Mary Lynn Mitcham wrote this week’s Restaurants We Love column in Sunday Life. Here you go:
When you can’t get into a restaurant in the sleepy village of Buchanan on a weekend night, it generally means one of two things: Either the world is ending, or the restaurant is pretty darn good.
Photos by Xavier Mascareñas/TJN
Fortunately, in the case of Taste, which chef Ronald Campanaro owns with his wife, Alyssa Presta-Campanaro, it’s the latter. Home to a New American, globally influenced menu, the restaurant seems to be making waves not only as a neighborhood hotspot, but as a culinary one, as well.
I stopped in on a recent Thursday night — Ladies Night, when the drinks are half-price — and relaxed with a cocktail at the bar in the low-lit, cozy lounge before heading through the animal-print curtains that serve as a partition to the dining room.
A handful of wooden tables and chairs were scattered throughout the space, making for very casual dining. And if I needed more proof of that, the guy at the table next to mine, was wearing flip-flops, and that seemed perfectly fine with everyone. Adding to the casual vibe is the menu, a legal-sized Xerox copy of handwritten items. The advantage of this, I learned, has nothing to do with the ambiance, but lots to do with practicality. This kind of menu is easy to revise, which is good, because chef Ronny, as he dubs himself, changes the menu every day. Only a few staples are constants: the lamb, the chicken, the burger, and the crab cake among them.
Chef Ronny gets his fish from Cole’s Market, down the road in Montrose, his fresh-made mozzarella comes from A&S Fine Foods in Croton-on-Hudson, and the ice cream is straight out of the kitchen at The Blue Pig in Croton-on-Hudson. You have to admit, it’s hard to find fault with a newcomer who hits the ground running supporting local businesses.
I started with the charcuterie platter, which includes three meats, olives, and a small jar of bread sticks. Like everything else, the selection of meats rotate; I had mortadella, soppressata, and Tasso ham. All arrived on a rustic bread board. Thinly sliced, the meats were perfect finger foods. Though I usually love sopressata (dry cured salami), the smoky Tasso ham won me over instantly. I skipped the breadsticks and instead opted for the house bread: Focaccia with tomatoes and olives, and soda bread served with a fruity extra virgin olive.
For dinner, my friend and I went with the waiter’s recommendation: the free-range chicken and the salmon. Both were wonderful. The chicken was a pan-seared, bone-in breast. The skin was golden crispy and even the thickest part of white meat was juicy and flavorful. I loved the chicken gravy, and the side of vanilla-infused sweet-potato mash tasted more like a dessert than a superfood side-dish. The roasted fennel provided a savory counterpoint.
The salmon, too, was impressive. The fish had a nice, crisp crust and a tender inside. And the portobello, shrimp and tomato risotto, served on the side, was good enough to be an entrée on its own. The haricot verts were a perfect al dente, and the truffle Parmesan fries, which I ordered as a side, were absolutely addictive. I’ve heard locals complain about the prices at Taste, but the portions are extremely generous — where else do you get two sides with every meal?
I love a chef who loves dessert, and here there’s a host of creative offerings: white-chocolate crème brulee, peanut butter and jelly won-tons, blueberry and apple strudel, brownies, ice cream. I went with the white-chocolate crème brulee and the blueberry and apple strudel.
For me, the white chocolate in the crème brulee was overly sweet — let’s face it, really good crème brulee doesn’t need white chocolate — but the texture and the elegant golden crust were perfect. The blueberry apple strudel, however was even more delicious than I expected. In fact, I’d say it was as much of a pleasant surprise as finding a culinary destination in Buchanan.
If You Go…
265 Tate Ave., Buchanan; 914-930-7864; tasteontate.com
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Monday and Wednesday; 5:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday.
Dinner for two: $90 includes two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts, but doesn’t include tax, tip or wine
Good to know: The chef rotates dishes on the menu every day, but if you’ve had something at Taste that you want to see again, call and request it when you make your reservations. He’ll put it back on the menu for you.