THE TASTING ROOM (this restaurant has closed)

Friday night my sisters and I decided to have dinner at The Tasting Room in SOHO/NOLITA. The Tasting Room used to be located in the East Village on 1st Street and has moved to this bigger location. There is a bar area when you walk in with some tables to sit at, and then two more rooms to dine in. It is very open, simple, and homey, yet still modern with some unusual artwork adorning the walls.

The menu, helmed my Colin Alevras, is very market driven and all the ingredients are supplied by local farmers "who take pride in raising their animals and vegetables carefully and responsibly." That is what is quoted on the bottom of the menu. You can also choose what type of portion you want for all dishes: a smaller portion being "Taste" or a larger portion being "Share". This is nice cause it gives the diner the opportunity to try a little bit of everything.

For starters we tried the Hen-of-the Woods Mushroom Salad, Duck & Pork Terrine, and Fresh Wild Abalone.

The Mushroom Salad came with carrots, dandelion, potatoes, and rye toast. It was excellent. The mushrooms and everything else on the plate tasted so fresh and delicious. I could eat this salad all the time!

The Duck & Pork terrine came with pickles, Colby Clothbound Cheddar, and pear mustard. This was also very good, and the mustard was the perfect compliment for the terrine. It gave it a nice little tang to the flavor.

The Abalone came with X.O. sauce, bacon, burdock, and cress. I have no idea what burdock or cress is (wait-Google says they are both leafy vegetables), but again the dish was very fresh and very tasty.

For entrees we had the Red Bream, Porcini Mushrooms, and Violet Hill Farm Mutton Loin.

The Red Bream came with leeks, jerusalem artichokes, chanterelles, and bush okra. It was an excellent fish dish. It had a crispy top and tender meat. It was just so clean, and fresh. I loved it!

The Porcini Mushrooms came with Rose Finn apple potatoes, carmelized onions and a coddled egg. Now, I would never think that you can have just a mushroom dish as an entree- but let me tell you, it can be done. This was a great dish. Chef Alevras does wonders with mushrooms. The flavors were amazing. Everything was perfectly seasoned, and this is another fresh dish I'd love to have all the time!

The Violet Hill Fam Muttoin Loin came with spinach, parsnip puree, and red onions. It was perfectly cooked and delicious. I loved how the mutton flavor and the parsnip puree went so well together.

For dessert we had the Butterscotch Pot de Creme with marcona almond biscotti and Hazlenut Semifreddo with cinnamon caramel sauce and a hazlenut cookie.

The Butterscotch Pot de Creme was fine. I didn't really taste too much butterscotch flavor, but I still enjoyed the dish. The Hazelnut Semifreddo was also very nice and enjoyable. I liked both desserts because neither were heavy, and they were a nice satisfying end to a great meal.

So, if you are looking for a restaurant where you can really taste how fresh all the ingredients are in each dish, and where the chef takes pride in all the ingredients used, The Tasting Room is the perfect spot. You will never look at mushrooms the same way again!

The Tasting Room

264 Elizabeth Street (at Houston St.)

New York, NY 10012