Truth be told, we really didn't want to go to TAO at all.
After managing to escape from Il Vagabondo with not one bocce ball game to our name, we had intended to go to Mr. Chow, mere blocks away, for cocktails and squab (which is the Best Thing I Ever Ate choice - we don't generally make a habit of eating pigeon). Sadly, however, when we arrive at Mr. Chow, eyes focused on the bar, we are unceremoniously turned away. Why? "People do not sit at the bar. You must order dinner."
Now, call us crazy, but why have an ample number of stools surrounding the bar if people aren't allowed to sit on them?! The whole policy seems ludicrous to us, so we turn away in a huff (or more in a baffled state of mumbling and confusion, but we like to think it was a "huff") and refuse to patronize the joint.
"Did you smell that place?" Ginger asks. "It smelled like lilies. Dying lilies. How could anyone eat in there?" It seems as though Ginger has either been so overwhelmed by Mr. Chow's love of overbearing florals, or she is consoling herself about not being granted a seat at the bar with unrelated (if completely accurate) rampages about their use of fragrance.
So this circumstance is how we end up at TAO. And truth be told, we we are not so happy to be here.
You see, TAO had been featured on the LAS VEGAS episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate, but since the dish, Chris Santos's choice of the satay of chilean sea bass, is also on the menu at the New York location, we figure we can bang out the consumption of it here.
|These Aren't Your Freezer's Fish Sticks|
"Momentarily" being the key word.
"You know what this is like?" Ginger asks. "It's the kind of place where the Real Housewives of New Jersey come when they think they're having a big night out in the city." Now, Vodka is not one to normally let her home state be disparaged in this way, but even she has to admit that the place reeks of EZ-Pass and hairspray. Indeed, despite the fact that we are rather loyal fans of certain Times Square chain restaurants, there is an underlying stench of "trying too hard" at TAO that we cannot warm up to.
We can, however, warm up to their cocktails.
|It Only Took Us, Oh, A Half Hour to Procure These|
|This Was Probably a Cohesive Plating Plan the First Time They Did It|
The dish is also $19, which seems a bit steep for what is essentially a three-bite appetizer.
|Sally Sold Sea Bass by the Sea Shore|
"How do you know if you're a yang or a yin?! Is that supposed to be common knowledge?!" Ginger asks, forcing a helpful gentleman to point us in the right direction (for the record, we are "yin"). "This place is too much for me," Ginger relates. "Up until recently, I thought there were 56 weeks in a year."
|56 Weeks in a Year, 56 Cocktails in a Month, Same Difference|
We can also guarantee that if we ever do go to Las Vegas, we may not be the only ones drinking cocktails before noon, but we will most certainly be the only ones to be finished for the day by 4:00pm, complaining about the crowds, the noise, the lighting, and all of that gag-inducing hairspray.
TAO's Satay of Chilean Sea Bass: 3 stars