At Tasso in BoDo, Sandos and Sides are Odes to Smoothness 

click to enlarge The Country Devil with Moroccan chicken salad, popcorn and a pickle at Tasso in BoDo.

Harrison Berry

The Country Devil with Moroccan chicken salad, popcorn and a pickle at Tasso in BoDo.

On one of the walls of Tasso hangs drawing of a pig divided into its constituent cuts of pork. The slightly unsettling map of a living animal's flavors and textures is one of many oddball images decorating the interior of the shop, but it is the one that most closely cleaves to the meat that gave the restaurant its name.

"Tasso" is a cut of briefly cured pork shoulder rubbed in spices, garlic and cayenne pepper, and hot-smoked until done. It's the basis of the Country Devil sandwich ($11), which also contains pork "roasted with succulence," melted Gruyere cheese, whole-grain mustard, gravy and pickled onion between slices of ciabatta.

While the ingredients ought to add up to fireworks, the sandwich on the whole is an ode to smoothness. The mustard and gravy tease out sweetness from chunks of pork and add a hint of vinegar, while the airy ciabatta, with its easily torn crust, sops up grease laden with spice. More an angel than a devil, this sandwich doesn't so much play up contrasts between bright flavors as it finds harmonies between them.

A similar principle is at work in the Moroccan chicken salad ($4), served in a Chinese restaurant to-go box and topped off with slices of bread. Under the fan of ciabatta, the salad is a chunky mix of tomatoes, olives, chopped almonds, spices, yogurt and, of course, chicken. Like the sandwich, though, it finds unity among many flavors. It's feistier than the main course, with olives, yogurt and spices throwing the punches, and chicken absorbing the blows. Above all, the crunchy almonds—a textural nod—make this dish exciting.

Each sandwich comes with a self-serve side of popcorn tossed in a rotating blend of spices sexier than mere butter and salt, and a very green pickle slice. They're proof the restaurant is rethinking the commonplace, using some imagination to wring the unexpected from the familiar.
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