Stepped-Up Southern

Stepped-Up Southern

Trotwood’s Taste puts spin on Southern and Creole classics

By Brandy King
Photo: The truffle Parmesan fries with garlic Parmesan creme at Taste Creative Cuisine in Trotwood

The first time my husband and I got geared up to try Taste Creative Cuisine in Trotwood, it was closed for the day. Their Sunday hours weren’t really limited – the problem was it was a holiday weekend and I thought it was Saturday. After double-checking their weekday hours, we went for another visit later in the week. I’m always a touch nervous when I arrive at an eatery at the height of dinner service and it’s damn near empty. It’s usually a 50/50 shot whether you’re discovering a hidden gem or you’re going to spend the rest of your evening in the bathroom wishing you’d gone to Wendy’s.

I suppose I wasn’t expecting much from the outside (the building apparently formerly housed an Applebee’s), but the interior of Taste was surprisingly chic. Clean, spacious booths and tables with linens, lots of natural light and a great looking bar that serves as the focal point.

The dinner menu is on the smaller side, but in a good way. I appreciate when a chef knows his strong points, and expounds on them. Taste’s Executive Chef Reginald Gibson has created his own blend of Southern-Creole-Caribbean and managed to parlay it all into a more upscale experience and a very eclectic menu.

I ordered an impressive cocktail, but I’m embarrassed to have forgotten the name – their cocktail menu can’t be found on the website. If you’re looking at their signature cocktail menu, it’s the very first one. Citrusy with hints of elderberry, and very refreshing.

It didn’t take long at all for our appetizer to get to the table. Everything on that portion of the menu looked great, but we decided the best prelude to our meal would be the truffle Parmesan fries with garlic Parmesan creme. I’d had truffle fries one other place – Senate in Cincy – and was expecting something similar. These weren’t at all the same, but they weren’t trying to be. They were lightly battered with a cornmeal crunch to them, and the sauce was nicely proportioned without drowning the fries. I didn’t pick up much of the truffle oil, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t delicious all the same.

Mr. FvF ordered the sweet potato waffle with Southern fried chicken, notably one of our favorite dishes. Naturally, though, I had to have a taste for research purposes. I’ve had chicken & waffles at several places throughout the South and Midwest, but not a single one of them measured up to this. The warm syrup was infused with dark rum and the butter was whipped and seasoned with cinnamon. Here’s where we see the chef’s ties to cornmeal again, too. The chicken’s batter was much more like something you’d find at a catfish fry than any other fried chicken joint. Perfectly, simply seasoned with a crunch you could hear a few tables away – A perfect pairing with the delicate sweet potato waffle.

I had wanted a good steak for a few weeks and had been too lazy to fix one myself. It didn’t seem like Taste’s strong suit, and I hated to risk ordering something they’re not known to do well – I’ve been known to “tsk-tsk” other food writers for doing so – but I figured it was worth giving them a shot. On a more limited menu, they probably wouldn’t have it featured unless they’re good at it. I am more than pleasantly surprised to report that it was in the top five most tender cuts of steak I’ve had. What I actually ordered were the beef tenderloin medallions, which come drizzled – not drowning – in Hollandaise, served alongside asparagus and rosemary mashed potatoes. Considering it was one of the most expensive menu items, I had hoped for a little bit more on the plate, though. What I thought were two thick beef medallions were actually on the thinner side – about a 1/2-inch, cooked – served atop two garlic crostinis. I’ll admit that it worked out very well for someone who likes to sop up steak juices with bread. While I’d have preferred more of the fork-tender beef, it’s not as though I was even remotely unfulfilled when we finished the meal. We didn’t even have room for dessert, which is a real shame considering their offerings included a sweet potato praline.

Service was on-par, employees looked sharp and knew the menu, and price points were pretty reasonable. There’s no kid’s menu, and I’m okay with that. I love my son, but dining with him at nearly 2 years old isn’t a treat for me or anyone else around us. I’m thankful that this was an instance of seeing a mostly empty dining room – though the bar area stayed pretty full – and having found a gem, but I’d really like to see the place filled out more the next time we visit. I suppose I can leave that challenge up to you, dear eaters.

Taste Creative Cuisine is located at 2555 Shiloh Springs Road in Trotwood. For more information, please call. 937.854.7060 or visit daytontaste.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Brandy King at BrandyKing@DaytonCityPaper.com and visit her blog, foodvsface.com. Caricature by Jay King.

 

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