Hello Wildcats! It's been too long since I've written about Taste, Gerard Craft's CWE bar. A lot has changed since my first post: Matt Daughaday departed to open Reeds American Table, Heather Stone took over as executive chef, and my buddy Russ became the sous chef. What hasn't changed: the food and drinks are still top notch.
We came in on the Monday following one of their Tiki nights—FOMO was in full effect. I was sad I missed all the festive tiki food and drink, but the bartenders wanted to turn that frown upside down. Two tropical(ish) drinks arrived at the table, their names since forgotten [edit: Poison Cup/Lucy in Bolivia], and down the hatch they went. Two thumbs up.
Feeling guilty about not visiting Heather and Russ sooner, I ordered...well, way too much food, but that's pretty much par for the course these days. The fried cheese curds with jalapeno aioli hit the table first and damn, they were good. You might be thinking, "they're just fried cheese curds..." but believe me: I've had some truly heinous curds at restaurants in town lately.
To counteract the fried cheese dipped in mayo, I got the tomatoes and charred corn dish, pretending that I didn't see that it also had pancetta and buttermilk dressing on it. In my head, it was healthy.
I would consider Heather's beet ravioli a new Taste classic. Sliced and blanched beets are filled with an asparagus ricotta, garnished with toasted pistachios, golden beet puree, orange zest, and finished with a white balsamic gastrique. It's beautiful in every way.
Broccoli salad with bacon, roasted grapes, shiitakes, and pine nuts finished up the last of the 'healthy' dishes—vegetables are still healthy, even when they're paired with bacon/buttermilk/ricotta!
The rest of the mains were specials from the tiki night, though I wouldn't be surprised to see them end up on the regular menu. The jerk chicken was as juicy and flavorful as chicken gets, but the almost-Filipino pork belly dish was another standout: ultra tender belly, cantaloupe, and a sweet, funky sauce.
Lamb sweetbreads buffalo-style finished things off, and even being as full as I was, I crushed this dish. If they were on the regular menu, I'd get them every time.
Dessert was the Taste classic: churros with a velvet almond panna cotta. Solid, as expected. The other dessert, a goat cheesecake, was my favorite of the two. The tangy goat cheese paired with the bright lemon zest and sugar-coated blueberries gets two thumbs up from this guy.
I expect great meals from Craft's crew, and it seems like every time they deliver. Taste is just a fantastic restaurant, plain and simple, and I'm glad to see Chef Stone making it her own.