Located at 208 Lincoln Green, Starkville's new restaurant Taste has been sparking conversation on campus and around town. After opening on June 17, 2021, the restaurant serves Starkville as a casual, contemporary place to gather for celebrations, date nights or to watch the game. According to their website, it is a place to "celebrate life's victories." Taste is locally owned and proudly supports Mississippi and the community of Starkville.
At first glance, it becomes obvious how diverse the menu options are. From flat breads to filet mignon, it is safe to say there is something for everyone on this menu.
As a seasoned food reviewer, I consider many different parts of the dining experience when rating a restaurant. Aspects such as the quality and taste of the food, the service, the experience and the price are all factored into the final rating. That being said, for Starkville's new restaurant Taste, the pros far outweigh any cons.
A feature from eatdrinkmississippi.com highlights some of the bright minds behind the creation of the restaurant, Chef Jeff Thornbury and Master Mixologist Corey Jernigan. The creativity the menu and drink menu hold showcase their work much more than words can.
Taste serves lunch, dinner and brunch. When I went for dinner, the first thing I noticed was the interior of the restaurant. It had a sleek, comfortable feel to it, with an industrial style lighting system that gave the restaurant a dim lighting.
Once I was seated, I noticed how incredibly attentive the staff was. We had several servers assigned to just our one table. They were extremely helpful in explaining the dishes, as well as making sure I had a full glass of water and all of my needs met.
Beyond the attention we received from our waiter, the manager also stopped by each and every table in the restaurant to make sure all the customers were enjoying their experiences.
Michael McIntosh, the director of operations for Taste, highlighted the importance of the training and staff.
"I have a different approach to the way we train. We knew that we would have some challenges coming in. We incorporated them as our family and we do not think of them as hourly employees, but we strive to understand what family needs are, and that is one of the keys to our success," McIntosh said.
He also stated the importance of community growth and support.
"We are locally owned; we are long time supporters of the community. We open restaurants to give back to the city of Starkville. It is important to us to grow as a community." McIntosh said.
David Greer, a senior business major at Mississippi State University, went to Taste pretty soon after it opened. Greer also noticed the exceptional customer service at Taste.
"The waiter was a bit nervous. We had a second waiter as well; they seemed like they were trained very well. It was a big impression to see the knowledge of the staff," Greer said.
Though he did not remember exactly what the dish was that he ordered, he ultimately decided on a rating of 4/5.
Excellent service is only the beginning of what makes dining at Taste a fabulous experience. The dishes themselves are unique, diverse and thoughtfully prepared. To begin with, I started with an appetizer, specifically the tomato toast. This dish consists of country bread, burrata cheese, arugula, lemon oil and herbs. It was incredibly refreshing, especially after braving the Mississippi heat to walk into the restaurant.
As an avid truffle guru, I was thrilled to see several dishes which included truffles on the menu. As soon as I saw the truffle mac and cheese, I knew I had to get it. The menu describes this dish as a "cavatappi pasta, truffled cheese sauce, herb crumb and parmesan cheese." Not only was the portion massive, but it was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had in my entire life. It was creamy and flavorful with the perfect amount of saltiness. It totally satisfied all my hunger, and I was left with a pretty large box of leftovers to take home as well.
The other entree I tried was the pork tenderloin with "sweet potato, fuji apple, roasted pepper, fried walnut and chipotle bourbon glaze." This entree was also five-star quality. The meat was perfectly tender and the sweet potatoes on the side complimented the meat so perfectly.
To tie the whole meal up, I tried the Devils Food Cake, which had a delicious peanut butter buttercream and ganache. The portion was so large that myself and another were not able to finish it. It reminded me of the peanut butter pie my mom used to make for my dad for his birthday. It was a rich, sweet, dessert that was fluffy but not light.
In my humble opinion, Taste was a 10/10. The service was excellent, and the dishes were creative and well-planned with sizable portions. The wait time was almost nothing for a Friday night, and the food arrived quickly. Though Taste is a little pricey for the typical college student budget, it is definitely worth the splurge for a special date night or a celebration of any one of "life's victories."