I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression “You’re only as good as your last hit.“
In my family, we’ve taken that to mean you can’t rest on all the past successes — the lasagnas, the grilled flat irons, the roast chicken with crispy potatoes and more of the last week — when more meals await.
In other words, you’re only as sated as your last delicious bite.
Before you know it, another eating opportunity is just around the corner and no matter how many amazing eats you have under your (straining) belt, the next one matters greatly.
Each new meal (whether in or out) must be considered with the appropriate forethought, weighing all the options until one course of action is finally settled on.
So when my mom and stepdad talked about taking us out for our last dinner, there were so many places to mull over. The fact that our last meal was to land on a Monday night narrowed the playing field somewhat and I decided that I wanted them to try somewhere I’ve had some successes in the past.
Tasty n Sons.
This spot on Williams has long been a favorite of mine for their brunch and their killer happy hour — and I was hoping to show them one really fab burger and salad combination before they left town.
Just take a gander at what it looks like.
You’re guaranteed a rocking burger and sides at any John Gorham restaurant and any salad is apt to be pretty damn delicious, too.
Look at the radicchio salad with olives.
So I thought that we’d have no problem showing up at 4:30 on a cold rainy Monday night — who wants to eat dinner before 5 (when the bar menu closes and regular dinner service commences) other than the select few who know about their special bar menu?
The bar was packed — and the chance of getting in there to sit and order was nil. We were told by the very sweet hostess that the best they could do was set up a table and in a half hour we could be seated in the regular dining room.
In the meantime, we could just wait with a drink — and watch all those other lucky S.O.B.’s order those burgers that should have been ours.
Not wanting to risk not finding a table elsewhere, we persevered that half hour until we were finally seated.
The dinner menu was different than I remember from a couple years back — now there are some traditional bistro like dishes (think steak au poivre with a brandy cream sauce or bavette steak with chanterelles and demi-glace) but with a heavy emphasis on Southern dishes.
Think biscuits, spoon bread, fried chicken, oysters, crab cakes and the like.
Okay, let’s focus on the best of the bunch to start.
Any crab cake that isn’t pricey is probably pretty nasty (and with a fair amount of filler, too) so I wasn’t shocked by the size of the cakes for the price ($17 for two small ones) but anyone with more than a bird-like appetite should consider it little more than appetizer-sized.
The flavor was spot on, though — freshly crabby with barely any filler and with a crispy coating (Panko?) and a nice herby hit. I can’t say for sure, but it sure tasted like Maryland crab — and reminds me of a blue crab blow-out I once enjoyed in Baltimore.
Another big hits was the fried chicken.
I wish I could show you a picture of the full basket but it was all inhaled at such a rate that I was lucky to catch a picture of any of the uneaten remnants before they disappeared.
We opted for two orders for the table (each with your choice of two sides) and it was all succulent and juicy but for almost $50 for the two small baskets of fried chicken I had to wonder– should I just have made my crew fried chicken at home?
Who doesn’t love fried chicken — a straight up Southern version like above or one with a curried twist like my version here?
FYI. Here’s what fried chicken looks like in my house.
Don’t get me wrong — Tasty’s version fried chicken rested comfortably in Camp Scrumptious, but I liked some of the other food we got even better.
Like the radicchio salad they’re so famous for.
It’s not as good as the one at Nostrana, but it gets really close to its perfection.
And the mac and cheese as a side was really spectacular.
I know what you’re thinking — mac and cheese?
No, believe me, I get the skepticism. But it was scandalously rich and addictively creamy– and somehow different from all recent versions I’ve had.
( Only Beecher’s in Seattle has come close and I don’t remember that potent crunch atop in their version).
Another absolute must-do is the Grilled Broccolini with Parmesan.
This smoky rendition made me fall in love with this vegetable anew.
Well done, Tasty crew.
But lest you think the entire evening was charmed, allow me to share with you a couple quibbles.
I enjoyed the succulence of the ribs, but they were far too heavily sauced for my liking and I found both the raw onions atop and the white bread getting soggy underneath unappealing.
Maybe this treatment is traditional but neither did any favors for the finished dish.
The fries looked hand-cut and they were addictively crispy but could have used a bit of salt (and there was none on hand — a beef of mine).
I like to be the captain of my salt ship, thank you.
Nobody was feeling the Sweet Potato Spoonbread love (too sweet and one-dimensional) and the cheesy grits were just meh.
C’mon — grits should encourage pant-busting excess, not produce corny indifference.
So some big hits (chicken, crab cakes, some sides and salad) and a few duds — but the biggest challenge overall was the order the stuff came out.
I know we were told that family style is the norm here but when some of the sides came out independent of the mains to which they were to be tethered (or in our case, entirely without one of the entrees), it felt a little wonky.
Sure everyone can sample stuff as it comes out of the kitchen, but a table suddenly full of fries and an entree or two and then later more sides (without entrees) just felt weird, and it never felt like we were all able to eat something hot at the same time.
It’s like with such a big group we just took turns watching each other eat — and that felt weird for our last meal together.
To their defense, the wait staff was slammed but remained kindly and they did comp us one of our entrees (the waiter forgot to include it and it finally arrived after everyone was pretty much done eating) but still.
Family style can work — or not, and it’s a tricky balance to get food out in a sensical way sometimes.
Or maybe just with advanced age we’re all getting a little crankier and hence less able to swing with someone else’s timetable.
Nonetheless, once again Tasty lived up to its name.
Next time, though, I think I will just head over even earlier in that happy hour window to secure that burger (since it’s not available on the dinner menu) and salad combo I’m so in love with (and I’m sure more treats await if I can ever make eyes for other dishes).
If it ain’t broke, right?
Stuffed to the rafters, we took a long leisurely drive around the neighborhood, checking out the last of the holiday lights and decorated homes.
I love seeing all the lighting strategies in action–from over-the-top to simple and subdued.
After all, decorating the externals of your house is as much for you as it’s a gift for the neighbors enjoyment.
We arrived back home to find a dog that was stressed out checking out all the suitcases (he knows by now that this points to a next day departure of loved ones).
Goodbyes are always so depressing.
His expression sums it up better than I ever could.
It’s never any fun to see loved ones hit the road– especially when you love them so much.