I had dinner and cocktails last night at Taste by Niche in St. Louis. Taste is a small, intimate bar done fantastically well, featuring the culinary direction of Chef Gerard Craft, who was named a James Beard Finalist two days ago. I have to say that I was impressed and left feeling once again inspired by a meal.
The cocktail list is superb, and Taste has a excellent selection of well-chosen liqueurs, mixers, and proper ingredients (even the ice is chosen for a reason). But I had excellent results asking the bartender to make me a drink that they felt like making and refusing to express even the slightest preference. The bartender made me a cocktail from green Chartreuse and Velvet Falernum, among other things, which was superb. Chartreuse is perhaps my favorite spirit, and it is rare to find someone who has cultivated the ability to make cocktails out of it, at least in Missouri. I also found an excellent glass of Loire chenin blanc on the by-the-glass wine list, which was situated amongst other superbly chosen glass pours that included white Bordeaux and wines that generally held both the acidity and the flavor characteristics to work seamlessly with a variety of foods.
And the food was excellent. We started with a very good rendition of deviled eggs, followed by a charcuterie plate, and finally a serving of octopus that was perhaps the culinary high point of the meal. I was only sorry that we did not have enough time to continue the meal before we had to leave St. Louis.
I don’t have the time (or skill) to do better justice to Taste, but I recommend it very, very highly amongst all the other restaurants you might conceivably go to if you are in the Midwest.