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Sam Mason's Tailor has Arrived


vivin
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My wife and I went for an early dinner on Saturday, and our experience preety much mirrored Nathan's. While I won't say it's a top 5 of NYC, it's a fantastic restaurant with great service and an interesting cocktail program. (The Chanterais, made with walnut-infused cognac, was amazing. The red pepper cocktail was a little too savory, though; it would have been better as a drink amuse-bouche/small shot. It was tasty, but too big.)

Favorite dishes were the foie gras with raw peanuts (they taste like sprouts - who knew) and the amazing pork belly with butterscotch. Since the butterscotch wasn't too sweet, the dish worked perfectly. I disagree on the artic char dish - I found the salting to be appropriate and the avocado ice cream to work very well with the fish and watermelon.

The desserts were again very good - the panna cotta a squiggle of tasty pudding on a plate coated with coffee "crunch" or whatever it was called. It was delicious.

The only disappointment was the corn sorbet - we had hoped that it was Sam's amazing cornbread ice cream from wd~50 re-purposed. Sadly, it wasn't. It was still a good dish, just not what we had hoped for.

4 cocktails, a bottle of sparking water, 4 savory dishes ($15 a pop), 3 desserts ($11 a pop) - and it came to about $190 with tax and tip.

I think the menu is great and I'm hoping to see it expand some. I'd like to have some spice in the components - whether savory or sweet dishes - and I think some of the dessert options should bring a little more saltiness to the table.

He's got a winner on his hands here if he keeps up the quality and service.

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I can't believe I forgot the olive cake - that dish was brilliant. The two types of blueberries that accompanied it (I believe a blueberry "soil" or crunch, and fresh, stewed blueberries) really went well with the sour yoghurt topping, which was texturally somewhere between a foam and a sorbet.

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yeah...that olive cake was good.

Damn, I need to go back and retaste that. I'm posting the review I started to write because I don't know if I'll actually have time to go through every dish. Maybe the member of our group who took pictures will post them?

My 1/6 of a review:

Upon our late, as usual, arrival, our dinner companions were already well into their second (third?) cocktails. Having already sampled at least 12 cocktails on 4 different occasions at Tailor myself, I can’t say I blame them. The cocktails are just as good as anything being done at Death & Company or Pegu Club, but they’re pushing flavor boundaries even further. I’m loving the Lavendar Fizz, the Cascade and the Paprika Punch. Nathan or Sneakeater can talk about the cocktails, though, since they’re far more expert consumers.

After our reservations snafus over the past two weeks, the service could not have been more welcoming or gracious. Throughout the evening we were served by our waiter, had the GM to explain each dish and the head bartender stopped by several times with cocktails and occasional special tastes of new beverages. I’m not personally a fan of drinking cocktails (even great ones) with dinner, so I’ll look forward a full wine list becoming available. That being said, I expect to find myself at the bar as often as in the restaurant.

Because of the number of components in the dishes, sharing a Tailor dish among more than two people is somewhat untenable, so we ordered three of every dish for our table of six.

The Salty

I think our entire table unanimously agreed that the foie gras and peanut butter was a standout hit. Quotable quote of the night: “I’ll know I’ve found my future wife when she and I go together as well as foie gras and peanut butter.” When you taste this dish, the combo seems too obvious to be as novel as it is. The foie is 80% foie and 20% peanut butter, sprinkled in bitter chocolate with raw green peanuts and finely diced pear on the side. The raw peanuts enhance the peanut flavors while giving the dish a tiny bit of bite. I thought the dish was even better than the first time I had it, though Dave H pointed out that it was a smaller portion than the first time- not a good sign.

The pork belly, miso butterscotch and artichoke was the other dish that I had eaten previously. I think this dish is absolutely fantastic. The butterscotch somehow avoids being clingly sweet, and the artichokes are the true star of the dish. The pork belly was less tenderly cooked than the last time (it’s sous vide), but it was still delicious. I hope they’ll quickly be able to improve the consistency of the dishes to turn out perfectly cooked versions of this stuff every time, because the food is too good for the cooking or ingredient quality not to stand up. There's also some sort of alcohol in the butterscotch.

An aside: the bread at Tailor is fantastic. They have an olive bread and a raisin bread- top quality. The breads are served with a canelle of butter topped with thin chives. It is especially great if you steal ALL of the chives for your slice. Again, raisins and chives- why aren’t more people doing it? (And don’t tell me you’re putting chive cream cheese on your raisin bagel, because I don’t accept raisin bagels to begin with).

It’s kind of hard to pick favorites from this menu, but the peeky toe crab, smoked pineapple and basil may have been my favorite of the new dishes I tasted. The menu fails to mention the delicious, preciously thin iberico ham “chip” that adds the necessary salt for this dish. Each of the three spoonfuls of peeky toe crab salad have a smear of pine nut butter beneath them, bringing a wonderful nutty woodsiness into the mix. Like many avant garde dishes, it’s best if you combine all of the elements in each bite. The crab, pine nut, microbasil, pineapple and ham all bring a necessary taste and texture element to the dish. If they sold ham chips like that in bags in our vending machine at work, I’d have a serious problem on my hands.

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If between the six of you, you tried everything on the menu thrice over, and all dishes tried have been mentioned, it seems that the menu is manageably limited - that is, about 4-5 savories and the same of sweets. No?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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If between the six of you, you tried everything on the menu thrice over, and all dishes tried have been mentioned, it seems that the menu is manageably limited - that is, about 4-5 savories and the same of sweets.  No?

Not all our dishes have been mentioned- there are six in each category. The menu is posted on eater and linked to this thread somewhere. Although a couple of the dishes have already changed a bit, they have the same elements.

As I said before, I don't think anyone in our party was overly stuffed, and Dave H and I had lunch at Stone Barns earlier that day. Maybe we're just capable eaters...

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If between the six of you, you tried everything on the menu thrice over, and all dishes tried have been mentioned, it seems that the menu is manageably limited - that is, about 4-5 savories and the same of sweets.  No?

According to this Eater post, it's six apiece.
I’m not personally a fan of drinking cocktails (even great ones) with dinner, so I’ll look forward a full wine list becoming available.

As I recall from Mason's pre-release comments, the focus on cocktails over wine was a deliberate decision.
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well yeah, Eben's doing the cocktails...I haven't heard of them bringing in a sommelier of that stature (that's not to say that they haven't)

Right, and the cocktails are fantastic as a result. I just don't want a giant bell pepper on the side of my foie gras- no matter how avant garde. I don't need a lot of wine choices to be happy, but I'd still rather have wine.

Also, I don't think a sommelier needs to be "of stature" to do a great job. Mixology is a bit different, since Eben has actually invented (or at least tweaked) the cocktails.

Edited by Jesikka (log)
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Can a solo diner walk in impromptu, get a seat at the bar, and order some food? Or is that crazy?

Sadly, no food at the bar right now. That being said, the restaurant was almost entirely empty last night. Until they start serving food downstairs, a solo diner would be taking up one of the two top tables in the dining area.

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I'd almost guarantee you could walk in tonight and snag a table.

I imagine one issue with bar/lounge dining is the size of the kitchen...with a full dining room it'd be very hard to put out dishes for the bar/lounge as well.

They're closed on Mondays.

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I was informed that they are serving food in the bar area but starting soon (he might have said as early as Wed this wk - but I forget now) that there will be a separate food menu for the bar area consisting more of bar/snack foods. That would be interesting in itself.

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the only reservations I'm familiar with so far have been made in person.

I'm not sure that they're actually taking reservations, other than as a courtesy to the people that they failed to serve who had reservations. They definitely do not pick up the phone or return messages (although you do get to listen to Sam's sexy voice saying "Tailor"). Since my first two reservations have been failed to various degrees (Saturday they were open and everything was free with a set menu of one savory, one sweet and one cocktail and yesterday was as described by Nathan previously), I'm waiting to see what happens with our reservation for Sunday. They're clearly having liquor license issues, but the GM seems to be a pathological liar, so it's not entirely clear when that will be cleared up.

Report to follow, but the previews on Saturday were really great and the cocktails are definitely among the best and most interesting available in New York right now. That being said, they should make room for a Kold-Draft machine. The way they're making ice right now works (provided that they use it, which they didn't on Saturday) but seems arduous. The cocktails were remarkably better downstairs at the bar with proper ice and Alex the bartender making them.

What number did you call? No telephone number is listed either on their website or in other listings in which I have looked.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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always check menupages.

212-334-5182

Thanks! Good to have it posted on here in any case. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I was happy to find that Tailor is only about 5 minutes’ walk from the subway station I use to get home, so I thought I’d drop in after work. The bi-level space is modern chic, but nicely done. There is an ample bar area downstairs with a dining room on the ground level. The dining room is arguably more comfortable than WD–50, and it is certainly more so than p*ong or the late lamented Room 4 Dessert.

Service was as polished as at just about any three-star restaurant. Although there are no tablecloths, there are cloth napkins. Silverware was promptly replaced, and an empty glass or a finished plate were promptly noticed. My bar tab was transferred to my table without complaint. Both ambiance and service bear no comparison to Momofuku Ssam Bar, which is distinctly unpleasant, no matter how much Chang may be canonized for his cooking.

The food at Tailor has three-star potential, but with some serious limitations. At the moment, only six savory courses and six desserts are on offer, making Tailor’s menu the skimpiest of any comparable establishment. None of the items individually is very expensive (sweets $11; savories $12–15), but as the servings are small, the costs can mount in a hurry.

Mason made a considered decision to feature cocktails, rather than wine. The cocktail menu features twelve very clever selections by mixologist Eben Freeman, but only five wines by the glass (none by the bottle). Freeman’s offerings ($12–15 each) are excellent in their own right, but they are small, and they overpowered the food.

Frank Bruni thrives on the unpredictable, but if he is unwilling to award three stars to WD–50, it seems unlikely he’ll do so here, as Tailor is in many ways far more limited. Two stars seems to me about the best Tailor could expect, unless the menu choices expand and a real wine list is added. It seems almost a crime to have such a polished service brigade, and so little to serve.

Although the dining room was empty, the staff insisted that I not take photographs. Why Thomas Keller can permit this with a full dining room at Per Se, while Mason won’t allow it in an empty one, is beyond me. Apparently he wants to keep the food a secret. I will therefore accommodate him by not describing what I had. I’ll say that there was an amuse-bouch. Of the two dishes I paid for, one was very close to the best thing I’ve had all year; the other one wasn’t.

I had planned to order more, but after the no-photography edict I decided to go home. What’s the deal with the no-photo rule? Gordon Ramsay was the last jerk to pull that stunt, and look where it got him?

Edited by oakapple (log)
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