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vivin

Sam Mason's Tailor has Arrived

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Alwang:

"The best of the Sweets are also leaps and bounds better than dishes at the dessert bars I've been to (Chika, Kyotofu)."

A misguided partnering of Chika and Kyofofu in the same category.  Be careful there.  Your writings are not indicitive of one so careless. 

I didn't mean to imply that Chikalicious and Kyotofu were similar stylistically (or similar to Tailor, for that matter). My point was that since Sam Mason made his name as a pastry chef, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to compare him against other pastry chefs going at it alone, i.e., the recent dessert bar trend. I never got a chance to try Room4Dessert, or I would have included that one as well.

-al


---

al wang

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gotta recommend that new dessert with the mustard ice cream.

had the passionfruit poached char again. seriously good.

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I got to Tailor for an after-party for the Starchefs International Chefs Congress, though unfortunately, I didn't get to try any food there. The drinks rocked though. I also liked the space very much. The upstairs dining room is actually quite elegant, but also appears to be quite comfortable. The kitchen is reasonably spacious, well appointed and has to have one of the best sound systems around. I can't wait until I can back there to actually eat!


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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gotta recommend that new dessert with the mustard ice cream.

had the passionfruit poached char again.  seriously good.

I second both of those. Have had them each twice and they're among the best things on the menu.

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What's the drink situation at the moment?

The thread makes it sound as if you get one drink per person at dinner, but that more are available in the bar. However, I thought they still didn't have a liquor license, so are all the drinks free (and if so, what's to stop me from just rolling up in there with no reservation and then never eating)? Did they get the license?

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so are all the drinks free (and if so, what's to stop me from just rolling up in there with no reservation and then never eating)?

Common decency, morality, ethics. Any of those. And probably a waitstaff who'd give you a serious WTF.

Besides, I'm pretty much certain that whole soft-opening song and dance isn't going on anymore.

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that was just one weekend weeks ago.

full liquor license. everything's standard now. has been for weeks.

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so are all the drinks free (and if so, what's to stop me from just rolling up in there with no reservation and then never eating)?

Common decency, morality, ethics. Any of those. And probably a waitstaff who'd give you a serious WTF.

I wasn't actually planning to do it; I was just curious if they had some sort of system. Anyway, having the license pretty well standardizes everything. :) Thanks to both of you.


Edited by mcsping (log)

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I know I'm new here, but I have to dissent to the praise for Tailor. Here is a summary on my meal Sunday night:

Drinks:

Didn't like the blood and sand, but that paprika punch haunts my dreams. I don't know why particularly, but i really loved it. Tart, refreshing, savory, balanced, etc...

Savory:

Foie was a miss for me. Didn't taste enough like foie gras. It was rich and decadent, but more in a chocolate bar sort of way.

Duck tartare was one of the two dishes I liked. It was rich and pleasantly gamy. The marjoram pesto brightened it up a little, and the cherries gave it a nice sweet/tart note. The meat was toothy. In a good way.

Red snapper was interesting, but I don't think it worked well as a whole dish. There weren't really any very strong flavors. I think there just wasn't enough salt on the dish. The fish was bland, the avocado ice cream was just creamy and not that flavorful. Why was there watermelon and black olive there? What kind of combo is that? Who thought of that?

Peekytoe crab with pineapple and ham was ok... crab was fresh and light, but what was that foam doing on top? I think foam for foam's sake. Could have used more salt.

Pork belly was really good. Great texture, especially on the slices where the skin was crispy on top. Really nice butterscotch sauce to go with it. My favorite dish of the night.

Only dessert:

Peaches and tomatoes was disappointing. Why were there tomatoes there in three forms?? I just didn't think the dish worked. The peaches were too sweet/spiced to work with tomatoes no matter how they are manipulated.

Overall, the room is great and some of the food was really pretty good. And there certainly is something to be said about food that makes you think. And I know the concept is the interplay between sweet and savory, but overall I don't think a lot of the food worked. I know the chef has a pastry background, but that is no excuse for under salting. Savories were too desserty and dessert was too savory. When discussing a restaurant, ultimately it has to be judged on the food, and for me, it just didn't work.

Is this a 3 star restaurant? Absolutely not. 2 stars? Maybe... There are six savory dishes on the whole menu! And in a small plates format nonetheless. Will I be back? Yeah. And not only to drink either, although I will certainly be back for that.

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I didn't mean to imply that Chikalicious and Kyotofu were similar stylistically (or similar to Tailor, for that matter). My point was that since Sam Mason made his name as a pastry chef, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to compare him against other pastry chefs going at it alone, i.e., the recent dessert bar trend. I never got a chance to try Room4Dessert, or I would have included that one as well.

As I do entertain International Clients regulary, I wait the line at ChikaLicious because I know it to be the "one thing" impossible for them to encounter in their own Country. They always leave mesmerized. This evening's Corn Pot de Crème under Sour Cherry Compote with Cinnamon Sorbet and Cornmeal Tuile...simply Divine! All complain about the wait, but NONE leave less than overwhlemed by service, classic plating and sheer tastiness of the experience. This is the "Tightest" place in Manhattan. Voted so by those who've spent much money entertaining. My clients anxiously await the Mumbai, Dubai, Hong Kong openings.

-al


Edited by chiram (log)

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I really need to learn how to entertain my international clients at a cheap dessert bar in the East Village. It's hard enough getting them out of midtown down to Bouley!

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I really need to learn how to entertain my international clients at a cheap dessert bar in the East Village.  It's hard enough getting them out of midtown down to Bouley!

Significat value, indeed. How astute.

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Here's my review from last Thursday night. Cliffs Notes: It was great and you should go.

----

The design theme is that of an old tailor's shop, with a little leather cutout in the middle of the table and lots of charcoals and browns, but there's still a strong modern feel. The servers wear gray flannel looking things and brown striped shirts. The design works really well; it's comfortable and stylish. The dining room is reasonably quiet, which I like because I want to feel relaxed, but there's enough music (I remember hearing Talib Kweli, Beatles, and Cranberries) and activity to keep it from feeling dead.

The service is outstanding. Our waitress was very knowledgeable and helpful with recommendations, they tried to find out the name of a song I liked, they folded our napkins for us while we were away from the table, they were quick to refill water and replace silver without just hovering around. The bill came with a clothespin on it which you could use to clip your card in, which was a cute touch. Very professional without being stuffy. Food presentation is also excellent.

Bread

Walnut raisin: Good, standard. Girlfriend more impressed than I was, said texture is rarely this good for walnut raisin bread.

Green olive: Buttery olives and the right texture made this one stand out.

Complimentary amuse-bouche

Fig with bay leaf and pine nut foam: Like eating air if air were bursting with flavor. Very nice sweet fig with a little nuttiness from the foam.

First course

Foie gras terrine, cocoa dust, peanut soil, pear paper: Tastes a lot like a Reese's peanut butter cup with the nice texture of foie gras. Interesting, impressively original, and good, but not earth-shattering. You mostly taste the chocolate and peanut butter, so I felt like the foie gras wasn't as noticeable as I wanted.

Duck tartare, marjoram pesto, cashew, chocolate tuile: Where else am I gonna get duck tartare? Gamey and tasty, but again, not brilliant. Marjoram pesto very good and created interesting flavors. Crumbly texture. I keep thinking about it a few days later though, so maybe it's secretly hypnotic.

Second course

Passionfruit-poached arctic char, mushrooms, spaetzle, coconut shavings: Astonishing. Girlfriend thinks this may be the best thing she's ever eaten. Fish cooked perfectly, sauce wonderful, tiny mushrooms add just a little something extra that really works, coconut adds a little crunch.

Pork belly, butterscotch miso sauce, green apple sticks: Ungodly great. Pork was the perfect texture and saltiness, and the butterscotch adds the right amount of sweetness to it. I had to force myself to slow down and really make sure I was tasting the food rather than just shoveling it in. Girlfriend said it was vaguely reminiscent of bacon and maple syrup, which excited our waitress. It reminded me of sugar-cured bacon if bacon weren't as crunchy but was on another plane of tastiness. And bacon is my favorite food, so it's hard for me to see how it could be improved upon, but man.

Third course

Black olive cake, blueberry reduction, yogurt sorbet and foam: Tasty, especially the blueberries. The yogurt sorbet was a great texture but not very flavorful (Girlfriend disagrees with "not flavorful" assessment). The blueberries were amazing. Cake was good with a nice texture and balanced flavor. It didn't taste much like olives to me, but maybe it's not supposed to be strong.

Roasted banana, mustard ice cream, brown butter rum, crispy thin lengthwise slice of banana: Mustard ice cream?! Love it--the mustard was fairly subtle with just enough bite. I'm not usually a huge banana fan but this was probably my third favorite dish. The banana and mustard was an unusual and delicious combination. Girlfriend points out that bananas are "earthy" even though no one ever says that, which may be why they work well with mustard. And again we have something to add crunchiness.

Complimentary dessert

Red bell pepper petits four: A little sugar coated gelatinous cube. "Zantar is a gelatinous cube that eats warriors in a village." --Noah Vanderhoff, Wayne's World Much softer texture than a gumdrop. Tasty and interesting. I think this is a common ending to a meal at wd~50 as well.

Drinks with meal

Chanterais (walnut cognac, dandelion Cointreau, lemon juice): I like cognac, and I loved this. The walnut was subtle but noticeable if you're looking for it. It has some bite to it with the lemon; Girlfriend thought it was too much. Knowing cognac reasonably well probably made me appreciate this a little more.

The Waylon (100 proof bourbon, smoked cola syrup): Liked it even though I don't usually like bourbon. The smoked syrup really took the edge off the alcohol without being overwhelming.

Blood and sand (scotch, sweet vermouth, bitter orange sorbet, redbach beer): Girlfriend's favorite. I don't remember this one terribly well but it was good. Don't like "blood" as part of a food or drink name.

Agua verde (tequila, tomatillo, cilantro, habanero): Very spicy! I liked it a lot because I like hot stuff.

Drinks at downstairs bar afterward

Bazooka (vodka, bubble gum cordial, house sour): It's supposed to taste like Bazooka gum, and it really did! You have to taste this just for the novelty. Not a lot of sourness, but still would have liked less--I wanted for this to be pure sweetness.

Antoine's sazerac (cognac, peychaud bitters, absinthe): Very alcoholic, but still good. Tastes more like sour mix than I thought it would, and not bitter. Also, absinthe is illegal so I assume this is some substitute, but that's fine.

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Here's my review from last Thursday night. Cliffs Notes: It was great and you should go.

pedantic notes:

1. the Blood and Sand is a classic cocktail. the one at Tailor is a riff on it.

2. Absinthe is not illegal. in theory, it is confiscated at the border, but many of us have had it couriered in for years and the better cocktail bars generally have it if you know to ask for it.

a few months ago Lucid was approved for importation so now you can buy absinthe at the liquor store.

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It's probably of bygone interest now that most everyone on this thread has probably been to Tailor and ordered this dish (or tired of talking about this restaurant), but just in case anyone hasn't and is curious, here is the photo of the Black Olive Cake (with yogurt ice cream, house-made granola and blueberries), that I especially enjoyed at Tailor. Somehow, I had failed to upload this amidst all my others.


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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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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.

gallery_28496_5239_321710.jpg

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 (log)

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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.  I tried a lot of stuff on this evening and a full report is forthcoming.

For now, cocoa to the max.

gallery_28496_5239_321710.jpg

Everything on that menu seems pretty "readable" to me with the exception of the "Duck and Eel Terrine" with chocolate consomme and sweet mango. I will be interested to hear how the consomme was incorporated. I recently had a dessert here in Kansas City where the chef is doing a chocolate consomme - a cold liquid in a shotglass. I'll be curious to see what from the cosomme takes with this terrine.

Looks like you did some fine eating at Tailor.


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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Funny how things are relative... many of you have posted that you loved the char poached in passion fruit. Well, I'm Brazilian, and for some reason fish with passion fruit sauce has become a cliché there, done with varying degrees of efficacy everywhere - so I've gotten sick and tired of it. I did like Tailor's version, obviously more subtle and refined and tender and delicate than your average salmon with passion fruit sauce served at the beach near Sao Paulo, but still - it didn't excite me.

The snapper, however, which failed to wow some of you, was my favourite. I liked the strangeness of the combo - the chilly juiciness of the watermelon, the salty olives, and the cold fish sliced like sashimi. It all came together in the mouth, as an explosion of textures.

Another favourite was the foie gras with peanut butter - I didn't find it tasted like a chocolate bar, but rather, as a carefully calibrated mixture of the 2 ingredients, with a silky, rounded mouthfeel.

I'll go against the current and recommend the agua verde drink. It was the only one I tried,

since it was huge and I couldn't have 2 drinks before dinner, but I greatly enjoyed the freshness and the layered tastes: first the tequila, then the tomatillo and, at the end, a nice sting on the lips from the habanero peppers. Like liquid food, almost.

What else... again, to show that all this stuff is very subjective, the music did bother me. It went from hip hop to folk to rock to bossa nova and was too loud. Distracting, and made it hard to hear the others at the table.

And just so nobody accuses me of being antagonistic, I'll agree with most of you in that service is top-notch, uniforms are very cool and this is, indeed, one of New York's most interesting restaurants.


Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

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gallery_36345_5265_513744.jpg

And here is a photo of the entrance - by the way, what's with the no sign policy? It's almost like it's become very uncool to put up a sign when you open a restaurant... I don't usually care, except this time it took me a couple of minutes to figure out where the restaurant was, as I walked to and fro searching for the right number...


Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

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New Yorkers like it when restaurants and bars play hard-to-get. It's an artifact of living in a crowded city; places that advertise openly seem all-too-likely to be overrun with out-of-towners and feel insufficiently "special" and local.


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Cocktails and dinner at Tailor on Sat night, in all spectacular. At the bar before dinner Alex made me an off-the-menu cocktail - a Nutty something - I can't recall, because I was too focused on how good this drink was. Walnut cognac, Benedictine, bitters. Fantastic, very well-balanced, and, um, nutty. Has autumn written all over it. Must make special mention of the ice used in my nutty whatever and in the crumble, I think. Single, large, perfect cube in a rocks glass. Gorgeous ice.

Friends had the Violet Fizz, which was subtle and well-executed, and the Charentais.

Upstairs at dinner I had the Crumble, which was so yummy (and not as sweet as I feared) and went very well with the pork belly, which was my favorite dish of the night. (Someone should have put pork and butterscotch together sooner.) The char was sublime and impossibly moist, and it worked so well with the spaetzle and coconut. I liked but wouldn't crave the snapper. Desserts were great, especially peaches and tomato and the rum banana with mustard ice cream. Questions around the table about the mustard ice cream pairing on that dish; I was the only one who thought it worked if you went really light on the ice cream.

Was surprised that the dining room wasn't full when we arrived at 8:45, and I don't think it filled up while we were there, either. Ok by me that it wasn't packed - we found seats at the bar before and after dinner. The space is comfortable but cool, and while you can tell that lots of attention was paid to detail, there's nothing overdone or pretentious about it.

Tailor definitely surpassed expectations (and what with all the talk about it before it even opened, those were some high expectations). The food was thoughtful and interesting AND it was delicious. I simply loved it all around. I feel like it's been a long time since I've said that about a new restaurant in NY.

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Just checked out Tailor last night after waiting quite awhile for this opening. I was very disappointed. My complete thoughts, with full photos, are available on A Life Worth Eating; but here's the summary.

I opted for the "cocoa tasting menu" followed by 3 plates a la carte. In order:

- Squid salad, cocoa croutons, mint

- Chocolate gnocchi, brussel sprouts, lime purée

- Foie gras, peanut butter, cocoa, pear

- Chocolate-miso cod, cauliflower purée, argon

- Duck and eel terrine, chocolate consommé, sweet mango

- Beet ravioli, cocoa caviar, orange, tarragon

- Butternut squash cake, cocoa sorbet, walnut beads, maple

- Soft chocolate, sesame ice cream, mole

- Warm peach & tomato ricotta purée, black sesame caramel

- Rum braised banana, mustard ice cream, brownie butter cake

- Blueberries, black olive cake, yogurt sorbet

The presentations for all these courses were fantastic. The flavors, on the other hand, left me unfulfilled and confused. I appreciate Chef Mason's creativity very much; but at some point, every chef needs to take a step back and look at the flavors on the plate. Why were their brussels sprout leaves with chocolate gnocchi? Granted they help vary the color; but they did so at the expense of flavor. I also found nearly all the dishes to be too sweet, even some of those from the salty section. I would consider waiting a bit for the restaurant to work out the menu; it seemed a little schizophrenic.

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