Ken Oringer on the reason he’s closing Clio
The chef’s flagship restaurant will give way to its funkier neighbor, Uni.
I love to change things up. After almost 19 years, I was like "You know what? I don't eat this way anymore." I don't like to sit in restaurants for three hours. I like to be more casual, sit, and have fun with my friends. I wanted to bring that into Clio, but shake it up.
Everyone told me I was crazy when I came up with [Uni]. I spent time in Japan prior to that and was like "Why not?" It pulled me out of the kitchen and was an excuse to cook for my guests face to face and see what they like. I wanted to take what I understood them to do in Japan and turn it on its head — create something without sushi rolls that was lighter and more fish-focused than just having rice and nori and those other things — and also create a small, intimate party every night.
I just want to enjoy the last weeks of Clio. We're planning a big reunion event where we're going to have about 20 alumni chefs. I want to bring them back, drink a couple beers with them, and laugh about all these crazy times that we've had in this restaurant and how it's been an amazing place for a young chef. I could not be prouder to have been a part of their lives.
I have thousands of notebooks with ideas, recipes, old menus from years ago. I thought it would be really cool to bring them back and show some of the cooks now what we were doing. And we have so many guests that have been coming here as regulars for so long. The nostalgia of bringing back some of these dishes, it's for them also. They love being able to say "Oh, I remember when I used to eat that dish." It's bittersweet, because some of these dishes I may never cook again.
OLD FAVORITES Clio's Chefs' Reunion Dinner on December 15 features a 19-course menu. Call 617-536-7200. Seating begins at 6:30 p.m.