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The Payoff: Tailor

This week, Frank Bruni concluded the review cycle for Sam Mason’s Tailor, awarding a very weak one star. Although a one-star rating supposedly means “good,” this was one of those reviews that actually sounded like it meant “not-so-good”:

Mr. Mason’s personal vision trumps your pleasure. His conviction matters more than your response. This, I suppose, is the very definition of artistic integrity. But it’s not the prescription for a great restaurant.

Tailor is certainly an ambitious restaurant, and an interesting one. It has the courage to showcase the kind of experimental cooking — eccentric, provocative flavor combinations; unusual textures like foams, powders and that most appetizing of au courant coinages, “soils” — that’s been a tough sell in New York…

Mr. Mason, who made his name as the pastry chef at WD-50, belongs to a group of brainy iconoclasts (Will Goldfarb, Pichet Ong) who are challenging the usual segregation of savory and sweet. At Tailor, for example, the ice cream with a rum-braised banana is the flavor of mustard, and not even honey mustard at that.

But his infatuation with his own imagination doesn’t leave room enough for a self-appraisal of the results, for dissent from collaborators who might flag the foolhardy creations among the clever. Tailor winds up with an intermittently exhilarating but ultimately frustrating mishmash of the two.

Bruni’s review came late enough to take notice of recent menu changes at Tailor, but those changes are too new to evaluate. Ultimately, Tailor could turn out to be a much better restaurant, but for now it is saddled with a bunch of reviews that are largely mixed to negative.

Eater and NYJ both win $3 on our hypothetical one-dollar bets.

          Eater        NYJ
Bankroll $58.50   $67.67
Gain/Loss +3.00   +3.00
Total $61.50   $70.67
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 25–8   25–8

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