**** (4 stars)
Obviously, TAO is stunning. It’s probably the most impressive dining room I’ve been in, and that is steep competition. Of course, that makes one all the more suspicious that the food and service don’t need to live up to the decor. I’m pleased to say that was not the case, and I came away from TAO a fan.
I went at opening on a Sunday because I wanted a quieter environment and to avoid the club scene that develops next door later in the evening. And indeed, it was a reasonable noise level until near the end of my meal.
The compact wine list has some nice choices, including a stellar Gruner Veltliner that was wonderful with my first course, a miso crusted satay of Chilean Sea Bass (okay, Patagonian Toothfish if you want to be pedantic). It was probably my favorite item of the whole meal.
The other dish I really loved was the 8 greens fried rice, a succulent blend of veggies that I had to push away from myself to keep from finishing the whole bowl!
Tao is kind of expensive, so I ordered the largest omakase figuring it wouldn’t be all that big. I should have known I was in trouble when my waiter suggested I change tables so he’d have room to put it down! I ended up at the under-used sushi bar on a corner for four people. Holy cow that was a lot of fish for $99! Two people would have been pressed to finish it.
The various sashimi slices were good, but the highlight was the nigiri assortment, each topped with a different relish or pepper. I was less enthusiastic about the specialty rolls, which both had an almost pureed inside consistency. The “tacos” also seemed superfluous. But I would definitely get nigiri sushi here again.
Service was friendly and attentive.
I highly recommend TAO if you’re looking for wow factor, and the food is almost as good as the decor.
632 N Dearborn St