Had quite the road adventure, part business and part world's longest first date, and the highlight was far and away the overnight stay in Bloomington, with the stop specifically to hit what remains one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. Unfortunately I screwed up the plans to meet up with Doug and Candy Grover because I did not take the time zone change into account, but that was the only less-than-stellar aspect to the evening.
Once again I found myself wondering if my dining partner would think the evening lived up to the hype. Based on her restaurant history I had told her this could very well be the best meal she's yet to enjoy. Glad to say the Tallent crew came through with flying colors.
Not realizing we had missed our rendezvous, we sat ourselves down at the bar for what would wind up being several hours of culinary (their late summer menu) and beer bliss.
Started with leisurely progression of small plates, the first being the Baked Poplar Ridge Farm Egg, with chanterelles, new potatoes, onions, sweet corn and truffle relish. Unbelievable, and so freaking good I had to get a second one a few dishes later. The combination of textures and flavors was totally off the charts. The egg was perfectly cooked, with the yolk still runny enough to add a nice sheen to the other ingredients after it was breached. The potatoes were in a small dice and cooked to a nice al dente, adding the toothsome component to the proceedings. The truffle relish was totally knocked out... one of Chef David Tallent's most sumptuous creations. Yowzah!
In between eggs we enjoyed the Chopped Salad, with avocado, bacon tomato and a bright and yummy Capriole goat vinaigrette as well as the Agnolotti Carbonara with sweet corn, house-made pancetta and parmesan. Double yum - everything was perfectly prepared and plated.
For entreés she went with the Viking Farm Leg of Lamb, with ratatouille, fregola sarda and a roasted red pepper jus. She proclaimed it the best lamb she had ever tasted. I went with the Seared Sea Scallopss, with BBQ rib succotash, pommes anna and a bourbon-sherry gastrique. Oh. Hell. Yes! The scallops were perfect... lovely sear on the surface and opaque on the inside. The succotash was fabulous... totally tasting of the season and put over the top by the succulent bits of BBQ pig. The pommes anna were every bit as good as I remember from a previous scallop prep a couple of years back... crispy and creamy and total spudly goodness.
The beer selection was eclectic, with a bunch of first-time (to us) varietals... the array of beers is probably the reason I don't remember what we had for dessert, but I know they did not disappoint.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm here to say that Restaurant Tallent could hold its own in any restaurant town anywhere. Bloomington is SO lucky to have such a wonderful place, and I will continue to drive hours out of my way each and every time I am anywhere close.
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