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Tailor

Expect the unexpected.

525 Broome St., between Sullivan & Thompson Sts. (212) 334-5182
Dinner: Sun.-Thurs., 6 p.m.-midnight, Fri.-Sat., 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Closed Mondays.
CUISINE  Progressive American
VIBE  Stylized speakeasy
OCCASION  Adventurous dining
DON’T-MISS DISH  Passionfruit poached char, Crumble cocktail.
PRICE  “Salty” small plates, $15-$17; “sweet” small plates, $11-$12; cocktails, $13-$15.
RESERVATIONS  Reservations accepted

Tailor is an adventure in dining – a walk on the wild side of food.

Pastry chef Sam Mason
demonstrated his innovative technique at WD-50, home of molecular
gastronomy and cutting-edge cuisine. At his funky, new SoHo restaurant,
Mason unleashes an unusual vision of “salty” and “sweet” small plates.

His menu obscures the line between savory and sweet, food and drink, and just about everything in between.

Picky
eaters beware: Chicken and vanilla ice cream make no appearances on the
menu. Think foie gras with peanut butter when screening potential
dining companions. This is a culinary tour of Mason’s avant-garde
workshop.

Walking into the restaurant conjures images of an
old-school tailor’s shop: A giant spool of fabric leans lazily against
a wall, a garment rack sits on display in the dining room. Chocolate
banquettes and crystal chandeliers offer warm dashes of elegance to the
predominately industrial setting.

Down below, the subterranean
“cocktail parlor” – a cross between a dimly lit speakeasy and a
laboratory – is crawling with a hip crowd imbibing Eben Freeman‘s (WD-50) cocktails and homemade spirits.

The
Violet Fizz was triumphant: a subdued milkshake, made with gin, egg
whites, cream and lime. So was the Crumble, a beautifully balanced
cocktail with hints of clove, pear cider and brown butter rum. Tragedy
struck in the form of a bracing, gin-based Cascade, with unspeakably
bitter aftershocks that lingered long into the meal.

Mason makes a compelling case when you forage among the “salty” plates, weaving sweet elements into inherently savory dishes.

Though
pork belly has practically become a menu staple, Mason’s interpretation
is transcendent: tender hunks of pork in a salty-sweet spill of miso
butterscotch, accompanied by whisky and cider-braised artichokes. Mason
glimpses at genius, poaching a silky char in a sublime, passionfruit
butter with doughy bits of lime-pickled spaetzle.

You’d be smart to stick with the salty side of the menu. The “sweet” offers complicated dishes with often unsatisfying results.

Tomato
foam doesn’t belong on the same plate as warm peaches and ricotta
purée. Or maybe it’s that tomato foam doesn’t belong on a menu. And
there was an exceptionally moist, brown butter cake paired with rum and
caramel-braised bananas. If only they hadn’t been marred by the sharp
overtones of mustard ice cream.

With any restaurant, there are
dishes that hit and some that miss. But here, with only six sweet and
six salty options to choose, the odds are not in your favor.

Mason
refuses to let you end dinner on a sweet note. He wages a civil war on
your tongue. The result? You leave Tailor still craving dessert.

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