Taste and See may be one of the best kept dining secrets in town these days. Tucked away in the old Wichita Mall on Harry St., Chef Jason Febres offers Wichitans his Latin Fusion cuisine in several unique dining experiences.
First there is the restaurant itself that is open M-F for lunch and Th-Sat for dinner. The restaurant features an open kitchen area, so diners can sit back and watch as their food is prepared. Secondly there is the “Ultimate Dining Experience”, a high-end and intimate monthly dinner with specialty themes and menus chosen by the Chef. Lastly is the “Chef’s Table”, which is a weekly five course meal with a menu chosen by the Chef, for 16 people or less. Taste and See also offers mixology and cooking classes.
We took advantage of a very good Groupon offer recently and booked ourselves two spots for the “Chef’s Table”. Finding Taste and See is a bit tricky if you aren’t paying attention, just look for a small banner hanging above the entrance. Once inside we were ushered into a conference room, complete with large table and office chairs. At first I wasn’t sure if we were there for dinner or to watch a powerpoint presentation, but judging by the silverware and glasses I figured we were in the right place. After everyone was accounted for and had full glasses of wine, Chef Jason came in and briefed us as to how the evening would unfold. He explained his thoughts on cooking and his personal cuisine style. He also emphasized that he liked to serve small portions with big flavors, something that he thinks is missing from many restaurants in town(I tend to agree with him). On this night we would be served a five course dinner that highlighted his Latin Fusion cuisine. While he and his sous chefs prepared our meal, we would be able to watch the action thanks to a large projection screen in the conference/dining room.
The first course was a light chicken spring roll with chives and a Thai peanut sauce with tahini and pineapple juice. The
spring roll was good, but what really made this dish was the wonderful peanut sauce. I love traditional Thai peanut sauce and was hesitant as to how this Latin version would compare, but there was no need for alarm, because it was very good. We were left hoping that the rest of the meal would be just as creative and tasty. The second course was a small portion of the restaurant’s popular Real Cubano. This version of a Cuban sandwich was taken to 11 with the thin and crispy bread, tender pork, ham, and tangy sauce. Any sandwich that employs multiple pork products is pretty hard to mess up in my book. The third plate was actually served in a glass, and was one of the best things I have eaten at a restaurant recently. The dish was described as a deconstructed maki roll with sushi rice, sesame-lime
marinated tuna, and plantain straws. It was the simplicity of this dish that I really enjoyed. Just three high quality main ingredients packed with flavor and texture. The “main” course was a small KC Strip with chimichuri sauce served over a bed of plantain and black bean paste. The proverbial icing on the cake was the fried egg placed on top of the steak. This dish had several different flavor profiles and textures going on, but they complemented each other nicely when eaten together. The plantain paste was slightly sweet, while the
chimichuri sauce offered some heat to balance it out. This was another great dish that left me wanting a whole bowl of the plantain paste. And what kind of dessert would you serve to finish off this wonderful meal? How about the rich chocolatey kind featuring Brazilian chocolate sauce and a splash of Irish creme. It was another excellent dish that featured a smooth, pudding-like chocolate sauce with bits of cookie mixed in. Marshmallow creme and some Irish creme topped off the dessert. The only complaint I had was that it was served in a tall shot glass, which did not allow the diner the ability to lick it clean.
Being able to watch your food prepared for you was a neat experience, even if it was a bit uneventful. I kept waiting for the chef to walk in and fly into some type of Gordon Ramsay-esque tirade, but it was not to be on this night. After our dinner Chef Jason came back to check on us and make a little small talk. He was very personable throughout the whole evening.
Steph and I were both very impressed with our dinner at Taste and See. The service and food were both excellent, and for the price I wouldn’t expect anything less. The whole dinning service lasted about two hours, but that is not uncommon for a multi-course dinner. If you don’t want spend $55 a person for this experience, the regular restaurant is always an option.