Restaurant Review: Taste Bay
Taste Bay made its debut on Henderson Road in November. Although the name may not necessarily indicate a particular dining theme, the joint’s social media touts international and Caribbean offerings. The angle adds a distinctly different option to a strip mall that houses a boxing club, a hair salon, and a sports bar.
The inside of the joint is spacious and sparkly new. One side is highlighted by an enormous, brightly-hued octopus mural that’s painted on the wall. Taste Bay’s laminated menu features some dishes familiar to fans of Caribbean fare (jerk chicken, for example) and mixes it up with items that are familiar to fans of more ubiquitous Tex-Mex offerings such as fajitas and burritos.
Let’s start on the distinctly Caribbean side of things with the Jerk Chicken ($10.95). Here, it’s homespun; roasted bone-in pieces with skin that is embedded with the defining fragrant, peppery jerk seasoning. The presentation is modest, but the flavors come across as notably authentic. The seasoned pieces of chicken are served with rice, tostones (kind of dry and unlovable in this context), and an old-school side salad with a tomato and red onions atop crunchy lettuce and dressed in a simple vinaigrette.
The Toston Burger option ($8.60) is more of a fusion dish, with a familiar beef burger placed between two tostone slabs that do the work of a traditional burger bun. It’s a cute idea, and the starchy fruit adds a little extra texture and interest to a combo that’s otherwise fairly conventional. It comes with cheese, tomato and lettuce, all tied together with a smooth chipotle sauce.
There’s also something called a Caribbean Burrito ($8.25). Caribbean burritos turn out to be indistinguishable from regular burritos, filled with beans, rice, a little meat (chicken), lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes wrapped inside a flour tortilla. One regretful mouthful had a surprise bonus of a mystery, non-chewable, chicken part involved. It’s best practice to look before you bite.
Some of the more interesting Caribbean items on the menu were not available during the first visit to Taste Bay. At the time, the absences were disappointing, but happily, the house Mofongo ($12.95) has since appeared. The dish has Puerto Rican roots, with few midwestern comparisons. It’s a little like stuffing, perhaps, as it’s mashed plantains amped up with garlic. The dish shares a plate with a meat of your choice. The house tender, seasoned pork is a good one, along with a simple side salad. Like the jerk chicken, there’s a distinct homespun angle.
Taste Bay’s relative newness on the dining scene means that some kinks and subsequent refinements will be inevitable. Timing and coordination can be an issue. Its proximity to other joints ensures that it will have built-in convenience clientele to help it through the learning curve as time goes on. If it can deliver on the goods promised on its menu, it will be a fun addition to the northwest side. It’s open every day at 11 a.m. It closes at 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and it’s open until 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. You’ll find it at 1132 W. Henderson Rd.
For more information, visit tastebayrestaurant.com.