Tastings has been on my list since it opened—unfortunately I missed the first chef, but recently a couple of different people have recommended it again, so I took one of my girlfriends and we did a lunch date there the other day.
My first thought was I was sort of surprised it was open for lunch since there was no one in there when we got there (a few people showed up later, but that was it). I guess since it is connected to the Conrad, maybe they have to be open? We chose a comfy couch to settle into and then got our little card to try some wine tastes. This place has these fancy machines hooked up to various wine bottles and you put whatever amount you want on your card and then go try 2 ounce portions of whatever wine you want (the 2 ounces range from about $2 to over $10 for a few). When you figure out how much they are making on a bottle of wine with these 2 ounce prices, you realize they are making a large profit here, but it was still fun to try several things, and it was fun to be with a very wine knowledgeable friend to help pick some interesting choices. Also, if you get lucky, they will offer you a couple of free end of bottle pours as they did with us (they were putting the new bottles in the machines).
Food-wise, we got quite a few different things, and again, it was fun to sample various plates (it generally is a small plates type of menu). We started with the blue cheese chips ($5) which were very crisp kettle style potato chips topped with melty blue cheese and a creamy sauce. Honestly, even though it was basically just a fancy chip and dip, it was probably my favorite thing of the day. The chips were crisp enough to stay that way the entire lunch and there was enough of the blue cheese for all of them. They were nice and hot when we got them and I would order them again.
Next we had the Mediterranean Sampler platter ($12) which had red pepper hummus, a white bean and sundried tomato dip and a tomato and mozzarella bruschetta-type topping. They served it with a bunch of pita and toasted bread. It was really a portion for way more people than just the two of us, but we enjoyed trying all the different things anyway. We both liked the hummus the best—the roasted red peppers gave it a deeper flavor than just plain hummus and it had a nice garlic flavor as well. Neither of us was as sure about the white bean dip. It was really thick—not so much of a dip as it was a spread. The beans weren’t really mashed up that much. It had a slightly strange flavor that I couldn’t put my finger on. Not sure if it was from the tomatoes or vinegar or what. The diced tomato topping was seasoned decently with basil and a vinaigrette type dressing with little chunks of mozzarella on top, but the tomatoes had little flavor on their own. I also wished the toasted bread pieces had more flavor on their own and were toasted a little but more. I can’t say I would order the white bean dip or the tomato topping again. The hummus was pretty good though.
We also shared a filet mignon flatbread pizza ($11). They are little square pizzas and this one was topped with a tomato sauce, gorgonzola (we both love our blue cheese), caramelized onions, and pieces of steak and drizzled with balsamic glaze. This was probably my least favorite of all the things we had. There was just too much going on, and I definitely could have done without the tomato sauce—it really conflicted with all the other flavors to me, especially the balsamic on top. The beef was little tiny pieces and after being warmed on top of the pizza became overcooked.
We also shared some of the “Best Chocolate in Town” truffles as well ($10). At this point, I was pretty stuffed, and we ended up taking some of them home, but I really liked the flavor of the Wee Mac truffle. Didn’t think I would dig beer flavor in my chocolate, but it was good—really good. I like that the restaurant is using truffles from a local maker too.
Our server was really nice—explained how everything worked and even though he obviously wasn’t busy with lots of customers, was around when we needed him and left us alone when we didn’t. And the free wine tastes didn’t hurt. Even though the food didn’t blow me away, I think this might be a fun place to return to with a group of friends—I enjoyed trying the different wines--even if you just ordered some cheese to go with it off the menu.
It’s been open awhile—so who has been? Have you had menu items that you really enjoyed?
50 West Washington Street