November 17, 2010

Taste on Melrose, West Hollywood

Taste on Melrose is a charming and cozy restaurant nestled on a popular stretched of Melrose with Comme Ca just down the street. Diners are greeted by a large patio area scattered with heat lamps and a very friendly host. There is a small set of stairs that lead up to the comfortable dining area inside. The decorations give the restaurant a very modern feel and the table settings give it sparkle. We were seated inside next to an open French door that looked out onto the patio, which made for a good place to people watching and get a feel of the patio without sitting outside. Everything on the menu sounded delicious and although we were tempted to order everything we decided to save a few dishes for our next visit. Good thing because I found out there is also a location in Palisades, which I imagine is more romantic and a great spot for date night.

Pomegranate Basil Sangria with raspberries and blueberries

Taste offers a featured cocktail every month and the November star is pomegranate basil sangria. The drink is served in a huge goblet containing fresh berries and large basil leaves. There is also some champagne in the drink that gives it some nice bubbles. A wonderful balance of sweet and tangy I couldn't put the drink down it was so tasty. This was by far the best sangria I have ever had at a restaurant. Can't wait to sample more of their cocktails during happy hour.

Thai Chicken Cups minced chicken, shallots, crispy rice, peanuts, lemon grass vinaigrette, romaine lettuce cilantro

There is something about lettuce cups that always call out to me when I see it on the menu. The dish arrived with six pieces of romaine lettuce, a dish of minced chicken and sauce. The minced chicken was moist, flavorful and nicely complimented by the lemongrass vinaigrette. The lettuce was fresh, crisp and provided a nice contrast to the textures and flavors. Be generous when spooning on the vinaigrette, it is delicious. This was a very refreshing and tasty dish to start off our meal.

Crispy Rock Shrimp wasabi aioli, spicy aioli, thai sweet & sour dipping sauces

The rock shrimps were fried to absolutely perfection. The light batter really allow the freshness of the shrimps to shine and the natural flavor to come through. The kitchen staff obviously cares a lot about the food because not a single shrimp was over cooked. All the dipping sauces complimented the shrimp and none over powered. I have found my favorite crispy shrimp!

Ahi Tuna Tartare ahi tuna, avocado, mint, dill, jicama, spicy aioli, crostini

Tuna tartare is one of my favorite dishes to order at a restaurant and my eyes lite up when I saw it on the menu. This tuna tartare had very substantial pieces of tuna mixed in with some avocado, jicama and herbs. The tuna was fresh and the tartare was well seasoned. The jicama provided a nice crunch and slight sweetness to the dish that really elevated the flavors to another level. The spicy aioli gave the dish a creamy texture and subtle spiciness. The crostini was light and thin and held up well after every bite. Everything on the dish worked really well together. A very successful and satisfying dish.

Ravioli of the Day three cheese ravioli"

The idea of a different ravioli everyday puts a big smile on my face. When the waitress told me about the three cheese ravioli I knew I couldn't resist. The seven raviolis were huge and packed with cheese. The ravioli skin had a nice bite and the filling was seasoned well. The tomato sauce was fresh and garlicky and made the cheesy filling shine. A delicious plate of ravioli and I look forward to trying another ravioli of the day.

Braised Short Ribs all natural boneless red wine braised short ribs, cippolini onions, carrots, horseradish potato puree, gremolata, shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese

This dish was lip smacking good. The braised short ribs were incredibly tender and covered with a tantalizing red wine sauce. The horseradish potato puree took my taste buds to another place with a perfect touch of horseradish. The smooth and creamy puree tasted great with the short ribs. Every component of this dish was expertly prepared and it all came together beautifully. Although everything was great, this was my favorite dish of the evening.

Regular Coffee
2.75 (comes with refills)

The black coffee can only be described by one word: excellent! It had a nice strong flavor with very good aromatic balance and no bitterness. Served pipping hot, just the way it should be including the refills. The price is also very attractive especially when most restaurants charge $4-5 for mediocre coffee.

Key Lime Pie graham cracker crust, chantilly cream, lime zest

The main problem I find with key lime pies at restaurants is the subtle key lime flavor. The pie at Taste did not have this problem. The strong key lime flavor was nicely balanced by the crispy graham cracker crust and chantilly cream. If I closed my eyes, I could see myself sitting on the beach in Miami. The only downside to this pie was the extremely thick crust on the edge. Fortunately, it was saved by a quick dunk in the coffee. Graham cracker crust biscotti anyone?

Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding creme anglaise vanilla bean gelato

Wow! I have never been a fan of bread pudding, but the chocolate brioche version at Taste has changed my life. The warm, moist, chocolaty bread pudding mixed with creme anglaise and gelato was absolute heaven in my mouth. I think I had an out of body experience because I was completely full when dessert arrived and somehow managed to eat every bite. That's how good it was. Bravo! Thank you Taste for putting together this delicious creation.

Overall, the food, the atmosphere and the service at Taste shattered all my expectations. The wait staff was friendly and attentive. The water glasses were refilled and coffee never ran out. The food came out at a steady pace and change of silverware was almost unnoticeable. The restaurant had a very relaxing vibe, which I love after a busy work day. The portions are generous for a restaurant on this stretch of Melrose. I can't wait to go back and try more of the offerings at Taste.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Taste on Melrose
8454 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Valet is available and there is metered parking on the streets.

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