I am not great at taking pictures in restaurants. For one thing, the lighting is usually poor and I rarely bring my good camera with me so there is lots of camera shake. Probably more damaging, though, I am so interested in each new course that appears that I have dug my fork into it and spoiled the effect before I remember that I meant to preserve it. My usual response is, “oh, well,” mumbled with my mouth full, but on the occasion of my latest memorable meal I really wish I’d done a better job so I could share it here.
Friends of ours who had met Dave and Krissy Tallent at the Salone del Gusto in October came to visit last week, and we headed out to a much anticipated dinner at Restaurant Tallent. Leaving things in Chef Dave’s hands is always smart, so we ordered the market tasting menu and let him do his thing.
It was sensational, as always. We started with Sweet Potato Bisque, garnished with pickled rock shrimp (really a great combination of sweet, earthy soup touched with the brine of the sea), and followed it with Trenne Pasta Puttanesca – fat trenne pasta seared on one side to a fabulous chewy, crunchy texture. I always love Tallent’s trenne, but this version was amazing – tossed with a classic Puttanesca sauce, and surrounded by mussels and clams.
We thought we were expecting stuffed trout next, but before it made an appearance Dave sent out a huge platter of frites with a truffle cream dipping sauce. There is nothing I like better than the frites at Tallent, and normally I beg a side of béarnaise sauce to go with them, but this truffle cream, I’m telling you, was superb. I could have happily eaten nothing else all night long.
But naturally, Dave wasn’t going to let that happen. Here came the trout, stuffed with crab and served over andouille and white cheddar polenta, with sweet and sour beet greens and sage brown butter. The beet greens were just like candy, one of my favorite things of the night.
Then Indiana Elk Loin, with pineapple date chutney, winter squash barlotto, and lamb bacon braised Brussels sprouts – the rich meat a stunning contrast with the sweet fruit and squash and the slight bitter edge of the sprouts.
They slipped a cheese course in before dessert -- 3 Sisters Serena Cow’s Milk Cheese, with some drop dead wonderful endive and balsamic marmalade and toasted pine nuts – but dessert, when it came, was a feast in itself. A miniature bourbon caramel shake --inches high with a tiny straw – coconut espresso sorbet, as creamy as ice cream, and buttermilk doughnuts. Krissy Tallent’s desserts are always spectacular but this was one of the best.
I know that lots of people who read this blog don’t live in Indiana and can’t just rush out to have a wonderful dinner at Tallent, but oh, boy, do I wish you could.