When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Taylor's Place Location: 5053 North 44th Street Open: About a week Eats: American, Mediterranean Price: Under $20 (lunch), $20+ (dinner)
Residents of the Arcadia neighborhood may still remember Taylor's Cafe, the 11-year-old breakfast and lunch spot located on the northeast corner of 44th Street and Camelback that was sold and became Daily Bistro in 2012. Well, it's back. Or at least, the former owners are.
The team behind the old Taylor's Cafe has purchased Daily Bistro and transformed the space into a bright space around the corner from that other restaurant specializing in healthy eats. This time around, however, Taylor's Place is serving dinner in addition to breakfast, lunch, and brunch with a menu that focuses on Persian and Lebanese cuisines.
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During breakfast and lunch, which are served from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, Taylor's Place serves a large menu that blends American classics with a Mediterranean and Persian dishes. The lunch menu, for example, offers beef and chicken shish kebabs, as well as a raspberry chicken salad and a hamburger. Breakfast options go a more American route with burritos, crepes, omelets, waffles, and usual morning spread.
It's at dinner, served after 3 p.m., that you'll find the most interesting menu, one that features almost exclusively dishes of Lebanese and Persian origin.
We started with a Taylor's Platter ($10.95), which includes hummus, tablouleh, dolmeh, and moutabbal. It's a well-sized starter for three or even four people to share, which isn't really a problem once you start tasting each element.
The best of the four may have been the tabouleh, a refreshing mixture of tomatoes, parsley, and cracked wheat -- though the dolmeh (the Persian version of Greek dolmades) made a close second. Each of the stuffed grape leaves offered a pleasing vinegary flavor and a flavorful filling of rice and spices.
The hummus was also fresh, though maybe not the most robust in flavor; it paled slightly in comparison to the moutabbal, an eggplant mousse similar to baba ganoush, though with slightly more spice. No matter which you prefer, you're almost guaranteed to need an additional side of pita to make any measurable dent in the dish.
On the other hand, you'll want to save room for the large entrees. Of those we tried, the Sultani ($16.95) was an easy favorite. The dish includes a tender strip of filet mignon barg with meat that's marinated in oil and spices before being skewered and grilled. There's also a strip of koobideh, a kebab made of ground beef flavored with onion, parsley, and spices -- the flavor and texture is reminiscent of a meatball, in a very good way.
Served with a side of saffron dusted basmati rice and a single (but quite good) grilled tomato, this makes for a heavy dish. For a slightly lighter option, you can also opt to have half rice and half grilled vegetables.
The Lamb Barg Kebab ($14.95) is also a good choice. Though you only get a single strip of marinated lamb, each piece is fork tender and offers a pleasant char. The Zereshk Polo with Chicken made less of an impression. The dish featured two pieces of chicken in a sauce of barberry and saffron and though the meat was practically falling off the bone, the flavors lacked dimension.
For drinks, diners can choose from a selection of beer (draft and bottles) as well as a nice but succinct list of red and white wines. There are also some remarkably affordable classic cocktails -- just $5.95 each -- including a French 75, Old Fashioned, and more.