Recently I had read nothing but good things about Taste, including the rave reviews from local bloggers who attended a media event for the launch of their new menu last week. Hence, I had high hopes and decided to choose Taste for a celebratory birthday dinner.
First impression wise, I loved the decor and the contemporary look and feel of the place. I think it really works for what they are trying to achieve. I liked that it was simple yet stylish.
The menu at Taste is divided into 4 categories based on price – $5, $10, $15, and $20. The $5 items mainly consisted of snacks such as popcorn and pretzel bits. The $10 items were lighter dishes such as salads and starch. The $15 items were mainly meat dishes and the $20 items consisted of either a cheese board, a meat board, or a fish board.
We order four items from the menu to share:
Cheese Board ($20)
Lamb Chops – maple, pistachio ($15)
Beef Vindaloo – braised short rib, potato, raita ($15)
Scallops – crisp pancetta, savoy cabbage ($15)
The cheese board consisted of 3 types of cheese – nostrala which is a cheese similar to fontina or gruyere, roaring forties which is a blue cheese, and la sauvagine which is creamy cheese with a texture similar to brie. The board also came with some house-made crackers, candied hazelnuts, blackberry compote and a drizzle of honey. To me, the cheese board was the highlight of the evening. I loved the taste and texture of the house-made crackers. The creaminess of the la sauvagine paired really nicely with the blackberry compote. The house-made crackers were the perfect vehicle for the cheese. I thought the selection of cheeses for the board was well thought out with varying textures and flavours. I was impressed at how well everything on the board tied together.
The second dish was the maple-glazed lamb chops which were apparently encrusted in pistachios. I was actually very disappointed with this dish. After seeing mouth-watering photos of this dish by the local food bloggers recently, I really wanted to try this dish. In the photos, the lamb chops appeared to be cooked to medium-rare. In our case, the lamb chops were somewhere between medium to medium-well. It appeared that they were cooked again after being sliced. In addition to being slightly over-cooked, the center was bland. Only the outside edges were seasoned and encrusted with some pistachios. I couldn’t really taste the nuttiness of the pistachios while eating the chop. Though the chop was reasonably tender and juicy, all I could really taste was bland meat. I couldn’t taste the maple either. Overall, I didn’t think it was a very successful dish tonight.
Next was the scallops with the pancetta and savoy cabbage. This dish was ok. I liked the crispy pancetta and was surprised that it wasn’t greasy at all. The scallops were juicy and cooked well. I could taste the natural sweetness of the scallops and the scallops had a nice sear on the outside on at least one of the sides. The savoy cabbage was sweet and tender. I was expecting some of the pancetta flavours in the cabbage and on the scallops to unify the whole dish but that didn’t happen. I felt like the three items were cooked separately and then put together in the pan and they didn’t really have anything to do with each other. While all three tasted fine on their own, I didn’t think this dish had any wow factor.
Lastly was the beef vinadaloo topped with a raita sauce. The raita is like an Indian-version of tzatziki and is made with yogurt, spices, and shredded cucumber. It’s served cold on top of the warm spicy vindaloo stew for contrast. This dish was served with a piece of house-made naan bread. We ordered this dish based on our server’s recommendation. Overall, the dish was ok. The beef vindaloo was spicy, but not overly spicy. The boneless short rib was flavourful and tender. There was nothing really wrong with the dish, but it wasn’t anything special either.
We decided to skip dessert tonight and were pleasantly surprised with complimentary mini chiffon cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream icing when the bill came, instead of the usual mints or candy. I was impressed at how tasty these cupcakes were. The lemon buttercream frosting was creamy and delicious! These were definitely much better than the lemon buttercream cupcake I tried last week from The Little Cupcake Shoppe. I could taste the freshness of the lemon zest in the buttercream. The cake was a little denser but it still moist and soft. I’d definitely come back for these chiffon cupcakes with lemon buttercream. These were my second favourite item this evening.
Overall, I really enjoyed the cheese board with the house-made crackers and the chiffon cupcakes. I would go back to Taste for these two items. Unfortunately, these don’t say much about their cooking ability. I can say though, that they made a great cheese selection today and I really enjoy their baking! I probably will go back for drinks and have their charcuterie and cheese items more so than their cooked food.
1210 1 St SW