In it's short existence, much has already been said about Tailor. Some people love it, others hate it. Such is the territory for a hotly anticipated, much delayed, category-busting, modern restaurant with rock star pastry chef. Given all the hype, I think Tailor lives up to expectations. Does it serve the best food, the best desserts, or the best drinks? I would say no to each, but the whole experience is largely satisfying, educational, and cool all at once.
I now present the much-anticipated (by me anyway) Cocoa Tasting Menu at Tailor. This was from Sunday evening and only the second day Sam had rolled it out. Sam claims that it's still a work in progress, but I was quite impressed.
In addition to these dishes, my dining companion and I had a good bit more fun, also sampling the following dishes:
Peeky toe crab, pineapple, basil, pine nut puree
Duck tartar, marjoram pesto, pickled cherry jam
Snapper, avocado-pistachio, watermelon, black olive
Passion fruit poached char, lime pickle, coconut
Pork belly, miso butterscotch, artichoke
Pretzel ice cream, beer foam
Manchego cheesecake, concord sorbet, sage
Rum braised banana, mustard ice cream, brown butter cake
We began our evening in the downstairs bar with the violet gin fizz and a paprika punch. The violet gin fizz was a refreshing, if somewhat unsettling, mixture of acid and cream. I wish the floral component would've been more assertive. The drink has promise, but still could use some improvement. The paprika punch really plays up the savory cocktail trend that seems very popular right now. I've had a couple drinks now that do the jalapeno, cilantro, cucumber, thing, but this took the vegetal idea in a somewhat different direction. Nice and refreshing but for some reason I wasn't totally enamored. Maybe it needed one more layer of flavor. Smoked paprika? Also tried a splash of the smoked Coke. Totally smoky, totally delicious. When we went upstairs we did the Bazooka and the Crumble, the cocktail with the brown butter rum. The former is totally hilarious and at once nauseatingly tasty. It's kind of sad that I liked it more than my tiny, female dining companion. The brown butter drink was among the best cocktails I've had in recent memory. I totally dug this brand of savory, butterscotch-y goodness. Even the mouth feel of the drink is rich and unique. A very generous pour(s) of '06 Au Bon Climat chardonnay brought us back to earth. The '06 seems to me to be more restrained than previous vintages.
With all the drinks and dishes I tried, the evening was something of a whirlwind. We were very excited to be there and I think it's quite clear the staff is excited as well. Our captain knew the food down cold and was great throughout the night. The manager, also a very cool guy. It's easy for a place like this to be standoffish, but I felt welcomed and in my element. Then again, I'm something like their target customer, so I suppose that makes sense. Everyone who's complaining about the music and uniforms has to be crazy. Seriously. The "hot pants" that were such a big deal are nothing but nicely tailored shorts. Comparisons to Hooters? Give me a break. The iPod on this evening belonged to the same general manager and included an eclectic selection of music ranging from indie to country to hip-hop. Volume was fine. I really don't see what people are complaining about. I wouldn't even write about this if people didn't make it seem like Tailor was like a burlesque club with head-thumping music. The entire vibe is downtown, vintage, urban cowboy chic. I buy into that kind of thing.
The food itself was quite impressive. Although I think enjoyed the items from the a la carte side of the menu more, the chocolate side was certainly more adventurous. Although I felt the theme was made a bit too apparent at times, if I were to back I would still prefer to order the chocolate menu (or whatever special menu was being featured). The value of innovation and experimentation on that side of the menu outweighs what may be a higher tastiness quotient on the a la carte side.
Highlights were the char (best dish of the night), duck tartar, cheesecake, and pork belly. The duck and eel terrine with chocolate consomme and mango was perhaps the dish that best struck a balance between really interesting/ballsy and tasty. The chocolate consomme was assertive in itself and with the interplay between the duck and eel there a lot of richness going on. The foie dish is really, really tasty, but I see merit in the complaint that it does not taste strongly of foie. Like many dishes at Tailor, and in modern cooking in general, the best experience is achieved by dropping preconceptions of how a given ingredient should taste and just experiencing the dish as a whole. By doing that the diverse components in the very tasty snapper dish also make more sense.
All in all, I really enjoyed myself. This is, without question, a category-busting restaurant, but one that executes at a rather high level. Although people may try to compare it to p*ong, I don't think this is really apt. p*ong is a much less ambitious restaurant that is fundamentally a dessert bar with some cold savory items. Tailor is much more like wd~50 in that it, especially in this cocoa menu, asks diners to subtly reconsider what makes a meal a meal.
Edited by BryanZ, 08 October 2007 - 09:22 PM.