Finally found myself at Taste Restaurant in Baltimore's Belvedere Square last night. Been wanting to check it out for several weeks now and headed down there with The Affable Dave.
The interior decor is modern with an edge. Large Manila ropes are draped across the main dining room with pendulum-style halogen lighting amongst a red theme. Red is predominant throughout from the red upholstered chairs to the walls to garishly painted red bathrooms. The split-level floors are done in rich wood amidst a showcase kitchen and a sexy-looking glass wine room.
There's outdoor seating and a spacious bar area and they even have a cigar humidor, which could be an interesting development for our fun-loving, capricious and cigar chomping crew.
What can I say about the food? It was solid. Probably one of the most solid restaurant meals I've had in a long time. Nothing extraordinary or mind-blowing. Just solid cooking and solid food. I had a delicious Shrimp and Grits appetizer that featured slightly runny grits with chopped tomatoes and decent sized shrimp (I'm guessing U-20). The Affable Dave had the soup of the day (split pea) that he said was good but a bit on the cool side, fried oysters as an appetizer (lightly breaded and light but tasty) and the Pork Chop as his entree. My entree was the Veal Anna - lightly breaded and fried veal served on mashed potatoes with three Old Bay seasoned steamed shrimp. Again, nothing mind blowing, just solid, tasty food.
Our server suggested pairing the meal with a 2004 Mark West Pinot Noir - a light and fruity wine that matched the food tastefully. And since Wednesday night is "Half Price Wine Night", it was even more delightful. That $38 bottle of wine was notched down to $19.
While our server was on the money, the only misstep of the evening came when another server (one with dreadlocks pulled back) came to deliver food to our table. I inquired if they welcomed cigar smoking at the bar (since the bar has a cigar humidor) and he came back with a dumb look and a dumb response. Note to the Chef: fire that guy or get him into some serious training - he needs help and is a poor reflection on the restaurant.
My personal misstep came with dessert. I should have stopped after the entree. It was deliciously satisfying but I ignored my heart and continued into dessert. Not to say that dessert was bad, just that I was satiatied and didn't need to continue. I ordered the Fried Apple Fritters which is basically a peeled and cored Granny Smith Apple dipped in tempura batter, fried and served with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon powder. It was a good effort but the apple is just too darned big. When I had small bites of the apple with the batter and ice cream, it was dreamy. But you had to battle with this big apple and it was just unsatisfying.
I would have prefered to pair my dessert with a good coffee but upon inquiring which roaster they used, I declined. It is such a shame that any chef who takes their food this seriously just chooses crappy coffee to end their meals. It's a tragedy.
Overall, my impression of Taste is "solid." Just solid cooking making solid food. Good stuff and I think I'll explore the menu further in the coming months.