Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Tasting Room


Beachfan
 Share

Recommended Posts

Had dinner at the new Tasting Room last Friday. I was very excited, although a little aprehensive as the original incarnation was one of my favorite restaurants in the city (as an overall experience food, atmosphere, service, wine...) I had nothing but outstanding experiences at the original and loved the taste/share concept. The ingredients were always outstanding, almost always very well prepared and generally creative.

I (purposely) did not read any of the reviews here before going as I did not want them to influence me. Unfortunately, my experience was very similar to what was described by previous posters.

Atmosphere/Physical space: With the size of the new restaurant (the bar area is the size of the old restaurant, with about 20 or so tables in the back), it definitely did not have the intimate feel of the old restaurant, although I did like the design (lots of exposed brick, casually but nicely decorated, kind of upscale casual without trying to be overly hip). I would imagine eating at the bar/front room would have a very different feel, and might give a little more of the intimate feel of the original, although obviously you'll have a lot of diners going by you coming in and out.

Service: The service was very much the same feel as the original -- knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and unpretentious which was very nice. Good to see some things don't change. Good recommendations/descriptions of various dishes and wines. Additionally, we were a party of 6 and a few of our companions arrived about 20 minutes late for our 6:30 seating (which we were very apologetic as I hate being late). Originally, the host warned us that there was a large party coming at 9 -- not to pressure us, but to find out when our party would arrive. During the meal, he came over and said, not to rush as they were able to rearrange things to accomodate. Overall, the service was excellent and impressive especially since they're about 2 months open.

Menu: First thing we noticed, no Taste v. Share. Standard appetizer / entree menu. We asked about it -- response was that with the size of the new restaurant and the larger menu, would be too difficult for the kitchen/service to handle that way. I'm not sure I completely understand that, but whatever. Our server went back to Collin (the chef) and asked if they would be able to do "shares" for us since that was what we wanted. They said "no problem". Interestly, they basically just doubled the size (and price) of each.

Price: Appetizers were mostly in the $10-$16 range, entrees $24-30

Bar: Nice selection of cocktails, with homemade sodas and condiments. Had a very yummy (I forget the name) mix with Bourbon, Lime and Mint. Nice addition to have the bar.

Wine List: Very similar to the original, very US driven, featuring many smaller producers, with lots of selections in various price ranges. Still a highlight of the restaurant. Lots of good options in the $25-$50 range. And an interesting variety of wines by the glass. In the past, they rotated the by the glass wines -- hopefully they will continue..

Food: Unfortunately, here's where the original restaurant really shined, and the new one fell short. It doesn't fall flat on it's face, but is not up to par with either the smaller version or it's peers. Everything was good, nicely prepared with fresh ingredients, but the combinations were not inspired and nothing made me go "wow". Of the appetizers, a cold pear soup was a little bland and only hinted at pear. Blowfish tails were the winning appetizer (never had blowfish before), pan fried in a catfish style, firm yet moist. On the entrees, the tilefish and striped bass were both nicely cooked, but the preparations were surprisingly bland. Pork shoulder also was uninspried -- almost like large slices of ham steak without anything of interest. Surprisingly no red meat at all on the menu. Desserts weren't anything special -- a decent peach cobbler and chocolate torte, but nothing to write home about.

Overall: If it was "just another restaurant" I probably would have enjoyed it more. But coming from the pedigree of the original, I expected much more from the food and it didn't deliver. I'll remain optomistic, that Collin will figure out how to bring back the more interesting combinations of flavors that the original restaurant features on this more traditional style menu and obviously much busier (and larger) kitchen. I'll probably go back (maybe eating in the front room) in a couple of months and give it another whirl -- hopefully the kitchen will be more in stride by then. As of now, a little dissapointing, but not without hope...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to speak for Eatmywords but I think it's fair to say that he disliked The Tasting Room more than I did but has had superlative things to say about Blue Hill.  I found that telling.

You can speak for me. (just this once : ) I can't add very much other than I wanted to love it as much as everyone esp since I never made it to the original.

The apps you forgot were the chicken terrine w/was very good (a tartar like texture) except it didn't come w/bread/crackers. (We used the dinner rolls w/was disappointing since I ate two already and would have liked a different texture/taste). I though it odd.

A bigger disappointment was the smoked eel and coleslaw. -reminded me of a good deli slaw (w/raisins and apples) but w/minuscule pieces of over salted eel. Not good.

I think my pork was done sous vide. It had a prime rib texture w/was interesting. Too bad it was loaded with webby fat. (I trimmed away some 20%) - Little Owl pork chop comparison? -no posiblay amigo!

As you mentioned, the fish were seared fine if a little overdone but had little seasoning. All these dishes resembled decent Country Club fare. I don't understand (with their cutting edge reputation) how they could send plates out like this.

Also, I don't get the Blue Hill (lite or other) mention/comparison. BH is much more cutting edge/molecular/adventurous/better. To me, TTL was like bland classic French w/a lean on organic/good ingredients which, per my experience replaced the need for flavor/sauces. Put simply alot of it was pretty bland.

I agree with Doc re good atmosphere makes for a (delusional) better experience and vice versa. Unfortunately, TTL's very warm aesthetics and friendly service did not counter balance the price and execution.

I'd like to think we hit an off night or menu but for the prices I don't know if I'll be back.

That wasn't chicken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I don't get the Blue Hill (lite or other) mention/comparison.  BH is much more cutting edge/molecular/adventurous/better.  To me, TTL was like bland classic French w/a lean on organic/good ingredients which, per my experience replaced the need for flavor/sauces.  Put simply alot of it was pretty bland.

Surely you jest. Can you explain what aspect of the cuisine at Blue Hill is "molecular", "cutting edge" or "adventurous"?

M
Link to comment
Share on other sites

. . .

(Although in the end the cooking at Blue Hill might be more superficially simple-seeming than truly simple:  I haven't eaten there enough to find out, but suspect that based on what people like Bux have written.)

I'm tempted to ask who else is like me. :raz:

Indeed, there's very little that's nearly as simple as it appears coming from the Blue Hill kitchen. In that one way, the food reminds me very much of Daniel Boulud's food. Both seem to sublimate the raw ingredients, which is odd because from both kitchens the dishes often seem pure and simple. They are pure, but highly complex. Perhaps I can explain what I mean by having to buy a slew of ingredients to make a tomato soup from a Boulud recipe. I recall buying a head of fennel because the recipe for eight people called for one stalk of fennel. Would we have missed the fennel stalk if I omitted it? I don't know, for in the end, the soup tasted like pure tomato soup. Likewise, those shots of soup they serve as amuses at Blue Hill always seem to be simple, until you strain to pick up the underlying currents. My impression is that even if you don't strain to get those undertones, they affect most diners in a subliminal way.

I mean to try The Tasting Room, but the prices aren't inducive. Blue Hill opened with much lower prices and earned a loyal following before they dared raise prices slowly to what they are now.

I did try, and recommend as a neighborhood restaurant, InTent on Mott between Spring and Prince, though it's perhaps destined to develop a trendy clientele. I don't think it's a destination restaurant, at least not a place one shouldn't miss on a trip to NYC, but it's well above what one should demand from a local place with its current prices. The online menu shows apps at $8-11 (vegetarian options at the low end and cured salmon or octopus at $11) and mains at $16-25. ($19-23) if you ignore the eggplant tagine and black angus sirloin steak, not that I have reason to believe either is not a good buy. I'm just looking to narrow the range of most offerings. Desserts are $9.50 and worth it. This is François Payard's restaurant and the dessert chef is a protegé. I'll expect prices to rise as the clientele gets steady.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I don't get the Blue Hill (lite or other) mention/comparison.  BH is much more cutting edge/molecular/adventurous/better.  To me, TTL was like bland classic French w/a lean on organic/good ingredients which, per my experience replaced the need for flavor/sauces.  Put simply alot of it was pretty bland.

Surely you jest. Can you explain what aspect of the cuisine at Blue Hill is "molecular", "cutting edge" or "adventurous"?

I'm not Eatmywords, but perhaps he's like me. My sympathies if he is. :biggrin:

Perhaps I could expand my previous post to support Eatmywords', although I don't generally think of Dan's cooking as "Molecular." On the other hand, he is a relative pioneer in sous vide cooking and works with some pretty sublime flavor combinations, it's just that they're far more sublime than one expects when one eats in a restaurant known for molecular cuisine. I recall the time I complimented Dan on a particular fish dish we had. He asked if I wanted to know the secret ingredient, in a way that implied I would be incredulous if I were told. Then he said "mango sorbet," holding up an empty container as proof. Trust me, there couldn't have been a pint's worth in a week's worth of fish. I didn't taste it. On the whole, all those terms are meaningless in comparison with the experience of the food itself. A meal at Blue Hill can be edge-of-your-seat exciting if you put yourself in the hands of the kitchen. That satisfies whatever I want out of cutting edge adventure. I don't know that I would have chosen to say what Eatmywords said, but I think I understand what he meant. In the end, I don't think Dan would be the spokesman for sustainable agriculture with as wide a reputation as he's received, were it not for the way in which he handles his provisions. Apparently he's making himself known in Spain for his "farm-restaurant" and will be a participant at Madrid Fusion next year.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you know what I find interesting?

that chicken leg appetizer was completely out of place with the other dishes. it was perfectly cooked, well-seasoned and in a terrific, indeed, velvety and unctuous, sauce.

and, unlike the other dishes, it has apparently been on the menu all summer. if they developed a set stable of 6-8 dishes of that quality for each season, and then vary a couple other dishes daily...instead of the entire menu....it would be worth every penny.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I don't get the Blue Hill (lite or other) mention/comparison.  BH is much more cutting edge/molecular/adventurous/better.  To me, TTL was like bland classic French w/a lean on organic/good ingredients which, per my experience replaced the need for flavor/sauces.  Put simply alot of it was pretty bland.

Surely you jest. Can you explain what aspect of the cuisine at Blue Hill is "molecular", "cutting edge" or "adventurous"?

I'm not Eatmywords, but perhaps he's like me. My sympathies if he is. :biggrin:

Perhaps I could expand my previous post to support Eatmywords', although I don't generally think of Dan's cooking as "Molecular." On the other hand, he is a relative pioneer in sous vide cooking and works with some pretty sublime flavor combinations, it's just that they're far more sublime than one expects when one eats in a restaurant known for molecular cuisine. I recall the time I complimented Dan on a particular fish dish we had. He asked if I wanted to know the secret ingredient, in a way that implied I would be incredulous if I were told. Then he said "mango sorbet," holding up an empty container as proof. Trust me, there couldn't have been a pint's worth in a week's worth of fish. I didn't taste it. On the whole, all those terms are meaningless in comparison with the experience of the food itself. A meal at Blue Hill can be edge-of-your-seat exciting if you put yourself in the hands of the kitchen. That satisfies whatever I want out of cutting edge adventure. I don't know that I would have chosen to say what Eatmywords said, but I think I understand what he meant. In the end, I don't think Dan would be the spokesman for sustainable agriculture with as wide a reputation as he's received, were it not for the way in which he handles his provisions. Apparently he's making himself known in Spain for his "farm-restaurant" and will be a participant at Madrid Fusion next year.

Well, I have to doubt the assertion that Dan B was a pioneer in the field of sous vide cooking, if only because the all knowing Wikipedia says Troisgros was doing it in the 70s. While I appreciate some of what they do (and, as you've said, their technique is not as simple as it appears in many cases), increasingly the result is bland and uniteresting even though the ingredients and preparations are great. (that is, they do exactly what they intend to do, but what they intend to do isn't great). Eatmywords' choice of words just seems very very odd in the context of their food.

Also, as a side note, Blue Hill's bread and cheeses can be quite shameful.

M
Link to comment
Share on other sites

you know what I find interesting?

that chicken leg appetizer was completely out of place with the other dishes.  it was perfectly cooked, well-seasoned and in a terrific, indeed, velvety and unctuous, sauce.

and, unlike the other dishes, it has apparently been on the menu all summer.  if they developed a set stable of 6-8 dishes of that quality for each season, and then vary a couple other dishes daily...instead of the entire menu....it would be worth every penny.

And what I then find interesting is how powerful first impressions can be.

See, I go into the new location the first time and have the stuffed chicken leg and think, "This is really good." Then for an entree I have a plate of chanterelles, scrambled eggs, and potatoes, which is a dish that almost can't help being good (if rather basic). Now maybe if it hadn't been preceeded by the chicken leg, but rather something equally basic, I'd have called "bullshit." Maybe I'd have said the mushrooms should have been a bit better-seasoned -- and aren't they kind of expensive? But coming off the stuffed chicken leg, the mushroom dish just seemed, I dunno, artful. And I don't think anyone really thinks desserts here are a problem.

So obviously (and along with the foregoring there's the spectacularly good treatment I got as a guest there) I end up well-disposed to this place.

Maybe it's all cuz I started with the chicken leg.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I don't get the Blue Hill (lite or other) mention/comparison.  BH is much more cutting edge/molecular/adventurous/better.  To me, TTL was like bland classic French w/a lean on organic/good ingredients which, per my experience replaced the need for flavor/sauces.  Put simply alot of it was pretty bland.

Surely you jest. Can you explain what aspect of the cuisine at Blue Hill is "molecular", "cutting edge" or "adventurous"?

I'm not Eatmywords, but perhaps he's like me. My sympathies if he is. :biggrin:

Perhaps I could expand my previous post to support Eatmywords', although I don't generally think of Dan's cooking as "Molecular." On the other hand, he is a relative pioneer in sous vide cooking and works with some pretty sublime flavor combinations, it's just that they're far more sublime than one expects when one eats in a restaurant known for molecular cuisine. I recall the time I complimented Dan on a particular fish dish we had. He asked if I wanted to know the secret ingredient, in a way that implied I would be incredulous if I were told. Then he said "mango sorbet," holding up an empty container as proof. Trust me, there couldn't have been a pint's worth in a week's worth of fish. I didn't taste it. On the whole, all those terms are meaningless in comparison with the experience of the food itself. A meal at Blue Hill can be edge-of-your-seat exciting if you put yourself in the hands of the kitchen. That satisfies whatever I want out of cutting edge adventure. I don't know that I would have chosen to say what Eatmywords said, but I think I understand what he meant. In the end, I don't think Dan would be the spokesman for sustainable agriculture with as wide a reputation as he's received, were it not for the way in which he handles his provisions. Apparently he's making himself known in Spain for his "farm-restaurant" and will be a participant at Madrid Fusion next year.

Bux, you are one of the master-egullet-articulators. -Nothing more I can add to your elequent break down of BH. It's right on. :raz:

But perhaps my "molecular" ref was excessive. (We all know this topic, what is/isn't molecular, can be discussed to death). I'll digress w/the notion that BH does cutting edge/innovative cooking esp w/produce. (Take the Summer Salad on the current menu finished with a mushroom gelee or the Tomato salad with w/frozen cucumber and watermelon). Is it as avant garde as WD? Ofcourse not. But compared w/our meal at TTR, I think so.

That wasn't chicken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The old Tasting Room was one of my favorites. After reading the reviews here, I'm not sure I want to visit the new version - it would be too depressing.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will still stay on the record as thinking the new location is MUCH better.

The location may be better, but it certainly sounds as if the food isn't.

I actually enjoyed the small, cramped room. It gave the place a unique character. I know it was uncomfortable for some, but it reminded me of days past. Going through those doors was going back into a simpler period of New York City.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And for the record, as someone who ate at both BH and TR (old one) many times, I don't think they are similar at all. Both top shelf, but very different.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK wiseguy:

I will stay on record as thinking the food at the new location is MUCH better.

Gee, I was sarcastic without meaning to be. I really thought you meant the physical plant, not the food.

But as I recall, you didn't enjoy the food at the old Tasting Room, so it really had nowhere to go except better for you.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I have to doubt the assertion that Dan B was a pioneer in the field of sous vide cooking, if only because the all knowing Wikipedia says Troisgros was doing it in the 70s. While I appreciate some of what they do (and, as you've said, their technique is not as simple as it appears in many cases), increasingly the result is bland and uniteresting even though the ingredients and preparations are great. (that is, they do exactly what they intend to do, but what they intend to do isn't great). Eatmywords' choice of words just seems very very odd in the context of their food.

Also, as a side note, Blue Hill's bread and cheeses can be quite shameful.

Daniel Boone was a "pioneer" long after Asian migrated to and occupied North America. He was a "pioneer" in the same territory as well. It's all relative. He was a pioneer in the way that Boulud and Bouley were early adapters of the technique in the US. Perhaps "pioneer" was not the best word, but there's clearly historical precendent for that usage. Were I writing a legal brief and not a web post, I might well have spent more time on the subject and chosen my words more carefully.

I've never had cheese at Blue Hill. The bread is probably the low point of any meal I've had there. I've never found it shameful and am willing to admit, without shame, that I've eaten my share of it.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mi chamocha ba’kochayvim, Bux?

Mi kamocha, nedar bakodesh?

Nora tehilot, oseh feleh?

Bux has asked me what this means. It's an adaptation of a very old Hebrew prayer. As adapted, it reads:

"Who is like you among all the other writers, Bux?

Who is like you, glorious in holiness,

awesome in praise, doing wonders?"

It was just my restatement of Bux's question above as to who was like him.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

although I often disagree with him, I think Adam Platt's new review of the Tasting Room in New York magazine captures the place accurately:

and this one quote says it all: "A pile of chanterelles with an egg broken into them tasted fine, but $32 seemed like a lot to pay for what is essentially a side dish."

he ends up giving it two stars on a five star scale (while noting that he was giving them the benefit of the doubt for reputation)...which I see as roughly equivalent to one star on the Times scale.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

StrongBuzz is reporting that the menu has reverted to the format from the old space. Can anyone verify?

The first time I had dinner at the Tasting Room, with Julie and Kiri, the menu had been modified to conform to standard appetizers and entrees from the signature Share/Taste format. We were disappointed by that change, but on my last visit, the original format had been restored.

Edited by mikeyrad (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Had dinner there Friday night with a friend known to the chef. It was fine, but not memorable. In fact, I can't remember what we had!!! They are back to the taste/share menu. Our mains were the tile fish, duck and ham. All were good, solid two star. They added, without asking, as a comp, large plates of oyster musrooms, I think they were oyster mushrooms. Probably the best dish of the night. We also had a squash soup, and another mushroom dish. Can't remember the rest. Cocktails were good, wine list favors American and red at the moment. Food was good, but Perry Street and Blue Hill are both more memorable in a roughly similar price range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, at least according to the menu they post outside.

But the prices are still much higher.

Yup, it's Taste/Share...had dinner there the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and it was pretty over-priced for what it was. But enjoyable none the less.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, at least according to the menu they post outside.

But the prices are still much higher.

Yup, it's Taste/Share...had dinner there the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and it was pretty over-priced for what it was. But enjoyable none the less.

Yes, it is a little pricey for what it is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...