I had dinner last night at Talullah in Arlington with four chowish friends. Overall, the food was good, the wine list interesting and the service spotty.
Talulluah's menu is broken down between "Amuse Yourself", "Appetizers", "Entrees" and "Desserts". On the "Amuse Yourself" side, most items are $2 - $3 and maybe two bites. We tried the "Steak and Cheese" (steak tartare with cheese sauce), Scallop Ceviche, Risotto Fritter and Vodka Cured Salmon. The Steak & Cheese was, in a word, terrible. Imagine raw hamburger mixed with melted Velveeta and then chilled. *shudder* I liked the Ceviche but if those were serrano chiles, I'm the Pied Piper. The fritter was nicely done and the salmon was flavorful.
Only one person tried an Appetizer: Fried Green Tomatoes. They had no flavor but the greens in a bacony vineagarette was very nice. Every dish needed a much more liberal hand of salt (and I'm not one to add salt to anything.)
For entrees, three of us had the Braised Shortribs, one had the salmon and the other had the evening's special - shredded roasted wild boar. The shortribs were rich and meaty with a slightly spicy tomato based sauce and were served over cheddar cheese grits. The salmon was, well, nicely done salmon. The boar was mildly game that went well with the roasted potatoes that (eventually) came with the dish. The entrees were $22 - $24 and seemed a bit overpriced for the quantity.
Talullah does two things very well: wine and desserts. We tried the cappucino creme brulee, lemon tart with wild blueberry sauce, apple streudel with cinnamon ice cream and chocolate/ passionfruit bombe. At $6.75 they were easily the best deal of the night. The wine list had dozens of offerings by glass with really fabulous prices ($5 - $11).
On the down side? The service. Due to the snowstorm last evening, our party was reduced from 5 to 8. When we called 4 hours ahead to let them know, we were assured that it was no problem and they were expecting a quiet evening due to weather. When we arrived, two staff members got into a disagreement about whether or not to seat us before the rest of our party arrived. Our waitress was scattered and didn't seem to know the menu at all and when one of our meals arrived without the promised potatoes and veggies, she vanished. We finally flagged down another waiter who eventually had someone from the kitchen bring out potatoes in a bowl.
It's worth a trip to check out the wine list and desserts, so you might want to check it out on a weekend afternoon. Parking is a real pain - the restaurant has posted maps on the door so you can find one of two tiny parking lots with spaces available.
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