Eating Out: Part Three - Tastebuds American Bistro

    Dear Tastebuds,

    I am in love with you. From your tiny tasters which pack a punch to your ooey-gooey bread pudding which coats my stomach with creaminess to your chocolate cake which deserves some made-up name to capture the reality of its deliciousness.

    So, obviously this is not going to be the most impartial review but I can't help it, because I am in LOVE with their chef. Next time I go here, maybe I can meet him...hint hint.

    Ok, thinking cap on. Review. Go.

    Atmosphere: I am torn because the decor of this restaurant did not do homage to the heaven coming out of the kitchen. I think it would really do them well to add some hardwood in the eating area but overall, the place is quite welcoming - the walls are a nice red, the tablecloths white with black accents... then there's this vinyl black and white tile that just seems a little out of place. But you know what, at the end of the night I was feeling quite at home and cozy, so perhaps it's all part of a grander plan. Also, don't be discouraged by, desolate location across from a creepy looking motel and next to a liquor store. Maybe this place looks different in the daytime???

    Service: I make a point to mention this because it was exceptional. Our waiter was so knowledgeable and attentive. Multiple times I noticed him wait until there was a lull in the conversation before he came over to speak with us. I never felt pushed to decide quickly and he humored me like no other when I asked for a complete run-down of the dessert menu. A group of regulars came in and it was clear they were regulars because the owner greeted them with a hearty smile and a bottle of wine. It was a tad weird since we were seated behind them and the owner never came over to ask us how the meal was...just saying.


    First Course:
    Acorn Squash & Goat Cheese Brulee with Salad of WheatBerries, Pears, Dried Cranberries, and Baby Greens
    Duck Leek spring roll with Ginger Pear Dipping Sauce

    Are you drooling yet? After reading another review of Tastebuds which tooted the duck roll, we had to try it and it was wonderful, just not for me - I can't handle deep fried. But it wasn't oily and it was definitely served to order. The dipping sauce didn't do much in my opinion, but the flavor of the roll was awesome. As a goat cheese lover, I was over-the-moon for small plate #1. I've never had wheat berry to be honest but I think I am going to start experimenting. The vinaigrette had a lovely delicate flavor with the right about of sweetness and acidity. The squash was buttery and creamy and you could tell it was a seasonal ingredient, another thing Tastebuds is known for. If this is served year-round, it's my new staple.

    Second Course:
    Shrimp and chili rubbed sirloin kabobs, squash with hominy, and coleslaw
    Sirloin with squash risotto and green beans

    Looking back, I think it would have done our pocketbooks a great deal if we had skipped the entree because we were both pretty full from the "small" plates. Ok, maybe I should just speak for myself because my babe has got about 4 stomachs. His shrimp was cooked perfectly and was a tad spicy which added some extra flavor. I think we did a trade so I could finish his leftovers of that. As for the beef, also cooked perfectly and spiced nicely. The risotto didn't knock my socks off and neither did the coleslaw for Weston. But he was in love with their hominy side dish and you really can tell that the chef uses local ingredients.

    Third Course:
    Dessert time!!! If you live close by, I'd say come here whenever you are craving anything particular because chances are, they've got it covered: fruit, chocolate, ice cream, etc. Tastebuds is known for their bread pudding and after sampling it for myself, I can honestly say it is the best I've ever had. Nice and crunchy on the outside and creamy and luscious on the inside - I could taste the butter. Up until this point I'd say the best bread pudding I've had was in Chicago at the Grand Luxe Cafe, if that gives you any comparison. This version was a tad more sophisticated. The other dessert we tried was their chocolate cake which was a nice large portion of basically, pure chocolate. But it didn't get old bite after bite which was a pleasant surprise.

    So service and atmosphere aside (which weren't bad to begin with), Tastebuds offers superb cuisine at an affordable price, it'd say. Tips from me would be to just order small plates and if you're really eying an entree, order one and split it. Split everything. Except maybe the bread pudding. Because that, my dears, is just too good to share.

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