Review by Christine Basile
Nestled in the quaint historic Village of East Aurora is a café that has the community buzzing.
Taste, a local coffee shop, has become a popular stop among locals and visitors to get their caffeine fix or a delicious lunch at an affordable cost.
After getting the chance to stop by multiple times, I can definitely see why this is a strong community staple.
Like the unique town it is located in, Taste has its own eclectic style. The warm, neutral colors in the room create a comfortable seating area. Scattered across the room are tables of all shapes and sizes, providing seating from one to a dozen. Small candleholders are placed on the tables to provide a little more light, despite large bay windows in the front of the store and industrial-styled lighting above.
On the walls behind the bar are chalkboards with a colorful array of art work and menu items along with Taste's seasonal drinks, sandwiches, soups and more. From drinks packed to the brim with caffeine to smoothies and Italian sodas, this restaurant has something to quench everyone's thirst.
For this summer, Taste has adopted the theme of "Lobsterfest" and brought the theme into the indoor and outdoor decor. By bringing lobster to the menu, Taste brings a taste of Maine to Main Street. Next to the counter, there is a gigantic board with lobster-based specials. One menu board of drink specials features characters from "The Little Mermaid" to liven up and catch the eyes of fans of all ages. Outside, Taste's signature steaming coffee cup now is accompanied by a lobster cage, nets and decorative fish. The colorful display draws in customers and provides a lively, but laid-back place to sit and eat.
A view of Taste from Main Street in East Aurora.
The "Lobsterfest" specials menu.
The first time I visited, I decided on getting two of Taste's summer specials: the Harbor Sunset Lemonade ($4.95) and the Drunken' Lobster Nachos ($13.95).
The Harbor Sunset Lemonade was made in house with fresh lemons, ice, Taste's homemade simple syrup and house-made blue tea, which is an herbal tea that has no caffeine or sugar and turns a beautiful dark blue hue when brewed. This gave the drink a layered effect, starting a soft purple at the top and turning into a bright yellow at the bottom of the glass.
After stirring it together, the drink was a refreshingly (but not overly) sweet lemonade with floral notes from the blue tea.
The Drunken' Lobster Nachos were a generous portion of crispy tortilla chips covered in a velvety, cheesy vodka sauce with large chunks of buttery lobster with parsley and chives for garnish. The vodka sauce had a luxurious taste to it, not being overly spicy or gritty from the cheese. It enhanced the buttery, soft lumps of lobster. The fresh parsley and chives added bright pops of flavor, creating a more complex and well-rounded dish.
Taste's summer drink, Harbor Sunset Lemonade ($4.95)
The Drunken' Lobster Nachos ($13.95) from Taste's "Lobsterfest" menu.
The second time I went, I wanted to take advantage of some of the delicious sandwiches on the menu.
All the names of the salads and sandwiches at Taste are wordplay on popular Western New York places such as "The Vidler on the Roof" (named after the country store, Vidler's), and the "Croyroft" (a twist on the famous Roycroft Inn and Restaurant and the Roycroft artisans).
I ended up choosing "The Wedgie," a black bean and cheese quesadilla served with salsa, sour cream and a side salad cut into wedge pieces ($9.95). Named for the wedges it is cut in, this quesadilla is not only filling, but has a good flavor With a combination of spices, cheeses and black beans, this meal was full of flavor each time I took a bite. The only thing I would change about it is maybe another aspect of crunch besides the little bit from the tortilla shell.
Since it was hot, I decided that I would get one of Taste's crafted Italian Sodas to-go ($1.95). From their wide selection of flavors (including vanilla, lime, caramel and more), I chose ginger. The slight spice of ginger made the soda taste similarly to ginger ale, but was more refreshing and not as sweet.
The "Wedgie" sandwich ($9.95) served with a small side salad, sour cream and salsa.
The first time I went to Taste was midafternoon - just after the lunch rush. While a cashier was not manning the counter, the gentleman working the sandwich and salad station greeted me and told me she would take my order shortly. Sure enough, about five minutes later, my order was taken. The cashier was nice and courteous, but ended up taking my order slower than I would have liked. The problem was that she was not speaking loud enough and I could barely hear her when the espresso machine turned on.
After my order was placed, my cashier gave me an order card with the name of a celebrity on it that would be called when my order was ready.
I was impressed by the unique experience of the entire restaurant, and I was entertained by the staff's fun attitude. Overall, it was good service that left me satisfied from the experience. I decided to return a second time about a week later.
For my second visit, I went around dinnertime, and the place was alive with customers of all ages getting dinner. I had a different cashier, whose enthusiasm was infectious. I found myself smiling and enjoying the customer service much more than my first visit. I was impressed that, while she had power in her voice, she was not overly loud.
Even though all of the staff members were busy, they were happy and keeping their customers happy, too.
Taste has been bringing smiles, coffee and sandwiches to East Aurora for over five years. While there are different levels of excitement with live bands, busy lunch and dinner rushes or even a quick coffee break, Taste continues to impress and surprise its guests. For these reasons, I give Taste an overall 4 out of 5 stars.