Tailor

17 Mar

            Ever since the first time I heard about Tailor, I knew I wanted to go there.  It was a veritable Auzie catching the riptide wave that was dessert-based restaurants.  While other establishments such as Room 4 Dessert, P*ong, and Chickalicious abounded, there was a j’ne se quois about Tailor that drew me to it.  I don’t know if it was the idea that savory and sweet were uniting at the hands of the former pastry chef of wd~50, Sam Mason, or whether it was something else.  Was it the talk of the inventive cocktails?  The wait staff’s clean-cut uniforms?  The nerd-chic and rockstar look of Sam Mason himself?  I don’t know.  All I know is that it took me two years to get there.

            As I pondered making a reservation at Tailor, I pulled up past reviews online.  Bruni?  One star.  Platt?  One star.  Since many people to comment on the restaurant summed it by choosing the bazooka cocktail to be the main event, I wondered where their food went wrong.  Everything on the menu sounded interesting, and after I secured a reservation there for my friend and me, I perused it more carefully, knowing well that I am often at a loss when it comes to making meal choices out.  

            Upon arrival, my friend and I joined my parents at the bar while we waited for our table.  My parents ordered the cornbread old fashioned and the Waylon, a smoked Coke and bourbon drink.  The old fashioned seemed less than exciting for me, but the Waylon was pleasing.  According to my parents, they later tried the pumpernickel raisin scotch (too raisin-y), and the blood and sand (lacked pronounced orange flavor).  

            Still, where the cocktails fell short, the bar snacks compensated.  While the average “conceptualized,” bar snack consists of hand-sweat infused salted nuts, Tailor ups its standards, producing cleaner and far more satisfying offerings.  The boneless chicken wings, formed in cubes and coated in hot sauce, had a fuss-free form and a faint compliment of bleu cheese flavor.  Meanwhile, the huitlacoche corn dogs brought me back to childhood, even though my excitement to taste the truffle-y huitlacoche fizzled when I could not detect it.  Even so, they were hot, crisp, and one of the best foods on a stick I’ve had this year.  The last bar snack I had before heading to my table was the deep-fried oysters Rockefeller.  The oyster itself was huge and juicy, and the coating provided the perfect crunchy foil.  However, they were so hot that I unfortunately missed out on the Rockefeller part of the flavor when my tongue was assailed with the scorching temperatures.  After having sampled these three snacks, I professed them to be the most gourmet stoner food I’d eaten in a while before ascending to the dining room for my dinner.

            At the table, my friend and I perused the menu, but I was completely unsure of what to order.  Luckily, I decided on the maple-poached snails with parsley, bacon, and toast as my appetizer.  After informing my waitress that I had narrowed down my entrée choices to four, she strongly suggested the famed pork belly, and thusly I assented.  How could I go wrong?  My friend was too full already for an appetizer but chose the black garlic chicken entrée.

            When my snails came, they were a picture of perfection, topped with a cloud of parsley foam and placed abundantly over a couple of baguette toasts.  I couldn’t have chosen a better appetizer; as I hungrily ate it, I knew that finishing it would inspire no regrets.  The buttery maple poaching liquid soaked the toasts and the tender snails were sublime.  Meanwhile, the parsley foam and bacon added nuances and textural contrast.  If I could eat that dish every day, I would.

            When the entrees came, I was surprised that my plate looked somewhat bare.  Five slices of pork belly were layered in a straight line vertically on the right, while an array of artichoke pieces and apple was scattered on the left.  Still, aware that the flavors of pork belly triumph over looks, I dug in.  As soon as I did so, angels sang—a chorus of hallelujahs echoed from every taste bud in my mouth.  The miso butterscotch swathed the fatty pork belly in a robe of velvet.  Although the extreme and renowned fattiness of pork belly often asks for acid to cut it, this unctuous combination did not fault.  Even though the crisp julienne apples balanced the effect, I was content with the sinful flavors of the protein.* I also noted with glee that the slices of belly were rather thicker than those served at other restaurants, offering a more satisfying bite.

            My friend’s chicken was very good, although I only had one bite.  It was tender and well-sauced, and the long beans added an interesting component.  She professed it to be one of the best meals she had had in a long time, so I assume that it was, in fact, as good as I perceived it to be.

            By the time dessert came, my friend was overburdened with ordering, and she commanded me to order her something.  Narrowing down my choices, I decided to order the grapefruit tart with white bean ice cream and tarragon, and I told her to get the coffee cake with toast ice cream, cinnamon, and raisin.

            Both desserts were very good, although I felt that my tart fell a bit flat.  The intense grapefruit flavor seemed a little raw, although it went nicely with the tarragon meringue (one of my favorite textures) and the ice cream.  My friend’s coffee cake was very good also; the cake was not too dense or too light, and the cinnamon foam was pillowy and light.  The toast ice cream was a highlight, and upon my return home, I attempted my own batch.  

            Our coffee came with Sambuca gummy bears—a welcome and tasty touch.  We also got to meet Sam Mason, who was very nice, and I got his autograph in a copy of Artculinaire in which Tailor was featured.  Needless to say, our night ended well, and I enjoyed our mignardises—chocolate covered crisp corn.  

            I will return to Tailor; my dining experience there far exceeded my expectations.  To those who only awarded Tailor a single star, I object.  It is not just a bar with some cool dranks but a restaurant with beautiful food.  My recent meal at The John Dory was very good, but I find that it had more low points than Tailor did.  Perhaps the reviewers were harder on Mason because Tailor is his flagship.  Perhaps Tailor has just improved since its opening.  Whatever the case may be, for what it’s worth, I have mentally augmented its rating.

grapefruit tart

grapefruit tart

*Does pork belly qualify as a protein, or can we now decide to choose a fat as our main dish?  I’m in either way!

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