Restaurants & Bars 2

Tallent, Bloomington, IN

pikawicca | Jan 18, 2008 12:55 PM

My husband and I dined in the bar here last Saturday where we greatly enjoyed the Moules Frites "Bouillabaise" and the creamy Chestnut Soup with garam masala from the new early winter menu.

We went back last night to sample some more new menu items, although the mussels were so outstanding that I was very tempted to order them again. We decided to split an appetizer of Butternut Squash "Carpaccio" with pancetta, truffles, parm, and hazelnuts, topped with a sunny-side up quail egg. We were stunned by how good this dish was, and agreed that it was absolutely the best thing we've ever eaten in Bloomington. The dish was a happy symphony of colors, textures, flavors, and aromas.

After telling our server that that was going to be a hard act to follow, we sat there in some trepidation, worried that our entrees couldn't live up to what we'd just eaten. Not to worry.
My husband had the fish special, since it was a fish we'd never tried, South African King Klip. This proved to be a juicy fish with a mild, yet intriguing flavor and lovely texture. Definitely a hit.

The real show-stopper, though, was my entree of Flora Farms Braised PorkBelly,Scrapple (house-made), and Cider Braised Cabbage. It's a good thing this was a large portion, or my husband and I might have come to blows. The pork belly was served with the lean meat thinly sliced in a pool of jus. A good-sized cube of the fat had been seared to a crispy succulence, so that you could cut off a little piece to accompany each bite of the lean meat. The braised cabbage was the perfect foil for the rich meat, and I can't tell you how delicious the scrapple was, crunchy on the outside, creamy within. Alas, we did not have room for dessert.

Two little details made a big impression on me: the quail egg on the "Carpaccio" and the presence of the scrapple. The runny yolk of the egg combined with the other ingredients to give a velvety mouthfeel to the sauce that was extraordinary. As for the scrapple, it takes a brave chef to put this item on a midwestern menu, and this version was excellent, with a better texture than what I've had before.

In sum, my husband and I agree that this was the best dinner we've eaten in the midwest in 30 years of living here (including many at big-name places in Chicago), and one of the best we've had in the country. Chef Dave Tallent just keeps getting better and better.

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