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Fearless Critic restaurant review
New Haven
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 11:45am–9:00pm
Fri 11:45am–10:00pm
Sat 4:30pm–10:00pm
Sun 4:00pm–8:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


North Haven
1995 Whitney Ave.
North Haven, CT
(203) 230-8801
A good place to eat; a better place to try great wines at terrific prices

Taste is done up in a haphazard mélange of styles. The outside is stony English country house; the inside is late ‘90s IKEA, with blue pendant lamps and birch-colored furnishings; and then there are some strange “country hearth” touches like wreaths of cranberries. But we sort of like it; it’s disarming. Maybe we like it more because it seems humble, and with a hyper-modern New American menu like this, Taste seems like a candidate for the sort of affectation and arrogance into which some restaurants seem to descend simply because they offer some Asian fusion.

Aside from that particular gaffe (and a few more like it), the menu is sound, at times flirting with gastro-pub status with mac and cheese, meatloaf, and roasted game hen.

We’re generally skeptical of tuna-soy-wasabi preparations on New American menus, but tuna tacos in fried “wonton” shells, while hardly a subtle dish, are tender, well soy-sauced, and pleasant to eat. Ricotta gnocchi with pork, tomato, herbs, and parmesan are texturally satisfying, even if the pasta doesn’t quite achieve that lovely pillowy softness of which it’s capable.

Meats are all cooked just fine. We particularly like a pork tenderloin with a bacon and apple salad; it’s definitely a winter dish, but one we’ll happily take. Hanger steak, too, is a tender, flavorful winner. Its accompanying Gorgonzola onions are an addictive treat, and tempura asparagus is expertly fried. Sometimes the kitchen tends to cook starches into oblivion, and there are consistent problems with undersalting. Even so, its work is pretty satisfying. It simply tastes good; just sprinkle some salt on it and the flavors come alive.

The wine list is sincere and surprising, with some really exciting small-production imports at prices so low that it’s just bonkers. Try the Jean-Paul Brun, an unoaked white Beaujolais that shows off Chardonnay’s elegant potential. It’s priced in the high $20s, so why wouldn’t you get a bottle? Or try a Vouvray; the Loire Valley is arguably the best place on Earth for Chenin Blanc. Marchesi di Gresy, a Piedmont producer that usually commands prices too high for most Dolcetto drinkers, is a bargain here, and worth checking out with the pork-and-basil meatball starters.

In the end, we like Taste, but we’re not in love.

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