by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
July 2, 2005
Colin and Renée Alevras are a match made in heaven. A great team, Colin is the chef and sommelier, providing delicious food and wine, while Renée manages the dining room, making sure the diners are at ease and enjoying their meal.
They don’t try to take influences from other places or recreate an ambiance of nostalgia for some faraway locale. They want the customers to enjoy their immediate environment: dining on 1stStreet in downtown Manhattan and savoring dishes made from fresh produce available locally.
Colin goes to the market around 10am daily and buys what’s fresh and most appealing. After returning to the restaurant, he lays everything out on a table and then decides what to make, ensuring a unique eating experience that depends not only on seasonality and freshness but also on his creative juices.
But Colin is not one into mythological perfection, and thankfully so. His approach is rather simplistic — he prepares what he believes feels right each day. Colin believes in letting the ingredients speak for themselves, and as a result his dishes aren’t necessarily the same every day. Instead of precision, he seeks to create a harmonious balance between each of his chosen ingredients. The food on the plate shouldn’t look so perfect that you don’t want to touch it; rather it should make you look and say, “I want to eat that!”
When the restaurant opened five and a half years ago, the couple originally envisioned a casual wine bar where people could come in for snacks. Two months later, The Tasting Room revealed itself as a true restaurant — though they wanted it to be casual, the food was not, and the more complex the food became, the more customers responded. They have developed a system for tasting food, retaining the theme of small plates and then adding large plates for sharing. Either way, you get to have a little bit of everything.
I really admire the integrity behind The Tasting Room. From the appealing intimacy of the small space to the tasty concoctions, there is a personal touch to everything in the restaurant that makes me want to come back.
Click here to read about our craving from Colin Alevras at The Tasting Room.
* Since publication of this feature, The Tasting Room has closed — June 2008.