Phenominal meal at Restaurant Tallent [Bloomington IN]
My husband and I were in Bloomington this weekend to celebrate our nephew's high-school graduation. We had the good fortune to have dinner at Restaurant Tallent--in all honesty, I don't believe I have ever had such an exquisite meal. From start to finish, the food and the service were impeccable.
For our first course, we ordered an oyster trio and softshell crab. The waitress' description of these dishes had our mouths watering, and when they arrived I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. The oysters were served raw in a mignonette, poached with a red pepper tapenade, and tempura-fried with a pickled jalapeno sauce (my favorite). The crab was served with a quinoa salad and fried green tomatoes, then drizzled with a lemon-oregano butter sauce which I would have literally licked clean off the plate if I hadn't been sitting with my in-laws!
For my main course, I had halibut with baby vegetables and an orange and fennel broth. This was the most amazing piece of fish I have ever eaten. The flesh was so delicate, but the outside of the fish had a slightly crisp texture. My husband's grouper was also phenomenal, served atop a shrimp and house-made tasso jambalya. I also had a few bites of my mother-in-law's spring vegetable orzo, which was rich and delicious with perfectly cooked pieces of asparagus.
For dessert, we ordered the coconut tart and the banana split. The banana split was wonderful: a rich brownie with nuts topped with cooked bananas and banana ice cream, but I cannot express the feeling of sheer decadence I encountered with each bite of that coconut tart. The coconut cream filling was perfectly subtle, served in a macadamia nut shell, then drizzled with a rich chocolate sauce. We were even provided a milk pitcher with extra chocolate sauce, for which I assume our waitress was responsible.
Our waitress--I believe her name is Carol, but my husband insists it was Carla--was so sweet and spot-on with every description and suggestion. My father-in-law is quite a bear and normally has people shaking in their shoes, but with every flash of her beautiful smile and big brown eyes, Carol/Carla slowly worked him into putty. It was amazing; even my husband was stunned.
I would recommend to anyone who is with a 100 mile radius of Bloomington, Indiana to make an effort to visit this restaurant. Bloomington's a charming place on it's own, but Tallent makes it a destination!
WHAT?! Trulli is no more?! Wow, that was quick - the place was open only a year or so. And I just saw it in April!
Ok, here's the deal with Bloomington. There are a lot of restaurants. People rave about the number of restaurants. You know what? Most of them suck. The service is bad, the food is bad. It's a college town and standards aren't high. After living in Bloomington for 4+ years, I've narrowed down the ones I like to:
- Tallent. Discussed above
- Limestone Grille, on the east side. Unprepossessing from the outside, but good food, nice atmosphere, good wine list, and they make an effort to use local ingredients
- Scholar's Inn, on 11th and College (or thereabouts).
- Truffles, also on the east side, also in a strip mall.
- Michael's Uptown. I haven't really had a bad meal there (except once when the Indonesian corn fritters were undercooked) and the service is good too.
- Samira, on the town square. Best ethnic place in town. Wonderful Afghan food, nice atmosphere, good for vegetarians, interesting wines. Love this place. Consistently good, and I can never choose so I just get all of it.
- Turkuaz, on 3rd Street. Unpretentious little Turkish place. Try the gozleme bread. YUM! And their coffee cake is delicious. Also carries some Turkish groceries.
- Anatolya, on 4th street. Also Turkish.
- Anyetsang's Little Tibet, on 4th: get the Indian dishes here - they're some of the best in town! Greasy but good. I think it's the best of the Tibetan places in town. Great momo and shabalay.
- Django's. Eclectic Asian menu, nice interior, good for vegans and vegetarians.
- Shanti. Indian place (better by far than Bombay House). Some complain that it's too rich (one Indian friend calls it "Party food"), but it's good. Service is horribly uneven (getting change can sometimes be an insane experience, and I had one waiter freak out on me once)
- My Thai, on the west side. Best Thai in town.
- Trojan Horse: it's ok. I think it's overrated. Great desserts, though!
- Bucceto's: one on the east, one on the west. Good pizzas, quick service, good if you're going with kids.
Other folks like Malibu's - I think it's overpriced for what is essentially souped-up bar food.
Avoid, avoid, avoid:
Mikado: sushi place on the east side. Ugh. Wretched service, too.
Burmese place on 4th Street: couldn't get a second PLATE there. And the food defies description in its badness. Which is sad - I went to a wedding catered by the owner, and the food was great there
Snow Lion: the horror stories I hear tell...
I think all of the Mexican places suck unless you like your chips stale and greasy, your salsa watery and mild, and no margaritas in sight. Go to Indy for decent Mexican.
As someone else said, check out the farmer's market on Saturday's (and a smaller version on Tuesday's during the summer). Quite wonderful. A sausage sandwich from Loveland Farms, some coffee from Bloomingfoods, and I'm a happy camper.
Agree with much of your post, although I won't step through the doors of Little Tibet or the Trojan Horse. Strongly disagree with you on the Mikado. My family and I have been eating here since they opened, and we love it. The teriyaki dishes don't appeal to me, but they have some of the best tempura I've ever eaten (and that includes a lot consumed when I lived in Japan for 3 years). The sushi is excellent -- I always ask Joe, the lead sushi chef, what's particularly good that day and he's never steered me wrong. Had dinner there the other night and Joe made me a special roll with snapper, yellowtail, and fatty salmon. It was delicious. My favorite dish in cold weather is Yosenabe -- a little pot of meat and vegetables in a flavorful broth. Comes with a side of tempura. Service is very uneven.
As to the market on Saturday, be sure to try a tamale from Harvest Lodge -- outstanding!
I'm delighted that you had a wonderful experience at Indiana's best restaurant. We celebrated my birthday there 10 days ago, and it was incredible. Every bite was first-rate, and the coconut tart was beyond belief. I would add, that for a college town, the service at Tallent is superior. You cannot go wrong here.
I discovered Chowhound while searching for information about Tallent after our dinner. I had no idea I was still living in the dark-ages! I have still not gotten over our incredible meal. I'm trying to gather up some girlfriends to take a weekend getaway with me next month so I can re-live last weekend's dinner! With any luck, I'll get to go two nights in a row:)
If anyone has any other suggestions on great places to eat in Bloomington, please let me know. We had brunch at the Uptown Cafe, and it was just okay. I am curious about the international restaurants; my in-laws said there were many in one location. Any input?
I'd eat at Tallent twice.
I've also like Trulli Flatbread-the flatbreads are terrific-they are open for lunch-
When we travel to Bloomington, we always try to stay overnight Friday so we can be there for the amazing Saturday morning farmer's market.
re: David W
Alas, Trulli is no more, but the chef and his wife bought the place and are reopening it in mid-June as Finch's, a Mediterranean Brasserie. We're excited!!
Fourth St. has a lot of good ethnic places. My favorite Thai place is out west of town on 3rd St. - My Thai Cafe.
FARM is good as well -- breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And of course, Tallent. I'd love to eat there two nights in a row!