When going out to a "gay restaurant", one usually thinks about places on Santa Monica Blvd.
However, just a couple of blocks to the south in West Hollywood, there are several places to eat that should be considered more often.
In particular, we recently visited "Taste" Restaurant (8454 Melrose Avenue, east of La Cienega) for lunch.
Gay-owned, so obviously gay-friendly, the patrons are not exclusively gay as you might expect on "the blvd", but you can certainly bring your partner and feel quite at home. In fact, the entire restaurant feels very comfortable with a great outside seating area as well as comfortable seating inside.
The lunch and dinner menus consist of a la carte as well as pre-fixe options that are reasonably priced, consist of fresh ingredients and perfect portion sizes.
We started with crispy rock shrimp with 3 "taste"y dipping sauces. The shrimp was juicy without being greasy and there was enough to share.
Next, the ahi tuna tartare tower with crostini - always a nice healthy appetizer.
The Thai Chicken Cups with Minced Chicken, Shallots, Crispy Rice, Peanuts,
Lemongrass Vinaigrette, and Cilantro served with romaine lettuce cups was delicious and nutritious.
For our entrees, we had a "Pizzetta" (mine with fig jam, proscuitto, gorgonzola and scallions) which was a personal sized oval mini pizza with a nice thin crust and fresh ingredients on top. The Grilled Hangar Steak salad my partner had contained tender steak and grilled onions, sundried tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese in a honey mustard dressing. The toppings were warm while the greens were crisp and cold - a great combination.
Taste has a Saturday and Sunday brunch with food options ranging from about $10-$16 that includes a bottomless mimosa if your entre is over $13 - a great way to have a nice relaxing buzz for a good price while people watching and "brunching". Both days are popular, but Saturdays are a little less crowded.
Speaking of cocktails, I had a potent and refreshing champagne sangria with pomegranate juice and fresh berries I'd definitely recommend.
Not one to skip dessert, when a chocolate brioche bread pudding was offered, I couldn't refuse. It was light, crispy on top, with a delicious dollop of vanilla bean gelato on a creme anglaise pool. The seasonal Pumpkin Crunch cake was a lighter version of the staple pie yet was even more flavorful with candied walnuts and chantilly cream on top.
Thursdays, TASTE has special farmer's market options freshly "picked" at our local farmer's market for the locavores among us.
They are currently offering a "make your own" gourmet grilled cheese sandwich which can be as indulgent or comforting as you'd expect the old-time favorite to be. Yum.
The owners are very involved in local and gay charities, offer special events (check what's on the calendar), and a great pre fixe menu of two or three courses for $22/$26 respectively.
Next time we think to go out on the boulevard, we'll definitely consider walking a couple of blocks south for some very good food with friendly staff and a great "mixed" crowd (locals, visitors, gay, straight) where you might even see a celebrity from time to time.
• Happy Hour happens Tuesday-Sunday 4pm-6pm Well drinks $4 and Specialty Cocktails $6 - Small plates are $3.50-5.
• Every Monday is Wine Discovery Monday's when Bottles of Wine are 1/2 off
• Every Thursday is Farmers' Market Dinner: Sustainable "Slow Cooking" at Taste. Come in for food of Organic Produce, All Natural Meats & Free Range Chicken and Eggs.
• Brunch every Saturday and Sunday - and a bottomless Mimosa with your purchase of a $13 Entree
• Daily Lunch Specials at Taste. $8.50 for lunch. Tues-Friday 11:30-5pm.
• "Featured Cocktail" every month - this month is a "Pomegranate Basil Sangria" served with raspberries and blueberries.
• Full Moon Aphrodisiac Nights: Every Full moon - the day before and the day after - Taste creates a special menu that will stimulate your senses - prefixed menu of aphrodisiacs.
There are 69 gay friendly restaurants in Gay West Hollywood.