If you dismembered Strawberry Shortcake dolls as a kid and threw their appendages into your E-Z Bake Oven just to see what would happen, then you’d probably like Moto. This is ground zero, a Midwestern Los Alamos for the movement dubbed "Molecular Gastronomy."
Chef Homaro Cantu, a culinary J. Robert Oppenheimer, drops food bombs like frozen yuzu spheres (Japanese citrus fruit), carbonated oranges, Krispy-Kreme-flavored doughnut soup and savory Dippin Dots in flavors like Kentucky fried ice cream. A night at Moto is a full-on curiosity stimulator, an immersion in the gourmet limits of liquid nitrogen, class IV lasers and space age polymers. In the kitchen they throw around chemical stabilizers like most chefs use salt. Price-wise, the restaurant offers three tasting menus: a $65 five-course, $100 ten-course and $160 grand tasting menu. Should you opt for a la carte, salads and starters go for under $10, and entrees average between $15 and $25.
Moto is about defying expectation, and the decor is no exception. There are no egg-shaped chairs, Lucite tables or blob-like forms. Instead you are surrounded by a minimalist palette of white fabrics, gray walls, and chocolate woods.
The experience at Moto may seem like an avant garde nightmare, but the chefs don't engage in meaningless theatre; instead they are focused on providing great food and showcasing their craft. Sure, don’t forget to bring your brain with you, but most importantly, suspend disbelief and check your inhibitions at the maitre'd station.
Average cost: $31+
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant