Tasty N Alder: Restaurant Guide 2014

3808 N Williams Ave., 621-1400; 
3808 N Williams Ave., 621-1400 (Tasty N Sons),

[FEAST BY BITE] Ever go to one of those food festivals where you chase fish tacos with lamb kabobs? John Gorham's tradition-agnostic Tasty n Alder is like the best possible version of that. One recent meal found us starting with a salad of butter lettuce with seared ancho-crusted albacore and pepitas ($14), then zipping down to Baja for battered Alaskan cod tacos (some of the best tacos in town, and at $15 probably the priciest) and over to the Mediterranean for lamb kofta ($7 per skewer). Other excursions offered were Indonesian short ribs, Brazilian fish stew, tandoori lamb and a cowboy-style skirt steak. It's all a little muddled, sure, but it works thanks to Gorham's admirable restraint and even more admirable attention to detail. In an era where so many new restaurants arrive overdressed and underpracticed, with gimmicky themes fit for the Epcot Center food court, it's refreshing to find someone creating such a worldly experience with nothing but a steady knife-hand and a sailor's cold eyes. MARTIN CIZMAR.

Pro tip:

Pick a bar for your pre-dinner drinks before you even arrive, because you'll be waiting awhile for your table. Oh, and take the complex and very fluid menu with you.

9 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 9 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$-$$$.