The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room, formerly on First Avenue, have moved into their new digs on Elizabeth just south of Houston a little over a month ago. They are located in a space that used to be inhabited by a strange and quirky store called Plate that served food and sold clothes. Good idea but not well executed. Strange place.
I love what they have done with the place. A small bar in front is so intimate that you don’t realize that the back room is where the majority of the seating is taking place. Warm lighting. Big wine cellar which I noticed they used a flashlight to read the names of the wines…pretty funny. Modern digs and fabrics create the soothing yet hip atmosphere.
Everything they make is made to order. Also, the menu changes daily. Incredibly tough thing to do but certainly ambitious. There is something to be said for restaurants making the same meals over and over again. They perfect them. I like the concept of changing the menu seasonally but every night is a tough one.
The wine list is extensive. They also make everything themselves including the vodkas. The menu has two options, taste and share. Taste is appetizer size and share is more like a main course size.
We tried four different things. Honestly very little appealed to me. But, who knows what tomorrow would have brought. The first two tastes that came out were swordfish tartare with nardello peppers, fennel and cocozelle squash. Chopped and served in a round disc was the swordfish that had been mixed with a type of mayo ( I think) and then served over thin slices of squash which was layered with the peppers, fennel chopped into a little salad under the swordfish. Simple, elegant and good. The second was broiled eel, roasted canastrino tomatoes, shell beans and chives. 5 pieces of broiled eel served over a thin tomato sauce that has chunks of the roasted tomatoes in it and cooked beans. I really did not like this dish at all. Tomato sauce and eel do not work. I took a bite or two and passed.
The next two tastes that came out were roasted pork belly served over hakurei turnips, greens and crab apples. Crisp pork belly (the latest meat on every menu in nyc) served over a dish of roasted turnips and greens with little pieces of apples. It was good but not great. The other was hen-of-the-woods mushrooms served with bread pudding, shallots and collard greens. This was fantastic. Two large mushrooms that were sweet served next to a concoction of shallots and collard greens with the warm onion like bread pudding. The mixture of textures worked really well. This one was my favorite.
That was it. I really love the vibe there. I’d go back again to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine and maybe share one entree. As I have said before, I love the share thing but I’d go back to Stanton Social or Kuma Inn to share with a big group before I’d go back to the Tasting Room, preferably the Stanton Social.