Monday, June 28, 2010

Tallula on Thames

Just had an incredible dinner at a restaurant called Tallula on Thames
(464 Thames Street Newport RI). We were looking for someplace fun,
local and not "baked stuffed". So I "yelped" local restaurants, it
came up at the top of the list where it had only a few reviews, having
only been opened a few months, but all were excellent and describing a
place that sounded worth a try. Kate and Kevin, who live in town, had
heard good things, so we gave it a go.

We were not let down, and were treated to one of the best dinners I
have had this year. We ordered a bunch of things off the concise, well
thought out, locally and seasonally inspired menu. Apps included blue
hill bay mussels (smoked tomato, chourico, garlic rouille and grilled
country bread to sop up the sauce), local heirloom tomato (watermelon,
basil vinaigrette, radish balsamic), roasted beets (orange
vinaigrette, hannabelles, lavender bud and hazel nut a BIG fav, every
bite savored!), and black bird farms 145 degree poached egg (Allen
farms pea greens, brioche, bacon, black truffle vinaigrette - wow!).

The best moment was my eight year old nephew rating the deconstructed
clam chowdah "10,000" points: potato and bacon diced, clams in their
shell, some herbs, all presented in a bowl, then enveloped with warm,
rich, heart-stoppingly creamy soup poured over top at the table. It's
more than a good show, it allows each of the parts to be perfectly
cooked, their textural integrity intact, so they retain their own
essence and character instead of swimming, over cooked, in soup for
maybe hours or more - pure love!

Entrees of Georges Bank day boat scallops (schartner farms carrot
purée, ramps, peas, bacon, brioche), baffoini farms breast of chicken
(sumac, teenie artichokes, meyer lemon, cousous, chick peas, nocoise
olives - perfectly done, savory and bright at the same time with
gentle hints of the meyer lemon really giving it a lovely natural
lift), perfectly done fillet of beef (horse radish potato purée,
spring onion, local carrots, king trumpet mushrooms, asparagus and
bearnaise mousseline), bloomsdale spinach raviloi (spring onions,
great hill blue cheese, pignoli, sherry cream).

Dessert rocked with chocolate fendant (molten inside, dusted with
nutella and toasted hazelnuts and cool vanilla gelato) blueberry tart,
incredible strawberry shortcake with micro lemon basil, Japanese Zula
(?) sauce was otherworldly. Light and airy but sooo much flavor.
Served with "pop rocks" and came out crackling.

Chef Jake Rojas came to the table and talked a bit about the
restaurant, how much he is loving changing seasons, having come from
southern California and their commitment to seasonal, local,
sustainable and fresh where ever possible. The menu tonight reflected
the end of his late spring/early summer influence, with full summer
menu just around the corner. But he really can't wait til fall to
explore game and squash and savory rich colder weather cuisine. I for
one would like to come back and try it!

Wine list was good, short but concise, and had some creative
selections. We had 2009 Pepiere Muscadet and a Bourgogne Rouge 2007
that I don't recall the producer but was quite nice. Could be a little
deeper and if I were them I wouldn't be afraid of going even further
outside the box than they have already. The food is so well thought
out and beautifully balanced I'd like more old world diversity in the
reds (some Rhone, Languedoc, Chinon or Bourgeuil, country French like
Marcillac, some Spanish like Lopez de Heredia would perfect), but
anyone who knows my palate won't be suprised by that. They plan to
change the wine list like they do the menu keeping it current and
seasonally focused on the food, an idea I whole heartedly endorse. All
in all a great experience, the service spot on, friendly, casual and
attentive, the atmosphere great, the food the way I like it, focused
on great fresh local ingredients, thoughtfully and perfectly done in
an understated, balanced composed and elegant style. Each and every
dish beautiful and delineated and pure in presentation and taste. Just
wish we lived closer!

Christopher Cree M.W.
56 Degree Wine/Wine Experts LLC
40 Quimby Lane, Bernardsville NJ 07924
tel: 908.953.0900
cell: 908.310.6127
Wine Events/Classes/Education:

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