Tastebuds - New Hope, PA
For Valentine's Day this year, I wanted to check out yet another new restaurant that we haven't visited, and tonight, Tastebuds in New Hope, PA fit the bill. I made our reservation about 3 weeks ago, and had nothing but great customer service on the phone, returning my call the same day I called for a reservation. I also received a nice greeting his morning, to confirm our reservation.
I first remember walking past Tastebuds a few years ago, and can remember it looking nice from the window. Unfortunately, at the time, they were not opened for lunch, and it kind of slipped my mind over the last 2 years. Even today they are still a dinner only restaurant. Two other things worth noting,which were pointed out to me on the telephone, are 1) The restaurant is BYOB (surprise, I know), and 2) the restaurant does not take credit cards, so be sure to hit the ATM before your visit.
Upon walking in, the front dining room was full. The first thing I noticed were the exposed beams, revealing some old wine planked hardwood floors up on the second floor. This had a nice rustic look to it, yet the dining room has some modern elements as well from the hanging orange lighting over the tables, to the curtain along the back and side wall, to the white leather bench seat as you walk in.
We were greeted shortly after arriving, and brought to our two top in the right side dining room. This room has rustic painted white hardwood floors, exposed beams on the ceiling again, and a fireplace filled with river rock and candles. I think there were 3 other tables in this room. Behind this room, there is yet another dining room, with a large, white, round swanky looking fabric like ball hanging like a chandelier over one of the tables.
I reached into the Riedel carrying case, grabbed our stems, and was torn between a 1975 Château Léoville Las Cases, as well as a 1998 Hartford Court Pinot Noir Jennifer's. Needless to say, I went with the old Bordeaux, and was sure glad that I did. What a surprising treat, so feel free to read my review below.
One of the nice bonuses tonight was the fact that there was no special menu, and tonight's menu was the same as last nights, and the same as it will be next Wednesday. This menu can be seen online. No high priced menu, no markups, etc. This was a nice touch, and I can definitely appreciate a place that didn't raise their prices for Valentine's Day.
For starters tonight, Zelda opted for the ARUGULA salad, with Avocado, Heirloom Grape Tomatoes, and a Spicy Corn Vinaigrette. This salad seemed very intriguing to her with the different elements, and was a nice surprise. The arugula was nice and fresh, and cleaned nicely with no grit or funk whatsoever. It had a nice pungent aroma, and some good spice as well. On the salad were small pieces of avocado, and the arugula was tossed in the very light dressing.
I was actually expecting the dressing to be more like a creamed corn, but instead it was nice and light, with very subtle corn flavors. The dressing itself was not over done in the least, and the salad meshed together very nicely with the fresh grape tomatoes.
I on the other hand opted for a hot appetizer, and went way out of my comfort zone and ordered the Wild Mushroom Strudel with Goat Cheese, pistachios, and Carousel Farm Lavender Honey.
For the longest time, I haven't been a big fan of mushrooms, mostly because of the texture, but lately I have been trying to overcome this. I really don't know why I want to like mushrooms so bad, but this was nice as the mushrooms were meaty, yet had a very light flavor to them. They didn't overpower the dish in the least, and combined with the goat cheese, this really made for a nice dish. But as I have said in the past, and as Zelda will confirm, how can you not like anything wrapped in puffed pastry?
The lavender honey also added a very nice element. I will say that I am no a huge honey consumer, however, this was very tasty. The lavender was so subtle that I had a hard time picking it out. But the flavors of the honey were very vibrant, and very fresh, with a nice sweetness to it. I think I am going to have to order some soon. In short, this was a nice dish, and I would definitely order it again.
Zelda opted for the Crunchy Paillard of Chicken Breast with soy shitakes, whipped potatoes, and a tarragon jus. This came out, and was a nice chicken breast, pounded thin, with nice shitake mushrooms on the side, served over a bed of whipped potatoes.
The chicken itself was breaded, and cooked very nicely. There was a nice even browning on the breading, and the chicken was cooked through perfectly, and was nice and juicy. Sometimes, you will order a breaded chicken piece like this, and there will be charred spots from where the chicken has been overcooked. This was not the case at all here, and all of the different ingredients melded together very nicely. The mushrooms were good and soft, and the tarragon sauce added a very nice, and flavorful element to it.
As perfect as the filet would have been with the mature Bordeaux, I was in the mood for seafood, and opted for the Firecracker Gulf Shrimp, with coconut basmati rice and toasted cashews, with a tangerine honey. The sweetness on this dish was elegant, and not overpowering in the least. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and were the furthest thing from firm. They had a really nice texture to them, and the rice was a nice match. I really enjoyed the sweetness of this dish, and that is something that I do not say very often. The coconut was barely noticeable, and that was appreciated. The last thing I want my dinner to taste like is a Caramel Delight Girl Scout cookie. Not the case at all here, and this was nice.
Surprisingly, we saved room for dessert, and ordered a special that was not on the menu. This was a chocolate espresso mousse with a framboise sauce and whipped cream, and was nice, light, and tasty. They make this from decaf espresso, so be not worried about staying away all night after this one. The chocolate was nice and rich, and was the perfect portion for the two of us to share. It was light, and just capped off a really nice meal.
So overall, I am very happy that we came to visit Tastebuds. For just over $71, we each had a starter, an entree, and we split dessert. That is a small price to pay in my opinion for food of this quality, on Valentine's Day nonetheless, but as I have said in the past, that is the beauty of visiting a BYOB.
The service tonight was outstanding between our two servers. They were both very pleasant, quick, and attentive. I didn't feel rushed in the least, and we were not pressured in the least. Unfortunately, I didn't get either of their names, but kudos to the staff for giving us great service on this lovely Valentine's Day. Kudos to the chef as well
I also thought the decor was nice, with some rustic charm, as well as some modern elements. Parking however is not super convenient, but you really cannot fault the restaurant for that, as everywhere in New Hope has this same issue. We were lucky and parked a 1/2 block up the street.
All in all, the service was great, and the food was good. Was it the best meal we've ever had? No, but all the dishes were well thought out for the menu, and well executed. A very pleasant Valentine's Day, and I look forward to going back and re-visiting Tastebuds this summer! Cheers!
Hours: 5:30PM Wednesday-Sunday
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Credit Cards NOT ACCEPTED - CASH ONLY
49 W. Ferry Street
New Hope, PA 18938
DONT GO IN SUMMER WHEN IT IS HOT! They have 2 air conditioner window units that attempt to cool the space with a fan in front of one to try to circulate the air, and no ice buckets for white wine. We went in August last year. Need to go back in cooler temperature but the heat in the restaurant, atleast 85 degrees during apps, took away from the charm of the place entirely. Our Hobbs Chard got pathetically warm, our Pinot was hot by the time we ventured to drink it. Go spring and fall, I'm sure it will be good.