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The Tasting Room - longish


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The Tasting Room - longish

jacinthe | Jul 29, 2003 06:55 PM

Had early-ish (7PM) reservations at the Tasting Room last Saturday with two friends. I'd been looking forward to trying this place for awhile, yet had never gotten around to it in the past.

Seated promptly and handed menus. The restaurant's 'concept' was then explained to us - taste (appetizer-size) or share (entree-size), probably should order 9 tastes as there were three of us.

So we perused and consulted.. and came up with six to start off with. When our order was taken, however, pressure was again applied to order 9. We asked if we could then just start out with those six, and order more later if we were still in the mood. After consulting 'the book', we were told that that would just not be possible, as our tables were rebooked that evening. I don't know if it was just us, but we definitely did not take kindly to that remark (especially since it had taken a good 20 minutes to take our order). I don't know of a tactful way to phrase it, so perhaps it was the best. So we made two of the tastes share-size, and were again warned that it would be a light meal.

The first round of dishes consisted of:
-mushroom and bacon tart (share): a little tangy, the top crust reminded me of an over-sized table water cracker which was placed over the tart, the rest of which was crustless. I liked the flavours a lot, although my friends didn't.
-seared foie gras (taste), served with warm apricot halves and nuts (they were like almonds, but slightly rounder). Not as exciting as we had hoped, but the foie gras was lush and plump, and quite good, but not stunning.
-salmon tartare (taste): definitely our favourite this round. It was the consistency of... papier-mache, with this odd thrilling pop with each chew - little round balls we couldn't identify. Caviar? No, too small, too firm, not fishy enough. We finally asked and found out it was mustard seed. There were fights as to who should get the last bit.

Second round:
-poached chicken (taste), with caramelised half-shallots. I usually stay away from chicken, always scared it'll be dry when received at the table - but this one wasn't at all. It was nice and moist, and the skin on one of the pieces was great and crunchy.
-scallops (taste).. seared, and have unfortunately forgotten what it was served with. Nice and cooked on the outside, a little raw on the inside. Good, but not really rememberable (obviously..)
-sea bass (share) with this wonderful watermelon-currant (raisin?) sauce. We had to ask for more bread to sop up the marvelous sauce. Two fair-sized portions of sea bass.. and I can't rave enough about the sauce. Slightly sweet, slightly savoury - oh, just fabulous! And the watermelon chunks were great also - they'd been soaked in something spicy-chili like, so upon biting, there was the initial watermelon-sweetness, quickly followed by the spice as it hit the back of your throat.

We were actually approaching full at this point, but of course dessert had to be had. There were three choices on the menu, and upon asking for a recommendation, we were directed to the blueberry/raspberry crisp and the rice krispie sundae. The former was served with some fresh whipped cream - it was good, but a little too citrusy/tangy. Plus, there was these fabulous layers of rice krispy treat layered with vanilla ice cream floating on caramel sauce just distracting us - obviously, this one won us over.

Despite the slow slow service in the beginning, it definitely picked up towards as the night went on and we didn't feel rushed or pressured into leaving. Or perhaps we were approaching tipsy. The wine list is indeed extensive, and I have to highly laud the guy who helped us choose our wine. We had wanted a Sémillon, but unfortunately they were out of it - and we were at a loss. So he worked with us - we gave the very vague request of "not too sweet, but not too dry.. no Chardonnays, please" and had us first taste a Gewurztraminer (sp?) from NY which while labeled 'dry', was still too sweet, and then something which I forget, but was just not right. Poor him, stuck with three dithery picky girls. After a moment's pause, where you could just see him thinking, "what in the world do I do now?" - finally, a sauvignon blanc, also from New York, if I remember, was brought out, and was liked by all (so much that we had 2 bottles..)

I'd come back, in a couple of months when the menu was changed. Small room, a little noisy, but it was fun. Experimental, without going over the edge and ruining things.

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