Instead of choosing their meals and leaving, they would ask Rose to fire them up while they sat back in cozy chairs sipping glasses of wine.
One can understand why the guests didn’t want to leave. It’s a sophisticated yet simple space, where wine is sold to diners at retail price — with no corkage fee or markups. The restaurant’s deli cases were originally filled to the brim with fresh fish and shellfish, gigantic cuts of beef and several other choices meant to disappear in to-go bags (these days the cases are a little less full, as more diners opt to stay). Half the space in the room is devoted to racks of gourmet foods, cook books and cooking tools, with stuffed chairs for pausing and casually quaffing wine. The other half is filled with tables and chairs, bottles of wine and a fireplace.
Developing a new restaurant is not easy, especially when the concept has never caught fire in Northeast Ohio. Some would consider it an endeavor akin to coming up to bat with two strikes. But Rose is no dummy. He fired up the food. And the more he bent to the customers’ wishes, the more new customers wanted to sit down and eat in the smartly designed “restaurant.”
In February, Rose took the inevitable step of shelving his original plan, hiring a wait staff and adapting Good Taste into a full-fledged restaurant that serves lunch, dinner and a popular Sunday brunch.
The shift required growing the menu from the handful of dinners he initially sold to offering 13 items plus one or two nightly specials, and adding a slew of appetizers as well.
Entrees are priced from $11 for a burger on a challah bun to $25 for a large strip steak. The steak is covered with buttermilk blue cheese (though ours came without it), and paired with hand-cut jojos and green beans. Even without the blue cheese, the steak was a bargain. It was a tender cut with a lot of flavor and seemed to me to be aged prime beef, though, given the reasonable price, it was most likely an awfully good well-aged choice.
A large serving of herb-crusted wild salmon ($19) atop an order of thyme-roasted carrots was another fine entree. The crust of herbs and horseradish with a honey mustard drizzle added flavor to the fish. Horseradish can add too much heat to a dish unless it is cooked, which turns its flavor from spicy to sweet. Rose’s moist salmon fillet had a crunchy note from provincial herbs, tamed by the slightly sweet bite of the horseradish. The combo was a refreshing change from a more traditional salmon presentation —it boosted the flavor without adding the calories of a butter sauce. Preceding the salmon was a salad of winter field greens ($5) that included dried blueberries, spiced cashews, red onions and a tasty whole grain mustard vinaigrette.
An iceberg wedge ($3) with tomato, sugared pecans and a terrific balsamic and Stilton cheese dressing was the buy of the night. Most restaurants charge at least twice this price for a comparable salad.
Beef short ribs have become one of this region’s most popular dishes, whether it is on a blustery, cold winter night or a sultry summer evening. It is a comfort food that belongs to winter but transcends reason here and is eaten year-round. Short-rib fans, take notice: Good Taste’s version ($21), braised in Shiraz wine and served on a bed of creamy smoked-Gouda-and-bacon grits along with garlic spinach, is one you need to try. The falling-off-the-bone meat is nearly as tender as the once-pale grits, turned purple from the reduced Shiraz wine sauce.
Good Taste also does lunch, serving a variety of salads, sandwiches, soups and a whimsical Kobe beef hot dog ($8). Most of the sandwiches are $8. One of the best is a molasses-brined Cuban pork ($9) that also includes ham, Gruyére, cornichons and mustard aioli. Two sides are included with sandwiches.