Just around the corner from Hotel Arts in Victoria Park (1210 1 Street SW) is the cute and trendy Taste. A tapas style restaurant with a creative menu that's perfect for sharing over a bottle of wine, Taste offers selections of hot and cold plates as well as a daily Tasting Board of either Cheese, Meat or Fish. It's a tiny place that doesn't take reservations, with a couple of community style tables in the center, but it has a patio extending seating for the summer.
We started with the Snap Pea Salad tossed with Mojito mint and pork belly. It was crisp, fresh and the mint balanced without overpowering the fresh summery pea-in-pod flavor. Next up was Kimchi Asparagus with ginger and onion. If you're a fan of authentic Kimchi, you'll enjoy this dish which was served cold like a salad.
Two of my favorite items on the menu are the Pigs Ears, crispy in chili oil and topped with two fried quail eggs and the Horse Tartare. The Pigs Ears are like a kicked-up bacon and egg plate. The pork ears were fried at the correct temperature to make them crispy not chewy, and the eggs were perfect. The chili oil takes this dish over the top.
The Horse Tartare sounds scary, granted, but if you are a tartare fan, this is an absolute must try. The meat was surprisingly tender and cleaner tasting than beef. The texture was soft with no connective tissue gristle. I love tartare and try it at every place that serves it and this is one of the best in Calgary. Topped with dijon, capers and cornichons and of course, an egg yolk. If I had one criticism, it would be that they should have sous vided the egg yolk to 63.5 degrees.
There is a connection between Taste's owner and the Perogy Boys food truck (see http://calgaryfoodies.com/perogy-boyz/ for more info) so of course, we had to try the perogies as well. Served with cheese curds and sausage gravy, they were a rich twist on the traditional.
And finally, for dessert, potted cheesecake of the day - vanilla cherry - and Kool-Aid creme brulee, in Purple, Orange and Green flavors. The cheesecake was fine but not spectacular. The Kool-Aid brulee was wonderful. Nice texture, and fun retro flavors that were creamy, sweet and tart.
Give Taste a try. The wine menu is reasonable, changes frequently and has some interesting and eclectic selections like the First Drop Half and Half Shiraz - Monastrell (Barossa, Australia) whose description reads, "Throw this in the freezer and you'll have the greatest adult slurpee of all time." They also offer a selection of cocktails, Bourbons and Scotch.