Liquid Art House: A Gourmet Gallery

Ever walk into a restaurant and see a group of artists casually painting next to the bar? Well, if you are a foodie or an artist, food and art intertwine to create an amazing place. Liquid Art House is unique because it’s part restaurant, part bar, and part art gallery. That’s right – you can eat and drink surrounded by art from artists around the world.

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This “off the map” location is still relatively new to the restaurant scene, but it’s already getting a lot of buzz from local press. Although it’s located on Arlington Street—only a few blocks away from Emerson’s campus—Liquid Art House is relatively unknown to Emerson students. I hadn’t heard of Liquid Art House until I started searching for a restaurant to feature on “College Kitchen,” an Emerson Channel show that profiles restaurants in the Boston area. For the “Wild Card” segment of the show, I was seeking a unique spot that went beyond the typical college food. When I stumbled upon this restaurant by chance in an internet search, I was excited to be able to feature a place where the art is as important as the food is.

Going into this shoot, my segment team and I had high expectations, and they were by far exceeded. When we first entered the bar area, we were stunned by the elaborate mural featured on the wall. The mural was almost larger than life with both classical and street art influences. A character within itself in this already eclectic restaurant, the work features an elaborately painted woman with graffiti spanning across the mural. In one corner of the restaurant, patrons could view artists working on their latest creations. While I expected to find the walls adorned with art, I had not expected to see artists actually crafting new pieces.

We were fortunate enough to be able to talk to Liquid Art House’s current visiting artist, Rudy Van Nieuwenhove, whose work is currently being showcased all around the dining area.  Van Nieuwenhove’s work has been greatly inspired by American icon Marilyn Monroe, and each year he creates a new piece that is a homage to her legacy. Van Nieuwenhove reflected, “It started as a way to pay the bills, because paintings of Marilyn Monroe sell, but after 9/11, I started creating a Monroe painting each year to represent my memories.”

Other pieces of his work have also been influenced by New York City, as illustrated in the stunning multi-panel painting pictured below. Full of vibrant colors and meaningful details, Van Nieuwenhove’s work is reflective of his experiences in New York, combined with European style to create his collection, which is currently on display at Liquid Art House.

The visual appeal of this restaurant is worth a trip, and the owner, Ruta Laukien, even encourages people, particularly students, to come by even if it is just to walk around to absorb the art.

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The food itself strives to reflect the tone set by the art, and the in-house chef Stacy Cogswell often draws from the artwork for inspiration when crafting the menu. For our segment, they brought out bacon jam donuts with dough made from duck fat, which was sweet yet still savory. We also tried rice noodle head on fried shrimp, in pineapple and black pepper sauce. This gluten-free dish was crafted by Cogswell to be the perfect late night bar snack, and according to her expertise, pairs well with both beer and wine. The final item we sampled was deviled eggs with ginger, garlic, and scallions, which is always a crowd pleaser.

Overall, the fare is “edgy but comfortable.” In addition to entrees, appetizers, and desserts, they offer a large selection of handcrafted cocktails. The one downside to this amazing restaurant is it’s out of budget for the average college student, with the average entree costing around 30 dollars. However, if your budget is tight, I would recommend splitting a few appetizers with friends and enjoying the artistic atmosphere. We filmed before they opened for the evening, but I got the impression the spacious dining room and bar would be a comfortable experience, even on a busy weekend night. Maybe it was just the high ceilings, but eating in Liquid Art House feels more like dining in a large art gallery than a downtown restaurant.

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Liquid Art House is definitely the most unique restaurant I have ever had the pleasure to visit; probably because they combined two of my favorite things: vibrant art and savory food.  Beyond the restaurant’s unconventional concept, the food was delicious and the staff couldn’t have been more friendly, even though we were interrupting the work day to film.  While right now it may be a little out of my price range, I already have plans to go back when I’m 21 for a drink and appetizer.

For more information or to check out the menu, visit www.liquidarthouse.com, and to check out more art by Rudy Van Nieuwenhove, visit his website at www.vannueuwenhoverudy.be The next time you are craving some decadent food or beautiful art, stop by Liquid Art House, because this is restaurant you have to see to experience.

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