Taste – at Hampstead

By on 14 August, 2017 in Food, Kate and Stephen, Restaurant Reviews with 0 Comments

There’s something about the summer heat that makes small plate dining so appealing. You don’t want to turn on the oven, much less sit down to a big pile of steaming food. You want someone to bring you bite-sized portions of things in a chilled out atmosphere that makes you forget, for a time, that it’s a billion degrees and full of cicadas outside. Which is a big part of the appeal of Taste, Hampstead’s newest dining option. After trusted friends told us it was delicious, we went out last weekend to see what all of the fuss was about. A quick 25 minute drive later, we were seated and given several menus to peruse.

The first thing to know is that if you’re a wine person, Taste is going to be a good place for you. They’ve got an excellent wine list, and as far as we know they’re the only place in town that serves wine tasting flights (complete with a cute little wood-and-metal carrier for the three glasses). Though we didn’t order one ourselves, the pours looked generous and people seemed happy to participate in the experience. They’ve also got a full bar. One of us ordered a strawberry mojito and pronounced it acceptable. Then again, we just got back from Cuba, where the mojitos are amazing and cost about $2. It would have been improved by a little bit of fresh strawberry and a good bit more rum.

We started with the grilled watermelon salad, which is honestly one of the best watermelon things we have ever consumed. It’s a steak-sized piece of watermelon seared on the grill and accompanied by some salad greens, nuts, blue cheese, and just a drizzle of dressing. Perfect. It’s expensive for a small piece of watermelon, but we almost ordered it again — it was that good. It’s got to be one of the city’s very best summer food items.

We also got the summer squash flatbread, which was packed with veggies and very tasty. Normally, we’re not big ricotta fans, but it works somehow with the crisp flatbread to round out the dish. It’s substantial, and almost could be a main course for one person. The bread was almost a cracker, and had real heft.

The sashimi tuna salad was not especially memorable. With three pieces of fish for $12, it’s hard to split (1.5 pieces per person). But the real problem was the cloying dressing. That, combined with the sesame crust on the fish, detracted from the superior quality of fish on offer. Taste should learn from its watermelon dish to let the main ingredients shine on their own without a lot of extra stuff piled on. We were still a little hungry after those three items, so we tried the shrimp and grits. They had a novel presentation: two fried grit cubes topped with one shrimp apiece and drizzled with barbecue sauce. The effect was, again, a bit sweet for our taste, though the ingredients themselves were good.

We’ll be back – maybe to taste some wine, certainly for the watermelon salad. The vibe in there is stripped down and low key, and the service is quick and attentive. We look forward to seeing how the menu changes with the seasons, and hope that it’s here to stay. Montgomery needs a tapas place, and Taste just might fit the bill.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with one cat, a dog, ten fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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