Thursday, April 10, 2008

An Open Love Letter to Restaurant Tallent

Dear Restaurant Tallent,

I'm in love. I admit it. Not just a fleeting infatuation I'll be over at the end of the school year, but a deep, abiding, respectful, can't-get-enough-of-you kind of love. Sure, I know you have lots of regulars, but I will always hold a torch for you alone. If I was near you -- in Bloomington -- I'd be there every night for dinner. You couldn't get rid of me. Your daily foie gras special seduces me. Dave's ability to incorporate down-home cooking into refined dishes leaves me weak in the knees. And I can't even discuss Krissy's desserts without fanning myself a little. Your latest irresistible display came last Sunday at the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner.

For starters, a tuna tartare made with housemade chow-chow with an artichoke chip. Followed by a *perfectly clear* and meaty oxtail consomme "Rossini" with a buttermilk biscuit "sandwich" -- filled with a foie gras truffle mousse. I took mine apart and floated the foie gras mousse in my soup where it dissolved in melty goodness. Both paired perfectly with a French Jean-Louis Denois Brut NV.

Next came a seared sea scallop on a bed of thick white beans, crispy country ham (from Newson in Princeton, KY) and a perfectly flavored preserved lemon emulsion. The preserved lemon was perfect with the wine -- a 2006 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma. This wine stayed while the salad arrived -- a wonderfully fresh and clean spring vegetable salad with local arugula and a Banyuls vinaigrette. So beautifully prepped (I envy people who can operate mandolines so cleanly), this salad was not too sweet, but perfectly tart/tangy/salty for the wine -- making for a completely different pairing.

Next came a duo of Indiana duck with both a pomegranate syrup glazed breast next to a confit leg. It's amazing how two completely different preparations of the same meat can yield such different -- but equally tasty -- results. The tang of the pomegranate was super -- especially with the finishing salt on top. All was accompanied by a pea risotto and baby carrots. Best was the pairing with a Fratelli Revello Nebbiolo 2004. This was the wine I couldn't stop thinking about -- very Cabernet like, spicy, but still dry and big enough to handle the salt and savory flavors yet *perfect* with the slightly sweet peas in the risotto.

Next up was one of Tallent's famous cheese courses -- simple but incredible. In this case, we had the Capriole Mont St. Francis (as Dave put it, perhaps the stinkiest of all of the Capriole stinky cheeses) along with a wonderfully tangy and dark Belgian Endive Marmalade. (I have a random note here that there were pine nuts on something but I lose track at this point of whether or not they were on this dish or the next.) Wine was a 2003 Domaine de Grande Tinel Chateauneuf de Pape and my notes indicate this was an incredible pairing especially with the marmalade.

And as a cap to the evening, dessert was individual rhubarb struessel tarts with the flakiest crust and topped with honey lemon thyme ice cream. There was nothing to be done at this point but just dig in and it was fantastic, like eat-every-bite-and-lick-the-plate fantastic. Paired with a 2005 Grande Maison Monbazillac Cuvee des Anges.

Oh, Tallent, I know you can never return the love fully, but I just had to let you know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I'm not sure that Krissy does the desserts there anymore. Im fairly certain that (I might have the name wrong) its a guy named Jason, who I think is their longest tenured guy in the kitchen - the guy who works the pass most/all nights. I could be wrong though...