter promised, even the fat had a rich flavor. It melted in my mouth. It made me question why I was ever a vegetarian.
I looked forward to ordering dessert the entire meal. At the beginning of dinner, the waiter told me about one of their signature desserts, “Anne’s Garden.” It’s a lemon verbena panna cotta with flowers from an urban farm near the restaurant. It sounded unlike anything I’d ever tried before. I didn’t think twice before ordering one.
I was not disappointed. It came to the table in a glass like you would use for a terrarium. The lemon panna cotta was bright, light, and tart, the perfect complement to the heavier pork dish I ate before. The chocolate “soil” was crumbly and rich and the lime kaffir granita exploded flavor into my mouth like pop rocks. “It’s an edible terrarium!” Emma said. I also thought of it as an upscale dirt and worms, but then I felt guilty for thinking that because it was so much more than that: It was art.
I almost cried at the end of the meal. I felt like I was on a high, kind of like after running a race but without doing any work. It was a mix of exhilaration, pleasure, and nostalgia. I didn’t want the experience to be over. I know I’ll be back soon, though. When you discover a place like Vicia, you can’t stay away for long.