The atmosphere of Taste on Melrose is quintessentially West Hollywood: dark and romantic, yet with an unmistakable sense of whimsy.
While the prices on the dinner menu are an accurate reflection of that elegant vibe, Taste also features a terrific Happy Hour menu, with a wide range of drinks on the cheap and an equally impressive, eclectic group of appetizers.
As far as drinks go, pretty much everything at the bar is marked down. You’ve got bottled beers for $3 (Dos Equis, Amstel Light and Sapporo), well drinks for $4, and excellent classic martini's for $5. There are also several specialty cocktails for $6—all of which would cost twice as much practically anywhere else.
Our waiter recommended the Taste Cooler, which combines three different types of liquor, as well as muddled fresh mint. The result is somewhere in between a long island iced tea and a mojito. It was tasty, and certainly boozy enough to warrant the price, though the anise-flavored liquor comes on a little strong in the flavor balancing act.
You can also choose from a number of snazzy appetizers, nearly all of them coming in at under $5 (the one outlier is the Carne Asada Pizzetta, which is $5.25).
There’s standard happy hour fare like onion rings and fried calamari, as well as some more unusual offerings: the mini-kobe meatballs are melt-in-your-mouth tender, and come dressed not with tomato sauce, but rather with a Papaya BBQ sauce and roasted corn salsa. It's a great mix of flavors, and the sauce has a nice backburning heat that cuts through the initial sweetness.
The best item we tried was the white truffle oil and mushroom mac and cheese, where the woodsy flavor of the truffle oil plays beautifully against the opulent cheesiness. It’s a delicious, deeply satisfying take on the classic, and a steal at only $4.25. Thai Chicken Cups with lemongrass vinaigrette are a little unruly to pick up, but work as a refreshing contrast to the other, richer items.
Taste has a wonderful atmosphere, great for a group of friends and even better for a date. And with their generous Happy Hour menu on offer every Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., even those of us with lighter pocketbooks can indulge in a little class.