Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dining Out at Restaurant Tallent

Last evening my husband, one of his business associates, and I ate out at one of Bloomington's finest restaurants.

I have to admit that I have been wanting to go to this restaurant ever since it hit the scene several years ago.  Chef Dave Tallent is true to his name and has been nominated for the coveted James Beard Award six times in the past six years.  I am certain that Chef Tallent will win the award one day.

Chef Tallent believes firmly in the Slow Food Movement, which encourages people to buy food that was grown and produced locally and to eat in-season.  That means that you don't eat strawberries in the middle of winter.  You eat apples, which store well.  To that end, his menu changes with the seasons and features foods from many local farms.

We arrive at Restaurant Tallent.

Chef Dave Tallent owns this restaurant with his wife Kristen, who is a pastry chef.

After walking into the main door, past the bar and a banquette seating by the open kitchen, we were led to an opening and into an adjacent room next door.

I like the modern chandeliers...

And the way these light fixtures almost look like glowing vases in the niches.

The menu.

After we finally ordered (probably to the immense relief of our server), an amuse bouche arrived.  The term Amuse bouche is French and it is a single bite.  It means to amuse the mouth.

This was an eggplant puree on a half mini slice of toasted bruschetta - or something.
All I really remember the very nice and patient server saying was that there were no anchovies or nuts in the dish, unlike the usual preparation.
I'm sorry, but I was enjoying the company too much to pay attention to the food.
Actually, I think we were talking about food when the amuse bouche arrived.

It had an interesting flavor, but it was very salty.
Very, very salty.
I still liked it.

For first courses, my husband and I ordered the Summer Vegetable Salad.
This had Mixed Greens, Capriole Goat Cheese Fondu, and Lime Basil Vinaigrette.

For my tastes, the goat cheese overpowered the dish.  I liked the vinaigrette, but I also think that the vegetables in the salad were slightly pickled, which added another level of flavor profile to the dish that I felt was unnecessary.  

I think a milder goat cheese would have worked better, but perhaps that is just my taste.

I know that my husband wished that he had chosen what M had...

M chose the Crudo, which was a raw fish, with thinly sliced with oranges, and blood orange oil drizzled over, if I recall correctly.

I do recall M saying that it was excellent.

And thanks to M for taking pictures of his dishes for me.

A basket of bread arrived at our table.

For the entree course, I chose the Fielders Farms Pork Chop with Summer Beans, Chorizo Grits, and a Green Tomato Chutney.

The pork chop was cooked perhaps just a hair more than what I would cook it at home (remember, 140 degrees is the perfect temperature for pork*), but it was still tender.  There was quite a bit of fat on the pork chop, but that allowed the pork to remain tender.  I did like that they had allowed the pork chop to attain a bit of a sear on the outside, or a bark.  That had a good flavor to it.

*The perceived "problem" with 140 degree pork is that it will be a bit pink and many people even today still believe that pink pork is bad pork.  The important thing is getting the pork to the right temperature.  That is why they make food thermometers.  And one must remember that today's pork production is so much safer than in our grandparent's day.  So go ahead and be bold.  You won't be disappointed.

My husband ordered the Halibut with Zucchini Fritters, Summer Squash Soup, Cherry Tomatoes, and Salsa Verde.

He was fairly happy with the halibut and ate about half the zucchini fritter.  For him that's about right.  He did think that the halibut was a bit overcooked.

M ordered the Indiana Ribeye with New Potatoes, Onion Rings, and Sweet Corn Relish.

He appreciated that they had sliced the ribeye so that it wasn't one huge slab on the plate, but he did say that the oil from the onion rings did overpower the dish a bit.
Other than that, he was very happy with his meal.

Afterwards, we turned our attentions to the dessert menu.

I chose the Summer Berry Shortcake with house-made vanilla bean ice cream.

My only complaint with this dish was that the short cake was a bit on the heavy side.
Other than that, it was very good and the perfect cap to a delightful evening.

The Foodie Husband ordered the Banana Pudding with house-made vanilla wafers, chocolate pecan toffee, and vanilla bean whipped cream.
He loved it.

M ordered the Brioche Pain Perdu with house-made chocolate ice cream and local cherries.
He was a very happy man.

I think we just made a new friend.

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