after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

We Couldn’t Resist! (Another Talula’s Garden Review)

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t says:  g and I found ourselves without dinner plans a few weekends ago.  We had no food in the house and it had just stopped raining.  Why not go out for dinner?  But where to go … where to go?  After the week before, we still had Talula on the brain.  No … they couldn’t possibly have openings … could they?  I called them up, secured a 6:30 table, and off we went!

4/2010, Saturday 6:30pm, Party of 2.  We were seated at the farm table – we were happy to try it out, as last time we had a normal table.  No one was seated near us (it was a relatively early dinner), so it’s kind of like we had the whole table to ourselves!  The farm table felt pretty comfortable – so if we had a party of 12, I know exactly where we should be going …

Aimee recognized us and said hi – she looked more at ease (maybe because the restaurant wasn’t super-busy yet), so it was nice to see her!

On to the food – we refused to repeat any of the dishes we had before …

crab salad appetizer

First up was the crab salad appetizer (new to the menu!) over a sheet of golden beet.  It was quite a delicate dish, with succulent crab and fresh accompaniments that danced on the palate.  It was the first time I had had golden beet, actually, and I liked it.  The dish’s flavors reminded me a little of what one might expect from an amuse bouche … except much larger – a great way to start a summery meal … even if it was not quite summer yet.

Foie mousse.

Next up was a little “something” that was courtesy of the kitchen – it wasn’t on the menu (I don’t think), but it featured a bit of foie gras mousse accompanied by something red-orange in the middle that we actually can’t remember (I’m writing about it two weeks after the fact – was it grapefruit? agh – darn this memory!  THIS is why I try to blog right after eating …).  I do remember it being tasty but very rich.  Fortunately, there was only about two bites worth (well, I had three bites cuz g couldn’t handle the entirety of hers).  I think that g and I have found that foie is just one of those things that we don’t really “crave” – we’ll rarely go out of our way to order it, but I’ll happily eat it if it’s there, and she’ll happily taste it … and give the rest to me …  Perhaps the one exception in which I would order foie is at Fond – that was a ridiculous piece of foie right there …

"crispy" lamb shoulder

I had the crispy lamb shoulder – a perfectly cooked piece of lamb over wonderfully texture vegetables (Talula’s really knows how to prep these veggies so that they taste “fresh”, but cooked … does that make sense?).

Cheese!

And what dinner would be complete without a cheese course?  This was the “roll in the hay”.  As per usual, the cheeses were an adventure, and there’s just no way that g and I could recount their deliciosity.  I wonder if Tria is a little worried that Talula’s does cheese so well – between the cheese offerings, the interesting wines, and the outdoor space, which would you go to … right now, for us, Talula’s has a cheese edge, but Tria isn’t limited to eco-friendly wines … hmmmm …

The final course was the doughnuts with strawberry sauce.  Holy bejesus.  The doughnuts were light and fluffy with a slight crispness on the outside.  And then there was the strawberry sauce that I wanted to lick from the plate.  It’s no surprise then that these were way better than the super-dense ones we had at Monsu recently  (I don’t think we even mentioned them in our review).

So, all in all it was a pretty darn tasty meal … so tasty that we went back a mere two weeks later …

5/2010, Friday 6:30pm, Party of 2.  Yea, so we went back for the third time in four weeks.  Does that make us a little addicted?  Yes it does.  We couldn’t help ourselves.

We started off the meal with cheese – but neglected to take pictures.  It was their “special”.  No idea what it was called, but damn it was a fine cheese.  How does Aimee do it?

flourless ricotta gnudi

This was g’s pick for appetizer.  These little cheesy globes felt almost like little balls of mozzarella on your tongue (but creamier), but they were surrounded by that sauce/reduction of shallot and herbs and all things light and springy.  Actually, the gnudi were perhaps on the too-heavy side as we felt that a single order might have been too much for just one of us to eat (not in terms of quantity, rather, richness) … but for the both of us, it was great!

braised rabbit and pasta

This braised rabbit with fava beans and pasta was phenomenal.  The rabbit was so perfectly cooked, and the pasta was delectable.  In my opinion, this was tied with the oxtail consomme for best appetizer we had had … but maybe it’s not really an “appetizer” so much as a small entree.  Who cares – it was awesome.  Actually – if they doubled the size of the portion and put it on their main, I’d be a happy camper.  But it wasn’t quite at the level of their gnocchi from the first time we were there.

And then … we ended with a proper dessert …The dark chocolate cremeaux was calling to me … but I had to resist.  There was another dessert that beckoned … the cookies!  So that’s what we ordered … but there was a surprise!

banana-chocolate thingee (upper) and cookies (lower)!

We ordered the cookie platter … and then she also brought over a complimentary banana thing (it had a very complicated name … and it had a side of hazelnut chocolate ice cream or sorbet or something) … and she brought two glasses of dessert wine (as she called it “fake port” … obviously not from Portugal – from the US of A)!  also on the house!  Awesome!  Apparently, Aimee told her that “we had been there quite a few times” and that she should “take care of us”.  Aimee is awesome like that.  We did see her earlier on in the meal and shared our enthusiasm for the place.  Gee – I wonder if she could tell that we’re totally hooked?  Alternatively, we may be deluding ourselves, as we were also sitting right next to a table with a fairly disruptive 6-8 year-old (he was playing with the butter knives on the table, holding all four of them in his tiny hands, dropping them on the floor and retrieving them and whatnot … which while they weren’t really “sharp”, I’m pretty sure that my mom would have made it VERY clear to me that such behavior was unacceptable) so maybe it was a “thank you for not telling the table next to you that their parenting sucks” gift?  Well, whatever the reason, we were happy …

Now … Look at that banana thing!  It was a multi-layered thing of beauty.  It featured layers of banana cream, bruleed thinly sliced bananas, chocolate, some kind of cookie layer – and probably some more layers that I’m missing.  It, like the dark chocolate cremeaux from the first time we were there, was reminiscent of a certain illegal drug that is all-too-often quoted on on this blog (i.e. crack). And then there those cookies which – the dark chocolate over some sort of short bread (with salt) and the carrot cake cookie sandwich, especially – were off … the … hook.

Ok, so if you’ve made it to this part of the post, you’re probably inundated with the pictures of the different foods.  I apologize for the skimpy food descriptions and the excessive use of vague language that really doesn’t help you imagine what the dishes tasted like, but so much was written in retrospect (it’s been a busy few weeks).  At the very least, I can tell you the “gist” of the foods we’ve had the opportunity to taste.  All of the food thus far has been executed very well – the slightest (and only) mis-step occurred at our most recent visit with a bit of under-seasoning of one of the pieces of meet on the duo of beef – the sauce covered it up fine, though.  As far as flavors go, g and I feel that for half of the dishes, this chef likes to play with the more subtle flavors – they come out if you take a pause, but could easily be missed if you’re rushing through your plate.  That said, the dishes that I prefer (the oxtail consomme and the braised rabbit pasta appetizers, the beef duo and the mushroom-and-gnocchi mains) had tons of flavor that came straight to me without much “searching” – these dishes made me take pause and observe their presence … and these were the ones that keep me wanting to come back.  Well … that’s not true … there are actually two other things that’ll keep me coming back as well … the cheese and the dessert.  I think Aimee has unlocked some sort of secret and is using it to her advantage – whoever she has back there making her desserts is making it such that the end of every meal we had was another highlight …  It’s no wonder then that because each of the three meals are associated with such fond memories, of course we’d want to keep coming back over and over again.

In summary – Talula’s Garden is where we’ll continue going for excellently prepared food, courses that run the gamut from subtle to bold, and a cheese-and-sweets finale like none other.  I only wish the corkage wasn’t so high ($25 isn’t too bad, but it definitely makes you think twice and pull out a nicer bottle to justify it) – but if that’s the cost of having a nice, leisurely meal (BYO’s tend to rush patrons a little more for turnover), then so be it.  Aimee can rest assured that we’ll be back again … maybe in two weeks … after all, we want to come off as “regulars” … not “stalkers” …

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 May 2011 at 10:46pm

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