Where to Cafe ArtScience, a restaurant that might more aptly be called a laboratory of food and drink. The team behind it includes Harvard professor David Edwards, who teaches a class called “How to Create Things & Have Them Matter” and has invented the likes of inhalable chocolate; bartender Todd Maul, who got Boston hooked on centrifuged cocktails at Clio; and chef Patrick Campbell, previously at Eastern Standard.
What for Inhalable cocktails — figuratively and literally. If you liked drinking at Clio, you’ll probably like it here, too: You’ll find many of the same faces behind the bar. If sipping tasty concoctions seems passé, sample something from Le Whaf, an Edwards device that turns liquids into vapors you can “drink” through a special straw.
The scene If you’ve ever fantasized about being in the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper,” coming here might be the next best thing. Approaching, one sees a bright, sprawling white room through glass panes. Lighted white shelves display a white orb that vibrates when you sing, inhalable pods to boost energy or immunity or to promote sleep, and Le Whafs. Behind the curving white bar are tubes, blenders, centrifuges, and relics of the present day: a hipster barista making a pour-over coffee for a guest. Above the bar hangs a sculpture that looks like a cross-section of a green glass honeycomb; the hexagonal motif continues throughout the restaurant, cellular. In the dining area, curved velvet couches flow one into the next, tete a tete a tete. Groups of silver-haired intellectuals wearing sweaters patterned like Native American blankets occupy white chairs at white marble tables. At the bar, 20-somethings on a date tuck into a plate of duck necks, and women wrapped in vast gauzy scarves decorated with safari animals consume colorful, elaborate desserts. A staffer transfers smoke from Le Whaf, a potbellied glass device somewhere between a bong and a humidifier, and curious guests inhale.
What you’re eating You’ll find the likes of beef carpaccio with lobster, XO sauce, and truffles; roasted bone marrow with escargots and pork belly rillons; and bone-in Rhode Island fluke with potato, crosnes, and birch emulsion. For dessert: a huckleberry and lime creamsicle with ras al hanout sponge cake, frosted amaranth, and candied rose petals.
Care for a drink? The Todd Collins, Take II, is a tall glass of Old Tom gin, Old Raj gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup with two stirrers: a Benedictine-soaked cucumber and a blue, violet-flavored ice cube that changes the taste of the drink as it melts. Or try the Ardbeg Drink: Ardbeg Scotch, sherry, Swedish Punsch, and oak smoke.
Overheard Talk about adjusting surface tension of cocktails, Plato, camping, and vaporizing cheeseburgers. “It has lipids,” a bartender explains. “As a human, I’m having a hard time arguing with aerated fat,” says one customer, trying the butter. “How could you turn that down as an organism?” Someone samples a dish: “This tastes like emulsified Funyuns,” she says. An argument over snack foods breaks out. “Have you ever had nachos? That’s not cheese. It’s cheese food!” People try to analyze the flavors in various foods and drinks. “Tarragon, take me away!” someone exclaims. “Why wasn’t I born a douchebag?” a man murmurs longingly, eyeing a group of nicely dressed gentlemen laughing heartily in a corner. “It was very engaging and highly disturbing,” a woman is telling her date, gesticulating. “You and fiber!” one friend says to another. “I know. I have issues,” he replies.
650 East Kendall St., Kendall Square, Cambridge, 857-999-2193, www.cafeartscience.com.Devra First can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.