Visited the Tasting Room last night on 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues and had a very positive experience all around. I recall seeing some buzz on this new place (3 months old) a while back on this board.
I was one of a party of six and we really splurged and took great advantage of the lengthy wine list beginning with a bottle of champagne followed by three different red wines over the course of our appetizers, entrees and cheese course. Lots of great wines from California and Oregon and some interesting ones including a bottle from Virgina--a 1996 Horton Cabernet Franc which was OK. My favorite of the evening was a 1996 Cain Vineyard Meritage which really opened up after sitting for a few minutes.
While the owners, who are friends with one of the members of our party, originally designed the restaurant to feature their great wine collection, they have found that people are coming in because of the food. And boy, was it good last night.
The schtick of the Tasting Room is that they offer appetizer ("tasting") portions and entree ("sharing") size portions of everything on the menu. I started last night with a lobster dish that was served with leeks and mushrooms with a golden beet sauce. It was heavenly and the lobster was cooked perfectly, almost slightly rare--the texture was sublime. I traded halfway through with my boyfriend who had lamb carpaccio which was also excellent, served with marinated sliced mushrooms. As an entree I had leg of duck served with hominy and something else that had a yam sauce. It was good but the highlight was my boyfriend's oxtail served over shell-shaped pasta that had so much flavor, it blew our group away. (Three of us had ordered the oxtail as an entree.)
We proceeded on to the cheese course and their was a nice assortment of six different cheeses served with spiced nuts, pear slices and hearty bread. A large plate was plenty for our group of six. We were just about ready to call it a night when the kichen sent out a sample of each of their desserts. Far and away the best was a goat cheese with drunken raisins and bee pollen. The owner told us the goat cheese is whipped with honey and it was really unique (to me) and delicious.
The restaurant seems to be doing very well. I saw at least four different groups turned away because there were no tables available. The place is small--I counted 25 seats and I think everyone who came in last night had a reservation. I found the service to be very pleasant and unhurried--we were there for at least three hours.
Prices for tasting size portions ran between $6 - $12 and entree size portions between $12 and $24 (I think). The wine list also ran the gamut from low to high to very high.
I found that the Tasting Room had the right balance of delicious food, great wine selections, pleasant atmosphere and gracious service to make it a highly enjoyable evening. I would highly recommend taking a chance on this newcomer.
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