Dinner @ The Tasting Kitchen
Our family dinner was a partial success. My wife loved (and did our son and I) the charcuterie plate that came out. On top of that the sourdough bread they serve is so damn, unbelievably good it was almost an out of body experience to eat it. I also got a couple of what the waitress said were "small appetizers" suitable for one person (even though the menu called them "entrees"). I don't know if that very slightly built young woman has a metabolism and appetite of a starving Hippo, but the clams one was gigantic. And it was also delicious. Along with grilled bread (the same sourdough that comes to the table hot, but not grilled) for sopping up the broth flavored with plenty of chorizo, tomatoes, white beans, and fennel.
I also tried their bone marrow appetizer. This was good, but much more of a small appetizer size and for the price I don't think I would order it again.
My wife first ordered their butter lettuce salad, which she loved and then their carbonara - which she only took a bite or two of and they took it off the bill later when the waitress observed it mostly untouched.
They make their own pastas and, if you don't like very thick and more of an almost "doughy" taste then you might skip them. My bucatini all'amatriciana had noodles almost the exact size of Udon. A little strange but the sauce was incredibly strong, bold and very addictive. My only quibble was the reduced sauce had a strong salt component, but I like salt so it wasn't a deal breaker. For those that go who know they are "salt sensitive" I would be very leery of this dish.
Our son had the hanger steak and it was fine, if nothing spectacular and a side of fries which were quite good.
Out waitress was terrific. Outside of the one small communication breakdown over the size of the clams dish (and our always hungry 24 year old eating machine helped me out) she was there when we needed her and let us be when we didn't. Water was refilled promptly, each and every time. I thought the service was excellent all the way around.
It's a very attractive space. We ate upstairs in what was probably the bedroom loft of someone at one time. The noise factor is on the high side, but not so high I couldn't carry on a conversation with my wife and son.
I even want to compliment the table of 12 which was just next to us. More polite and low key folks I've never run across in all my years of dining out. In fact the 4 top to our other side was louder than all 12 at the group table.
The final tab, (with my wife's carbonara dish graciously removed from the bill without even a moments hesitation) was $180, plus tip. That included my wife's soft drink, our son's soft drink and my one vodka drink off of their mixed drinks menu and one glass of an Oregon pinot with dinner.
I would recommend it to anyone and would go back. But I might do more research on the range of pastas they offer if I was going to delve into them again.
Thanks for the review. I've always marveled at the crowd outside of the place and wondered what the fuss was about (since I've never been and am rarely in the area). Am tempted to try it, based on your review, but will likely skip the pasta....
On a rather tangential note, I always get annoyed w/ small-plates style places b/c they seem to recommend about double the number of dishes that one would really need (and I have a *large* appetite); I always assumed that it was simply to run up the bill. =P And, yes, I understand that this isn't a tapas-style place.