Goodbye Dale Miller, Hello Taste (30somethingth bday part 2 Electric Boogaloo)

12 Jan

The Nerd continued the birthday celebrations by making plans to take me to one of my favorite places to get dolled up and go out for a fancy dinner.

Let me stop to define my ideals for fancy dinner out:

  • First: I’m eating food that I wouldn’t want to make myself, and it tastes pretty good. It doesn’t have to be precious, exotic or expensive, it could simply be something I’d consider too big a hassle to make for just one or two.
  • Two: This food is presented in a way that is aesthetically appealing. Something that makes my eyes happy as well as my stomach.
  • C: The staff is on their game and contributes to the special feeling. For me this means providing quietly warm service that flows along with the meal, being attentive without intruding, and giving the impression they are as pleased as I am about being at the restaurant.

A prior experience at Dale Miller Restaurant provided all three in spades. The food looked beautiful on the plate. Taste-wise it was certainly comparable to other fancy venues in Albany. And what set it above other places for me: the service was delightful. So it was decided, and reservations were made. It is possible that I was so excited I started plotting my meal the week prior.

If you keep up with local food news you might know what happens next: the day before our reservation we read on Tablehopping that Dale Miller is no more, and in a few weeks the owners would be transitioning to a somewhat tweaked new concept called Taste. Something “a little more fun, a little less formal” according to the new Executive Chef. Since I’m not really looking for something to fill the spot of “less formal, more fun” you can picture me sitting in front of the computer, reading the news, nonplussed. The Nerd, concerned they’d already begun to switch over, asked if I wanted to go somewhere else. In the end we decided to keep the date and crossed fingers that during this transitional time the venue hadn’t completely lost its specialness.

It turns out we didn’t need to worry.

When we arrived the crowd was on the formal side, same as always. His suit and my LBD and pearls were certainly not out-of-place. The menu may have been transitioning to the less-formal but the service was still fabulous. We were greeted warmly, placed orders, got drinks, broke bread, and so the evening began.

One thing noticeably missing: the amuse bouche. I do love that little treat to start the meal, and my bouche was sad to be not amused. But I can understand that this custom doesn’t fit into the new Taste concept. And, really, it’s not like I *needed* more food.

First up was a mosaic: choose three appetizers for a set price. It looks like the mosaic option is getting chucked when Taste officially launches, but all the appetizers we selected are similar to ones listed on Taste’s soon-to-be-implemented “Small/Medium” menu, so I’ll give you the rundown: Kobe ravioli with truffle foam, slipper lobster tail over udon noodles in curry sauce, and Blue Point oysters with a Core Vodka shooter. As you know I’ve been resistant to bringing my camera when we go out, so please enjoy the following sketch drawn from memory (your mileage may vary):

In the future I’d pass on the lobster. The meat oddly had no flavor and didn’t mesh particularly well with the udon in curry. The Kobe ravioli was tasty, and the foam was an interesting concept although a bit delicate compared to the rest of the selection’s heavier flavor. The oysters were, as oysters are, briny and delicious. And the apple-tinged Core Vodka was a great chaser; what a lovely pair of flavors.

For mains we chose small portions of filet (him) and diver scallops (me). Since they were prepared in a way that is different from Taste’s menu I won’t spend much time going over them, except to say they were outstanding. Both were cooked perfectly (I’m fussy about the doneness of both scallops and filet) and tasted great. Good job, folks in the kitchen.

Finally, for dessert: pumpkin crème brûlée with a side of gelato. An old standard, nothing out-of-the-ordinary. But the kitchen was sweet to write “Happy Birthday” on the plate in chocolate sauce. And it was: a very, very happy birthday.

Thank you, Dale Miller Restaurant, for the great memories. And though I’d prefer you stay formal, I wish the new Taste luck in the future. I’m sure I’ll be by to check you out.

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3 Responses to “Goodbye Dale Miller, Hello Taste (30somethingth bday part 2 Electric Boogaloo)”

  1. Jennifer January 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Your dining out ideals are pretty much exactly the same as mine. Basically, cook food better than I can or take the effort that I don’t want to and make me feel just a little bit fussed over with good service. You do that and I am yours.

    “and my bouche was sad to be not amused” That line was just cute.

  2. slilly January 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I particularly love your drawings – beautiful!

  3. Mom January 25, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Just lovely ~ a true birthday celebration! Nicely done.

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