Taste brings a reinvigorated menu and sublime cocktails to its new Central West End space.
The new Taste in the CWE is far from a replica of Taste by Niche; it’s an exciting interpretation. Owner and CIA-trained chef Adam Altnether, who began at Niche as a line cook in 2007, took over Gerard Craft’s beloved taste bar, partnering with award-winning mixologist Ted Kilgore to reopen in the former Moxy space. He dropped the “by Niche” name, created menu items that are more entrée-sized and made a few touches to the cocktail list.
The only remnant of the space’s previous tenant, Moxy, is the small, open kitchen and bar; beyond that, however, the interior feels fresh. Warm brass, gold colors, wooden floors and very low lighting create a well-thought-out steampunk look and a more elegant European ambience than its former Benton Park digs. The new space also has three times the seating capacity and a second-floor lounge with long communal tables and leather couches for private parties.
Sip & Sup
Altnether says he wanted Taste to feel like a rustic European tavern—both in appearance and with the menu. So, he beefed up portion size and added a few new dishes like a rich pork burger with homemade chips and a pub-esque fish and chips that swaps in trout. The menu is heavy on pork, but delightfully so, with bacon deviled eggs, a candied bacon appetizer with a maple glaze and a braised pork belly entrée with chilled beans. Those
undaunted by what makes up pork fries will enjoy Altnether’s version, served with aioli and mint sauce. And, thankfully, he also kept the famous pigwiches dessert—the unique bacon crème and light chocolate wafer sandwich has always been a favorite of mine.
The 40-plus cocktail menu is now presented by flavor, similar to a wine menu with “bold,” “tart” and “crisp” as some of the defining categories. Kilgore has an unmistakable flair for artisan-style cocktails, and his menu makes use of ingredients like egg whites, dandelion bitters and jasmine liqueur. On my first visit, I asked my server to make my drink selection, and she returned with the “In a Pickle,” which calls for gin, St. Germain, Velvet Falernum, lime, dill and cucumber—it smells more like a pickle than it tastes like one, and was fairly light and delicious. I also enjoyed the tart and subtly spicy “The Transporter,” which blended coconut ginger Rittenhouse rye with passion fruit and pineapple, and the “Saints and Sinners” with cognac, El Dorado rum, lime and Bittermen’s grapefruit bitters. The bold “Gold Coast Fizz,” a shaken cocktail that features whiskey with OJ, walnut and cherry liqueurs, espresso syrup and egg, was certainly a memorable drink.
And those feeling a little lost or unsure while trying to order from the long list of intricate cocktails, try one of the “what are we drinking?” options. When at Taste, it’s more fun to leave your drink of choice in the hands of Kilgore and his team of mixologists.
Pig fries with aioli and mint sauce
Photo credit: Photos by Jennifer Silverberg