Eating out is usually disappointing from a culinary point of view. Food is rarely prepared or served better than what you can actually do for yourself at home if you put some effort into it. But sometimes, sometimes you come across a place where the food is so good, you want to ask the chef if you can just sit on a stool in the corner to watch him work for a little while.
Tonite we went to a smooth, relatively new restaurant in SoHo called Tailor. It opened up in September to mixed reviews....the chef, Sam Mason, designed a crazy menu combining all different kinds of sweet and savory tastes in the same dish. Mason himself seems like a bit of an egomaniac, and there certainly seems to have been some crazy excesses (wait-staff uniforms made by an English tailor, which the staff had to buy for themselves--outrage), but the food was really really good. And the ambiance was nice as well. Waitstaff were nice, the drinks were interesting and strong. I ordered a Bohemia, which was tequila, becherovka, and naranya agria; D ordered a Crumble, which was brown butter rum, pink clove, and something called scrumpy. We had to switch after the first sip. We had decided to order one appetizer and one entree each, and settled on Peeky Toe Crab with basil, pine nut puree, and topped with a pineapple foam for the starter, and Short Ribs with pureed root vegetable (not sure what it was) and carrots. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, but the short ribs. I don't even know what to say. All I know is that when I cooked short ribs for New Years' Eve last year, I clearly had no idea what I was doing. We'll definitely be trying to get as close to that as we can in the near future. D happened to know some of the management there, and we were treated to an awesome dessert. I had the Caramelized Apple, Cumin Ice Cream, and Preserved Plum; D had some french toast thing with bacon (!) and walnut ice cream or something. Mine was totally better. I loved the cumin ice cream. The downstairs lounge is warm and down-tempo, but the thing I liked best was the decor. There were a few well-placed antique sewing machines and wire fitting mannequins--the "tailor" theme--as well as very tasteful lighting which created the perfect glow. Definitely someplace you'd want to take someone who really appreciates good food for a special occasion.
NYTimes review here: http://events.nytimes.com/2007/11/21/dining/reviews/21rest.html?ref=dining (a not-too-flattering portrait of Mason himself).