Since opening in its quaint and cozy 1st Street SW location over a year ago, Taste restaurant has been one of my favourite spots in Calgary to stop by for a tipple and a bite. Taste has nailed the concept of reasonably priced, delicious small bites with Chef Shawn Greenwood’s culinary creations. Their wine list, which changes monthly and is built by the uber-crafty Sommelier Brad Royale, is perhaps the most unique in the city and always contains some oddball gems. A visit for lunch this past Thursday served to solidify the truly awesome nature of this great dining destination.
The theme for January’s wine list is “wines for your broke-ass” and every wine on the list is $10 per glass or $50 per bottle. A quick glance at the list confirmed that there are some rockin’ values this month, including a spectacular Chenin Blanc blend from South African winery Mullineux in the white’s and the 2001 Ochoa Grand Reserva Tempranillo/Cabernet/Merlot from the Spanish region of Navarra, Spain. The second item on the list however nearly stopped my heart…Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla Sherry…in a 5 oz pour…for only $10. Who has the balls to pour 5 ounces of Sherry? Taste does suckers! Attempting to contain the build-up of saliva breaching my lips, I quickly ordered a glass of Sherry and a bowl of oven roasted nuts. It was as if two unicorns were making love in my mouth. The classic notes of roasted almonds and fresh sea air in the Sherry were the perfect accompaniment to the warm, sweet/salt morsels. A true match made in heaven.
After consuming the nuts and Sherry in a gluttonous state of glee, we moved on to the next course. I opted for the beef dip, which was a near perfect take on this simple and classic dish. The Ciabatta was crisply toasted, the beef was succulent and juicy and the bubbling mass of cheddar cheese served as the perfect dance floor for the party in my mouth. A side of fresh horseradish added a refreshing kick! To wash it down I opted for a glass of Alpha Box & Dice Dolcetto from Adelaide Hills, Australia. If you’re looking for a classic example of the Dolcetto grape (which is generally found in the hills of Alba in northern Italy), this is not the wine for you. If you are looking for a rich, juicy and simply delicious glass of wine that is distinctly Aussie however, this will fit the bill nicely.
By this point our eyes were glazed with a thin-film of gluttony and we continued ordering food. As we were in the grey area between lunch and dinner the staff were kind enough to let us order from both menu’s.
The brussels sprouts were definitely not your mother’s recipe, glazed in a healthy layer of bourbon and maple and chalked full of speck (a delicious form of ham). The beef tacos were also a delight, with thinly shaved bean sitting daintily in a crispy wonton shell with a refreshing carrot salsa. And just because it was absolutely necessary we finished with one of my personal favourites…pork belly. This epic cube of meaty goodness was cooked to perfection, with a crisp underside and rich layers of belly goodness braised in beer and maple melting in my mouth. To die for!
If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to do yourself a favour and Taste the epic rainbow…because 5 oz pours of Sherry don’t come along just everyday!