Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By NANCY HEISER
(Continued from page 1)
Cara Stadler opened Tao in June after building her culinary resume with restaurateurs in Beijing, Shanghai and France.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
22 Pleasant St., Brunswick. 725-9002; tao-maine.com
HOURS: 5 p.m. to close Tuesday to Saturday. Tao will close for vacation from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12.
CREDIT CARDS: Mastercard, Visa and Discover
PRICE RANGE: $5.80 to $15.80 for small plates meant to be shared
RESERVATIONS: Yes; strongly suggested on weekends
BAR: Full. Intriguing wine list and specialty drinks, beer, plum wine, sake
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes
BOTTOM LINE: Uncommon food prepared expertly, with special attention to new and complementary flavors, textures and visuals. The results are surprising and enticing. A creative kitchen melds the best of Far East seasonings and food with local ingredients when possible, and seldom gets it wrong.
Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:
* Poor **Fair ***Good ****Excellent *****Extraordinary.
The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.
Stadler, who opened Tao in June in partnership with her mother, Cecile, has an impressive culinary background working with renowned restaurateurs in Beijing, Shanghai and France.
Tao's atmosphere is a stylish and attractive combination of contemporary decor with graceful Asian touches. The entry has comfortable low sofas, and the bar is set at a striking angle near the kitchen. On the holiday weekend we visited, our server said she wasn't a regular, and there were a few details on the menu about which she wasn't well versed. But other than that, service was gracious and careful from phone reservation to exit.
In a recent 2012 roundup article, New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells wrote, "Arguing about whether cuisine can be art is fruitless, but without question great restaurants have the same power to reshape our perceptions."
That's Tao. I've felt that way on every visit, and I've been four times. With a few exceptions, each dish is like encountering a new miniature work of art.
I find it remarkable that this well-traveled, 25-year-old chef is turning out such uncommon food after just six months in business.
Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at: