In late August, Sam Mason — tattooed, punk rock, ground-breaking pastry chef of WD-50 fame — after a year of struggle, opened his restaurant, Tailor. Promising to break down the barriers and comfort zones among sweet, savory and cocktail, he crafted a revolutionary statement of a menu.
We started with cocktails ($14) from an impressive, confusing list. We avoided the Bazooka, made with bubble gum cordial, but I had a Charantais, with walnut cognac, dandelion cointreau and lemon. A friend tried the Blood & Sand, a sort of scotch Manhattan topped with bitter orange foam. They were the two best new drinks I’ve had in ages: sweet, tart, bitter, built in layers. While mine finished in a haze of bitter dandelion and rich walnut, the B&S had that lovely, never dissipating foam. We also had foam for an amuse bouche (beer-vinegar foam) and on two other dishes. Foam overkill?
We tried four “salty” dishes ($12-$15). Both the miso-butterscotch pork belly and cocoa-dusted foie gras and peanut butter terrine were sweeter than the “sweet” dishes. The foie gras relished the cucumbery bite of peanut and the crunch of asian pear. The pork belly, while surprisingly lean, swam in a pool of miso butterscotch, but pickled artichoke kept it interesting. A more-reserved dish, peekytoe crab with coconut foam and smoked pineapple, was a hit, but needed some substance. A carb perhaps? The passionfruit-poached char, with the luscious texture only sous vide can achieve, was the best dish of the evening, and, amazingly, included the night’s only other carb, in the form of pickled-lime tinged spaetzle. The olive-studded bread served was some of the best you’ll find anywhere, but they were very stingy. We had to ask for a second small slice, and then no more was forthcoming.
Our waiter was both obsequious yet disdainful, explaining, poorly, each dish, then disappearing for long stretches. For instance, my lady-friend’s dessert — of tomato foam, peach, ricotta and sesame caramel — was dropped off while she was away for a moment (a big no-no), and we were left guessing what was on the plate. It paled in comparison to a log of caramel panna cotta and farm fresh corn sorbet on addictive, crunchy coffee-cocoa soil. When I went to the gent’s, he brought the check. Sam, if you’re reading this, either train or fire the British guy. Nothing can ruin a meal like inept, rude service. Everyone else lauds the service, so maybe mine was an aberration, but if you’re going to shoot so high, to inspire both the intellectual and the primal, it takes dedication to perfection. And perfection can be thrown off where you least expect it. Just like your diners: expect nothing but surprise, revel in success and disappointment alike.