In a One Horse Town: Expect 5 Stars
By Antoinette May Herndon
Birthdays are always special—most particularly when they just happen to be your own.
This year when husband Charles asked me where I wanted to celebrate mine, I didn’t hesitate. Taste won in a heart beat.
There really is no better restaurant around than the tiny town of Plymouth’s no longer secret treasure, Taste.
Charles and I have been sneaking off to indulge ourselves at Taste ever since it’s opening four years ago. In those early days going to thesophisticated bistro was a little like belonging to a private club.
It was a happy surprise when two other Taste habitués, Sally and Dick Tuttle, and two newcomers, Ginger and Barry Griffin, decided celebrate with us. I love being the birthday girl! (Who doesn’t?) And what better setting for a fete than Taste?
For one thing, just the approach to the restaurant is such a magical surprise. With its simple frame exterior, Taste looks just like its century-old neighbors.
But one tug on the big fork-shaped door handle of the ancient building and you’re in for a startling “through the looking glass experience.”
Suddenly, it seemed, we were transported from ordinary to urbane. There we were in Craftsman Center, an Art Deco paradise of wood-plank floors, ochre-hued walls, golden light and dark wood furniture. The resulting ambience is sleek, suave, but also warm and friendly.
Perhaps you recall Taste’s owners, Mark and Tracey Berkner, from their days at Volcano’s St. George Hotel. The couple met some ten years ago while working as hotel line cooks. In this fabulous new incarnation, Tracey manages the restaurant while Mark cooks up a storm in the kitchen.
We were a happy, silly sixsome full jokes and opinions. It was difficult to pin us down on anything. What wine to have? Why, we hadn’t even agreed on whether or not to pull the troops out of Afghanistan!
between them the sommelier and the—the—well, let’s just call her the beer lady. (Taste has a beer lady, you know.) Tracy Reiser, the owner -manager, has a very extensive beer list. Tracy told us that she is studying to be a certified cicerone, the beer equivalent of sommelier.
Turned out we really needed Tracy’s expertise. Ginger wanted a very light beer and Dick wanted a very dark one. Ginger received good karma with a beer appropriately named just that-- Karma, a Belegian Pale ale—fruity, light roast with a hint of cloves and lemon. $(5)
Dick went with a lusty Reutbert Export Dunkel –a German brew of toffee, chocolate and roasted malts. ($9)
I wanted a full bodied pinot noir, so Charles selected Hand Made— which really is hand made especially for Taste. It was $11 and very much worth it. Suffice it to say I had a second glass. It was my birthday, mind you. Charles chose a Hather voignier for himself--$8.75. Very elegant. Barry enjoyed Three Riesling ($7) As for Sally? Guess what? She ordered milk.
When it got more serious. Charles ordered the evening’s special, butternut squash soup. ($7) It was fabulous and I should know I stole several sips. (A birthday girl is entitled.)
Sally and I split an order of fig salad with possibly the best vinaigrette dressing I’ve ever had. ($11) Such a good idea that Barry and Ginger followed suit with a plate split of the same.
For a main course I picked the short ribs which were as tender and succulent as you can possible imagine. ($32)
Charles was very pleased with his Seared Day Boat Scallops. Very choice and elegant looking. ($29)
Ginger and Sally chose fresh swordfish which looked and tasted divine. ($30) while Barry went with grilled guinea hen with persimmon gingerbread pudding, spiced cranberry sauce with crispy sage. ($26)
Dick’s choice was a real winner: a double pork chop served with braised calypso beans plus pear and walnut salad. ($30)
special surprise was a delicious rum cake that Robin Aldredge baked and sent a long as a surprise. The Taste staff decorated elegantly with candles and chocolate, Thank you, Robin.
Time now for a caveat. Perhaps you were wondering when or if I would get to it. Taste is expensive, no getting around it.
Is it worth it?
In my own opinion, yes, definitely. You don’t have to be wealthy to dine at Taste, but you do have to do consider food, wine (or beer!), service, and ambience to be key components to a life worth living. Taste consistently offers top quality and that sometimes involves a little financial planning to make it happen.
I think peace of mind is worth something too. For most of us, Taste is reserved for celebrations: anniversaries, graduations, promotions and, of course, birthdays. Isn’t worth something to just relax and know it will all be wonderful.
VITALS: Taste, 9402 Main St., Plymouth, 245-3463. Open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30, and Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 9. Taste packs in crowds every night, so make your reservations early. Credit cards accepted. Here’s an additional suggestion: Taste’s wine list showcases excellent local foothill wines as well as an impressive collection of international selections. The wine service is top notch, but if you want a cocktail first you’ll have to go elsewhere.
Charles and I have taken to stopping by The Dancing Bear Bar and Grill just a few doors up Main St. for a little pre-dinner libation. It’s a bare bones bar but the martinis are good and well chilled and the scotch is excellent.
Ginger Griffin enjoyed good Karma the other night at Taste, Yes, Karma is indeed a popular choice on an extensive wine list.
A birthday cake sent by Robin Aldredge was a special surprise at Taste.
Debbie Mielke, the jewel of the wait staff corps, offered Dick Tuttle exciting selections for an entrée at taste.