Monday, January 28, 2008

Taste: Tasty!

As most of you know, I am not a huge fan of the Upper East Side. Like many Upper West Siders, I am convinced that you need a passport to actually cross the Park, and, even in a suit I often feel under dressed (not that I usually wear one). I don't like watercress. Nevertheless, our male friend from London was in town, we wanted to celebrate, and we wanted to go somewhere nice. Even though I love Ouest, it was time to get out of the neighborhood.

Taste is Eli Zabar's restaurant located in his large store on 80th Street and Third Avenue (1413 3rd Ave, NYC, 10028: 212-717-9798). Nestled next to W.I.N.E, it is a spacious restaurant with an attractive bar. Even the seats are comfortable. The floor, which I think is extremely cool, is in a infinite step pattern (if you go to his website, you can see it in the box marked "special events.") There is plenty of space and the staff is quite lovely. There are two rooms: one of which could clearly be used to host a large group.

The menu changes on a seasonal basis, and in fact looked as it changed every day, based on what looks good in Eli's store and on his rooftop farm. This is more to Taste than the usual "farm stand" line which seems to be on every menu in the City: in Taste's case its a true statement. The best part about the food at Taste is it actually does look, feel, smell and, yes, taste fresh. And it was pretty darn good.

My personal favorite was the "Crispy Ipswitch Clams with Remoulade." I would have called them "Fried Clams with Tartar Sauce" but no matter: they were excellent. The clams were as fresh as they are in Maine, and the batter was well fried, and a little bit spicy. The oysters (Spinney Creek Oyster with JalapeƱo Migonette) were a must have as well. As a matter of fact, I had at least one too many off the Lovely Wife's plate.

Branzino, served whole or filleted, was excellent. I had the short ribs, which were the thing to have in January, even a warm January. Our friend from London enjoyed the pork chops. If I were coming from London the NY for a few days, I would have had the steak and fries, but to each his own.

Everyone liked dessert, but I didn't enough to know what I ate, as I am supposed to be on a diet and by not knowing I consumed no actual calories. There is an excellent cheese cart, from which you select 5 different types of cheeses. Our friend from London helped us make excellent selections, and some of the cheese I've written about, such as pata cabra, were right there! An excellent cheese I have not written about but now want to buy is called Vigneron. All of the cheese is served with Eli's bread.

And, yes, I may be a bit biased in this review. I've said it. But our friend from London, as well as badMDouter and Ms. badMDouter, also had a great time and a great meal. Everybody always talks about Upper East Side sophistication. At Taste, you can have that sophistication while eating excellent food in comfortable surroundings. My only regret is that I was on call, and could not drink any of the wine. Oh well, there's always next time.

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