I tried to lower my expectations before going to Tar & Roses since I had read all the rave reviews, and had been unable to get a reservation for months. It's hard to visit a restaurant like that and not ultimately be disappointed.
Luckily I was with a group who likes to share and isn't afraid of trying things like crispy pig ears. The ears ended up being more chewy than crisp, but the honey glaze made them sweet like candy, and if you like to eat candy before starting your meal then here's the starter for you. The roasted English peas that I heard were life changing were, well, charred pea pods. I do like the sweetness a char brings to food, and combined with the chewy pig pops, I felt like I tackled dessert first, but as far as the life changing thing, I must report that things have been pretty status quo since this meal.
The jalapeño tartate was unique with bright colors and taste and I got a two fer with lightly dressed greens on top of the thinly sliced red meat. The squid ink octopus and vegetables was another beautiful dish that had some brains beneath.
The whole fried snapper for two is a staple on the evolving, seasonal menu. It's a nice display and how can you really go wrong with anything fried? It looks like bread topiary in the shape of a fish. You pick a pre-cut block off and throw it in the sweet, spiced dipping sauce. When you reach the carcass, you'll swear that you tried to order something healthy by going with the fish, but you started with dessert for your apps so any means of healthy eating left when you sat down.
Presentation and flavors were big, bold and beautiful.
Service was friendly and accommodating and the energy in the room was palpable, but not overwhelming.
So did it live up to the hype? I ate some very good dishes that steered off the boring steak, fish, poultry path and I liked the creativity with the seasonal ingredients. I'll look forward to returning, assuming I can get in.