Monday, July 26, 2010

Road Trip: Restaurant Tallent

Bloomington holds a lot of fond memories for me because I did my undergraduate degree there a long time ago. Even then, although I could rarely afford it, Bloomington had a unique food culture with a lot of interesting and independent restaurants. Occasionally I would get to go to a few of them back then, but now that I am older and can afford to eat out a bit more, I always like going down to Bloomington.
On this trip, our destination was Restaurant Tallent. Hubby had not yet been and wanted to go and I had promised that I would give it another try in a season that was more up my alley. Well as far as the seasonal ingredients being used on the menu, I was in heaven. How can you really go wrong with lots of tomatoes and corn? I had a hard time choosing.

We started with something that I think was new to Tallent’s menu—a “snack.” These are just that—smaller appetizers priced at $5.00 per portion. There were two or three on the menu but we went with one that was a special. It was salmon tartare described as having citrus in varying ways—including citrus vinaigrette. We assumed that as a snack, and for $5, it was going to be very small. It was actually quite a decent size, and I could have eaten something like this for my regular appetizer. The salmon was good, but it didn’t have enough citrus for me to make it stand out. There was quite a bit of fresh arugula on top that was so peppery and spicy you only wanted a little bit in each bite or it overpowered the other flavors. The salmon also wasn’t served with any crunchy bit to put the salmon on—some chips or crackers would have been nice.

I then had the foie gras poutine. Apparently, a poutine is a dish originated in Quebec consisting of French fries, cheese curds and covered in brown gravy (who knew? Not me.) The Tallent version was housemade French Fries (which were crunchy and salty and delicious) topped with goat cheese, a small piece of seared foie gras, a sunny side up quail egg, and covered in a chanterelle and corn gravy. This was my favorite dish of the night. The liver was cooked perfectly and the goat cheese gave that requisite zing that I look for to balance the complete decadence that was the other ingredients in this dish. I really enjoyed the chanterelles in the gravy although the corn overall this night was a little disappointing in its lack of flavor.

Hubby had the BLT risotto as his starter. The risotto itself was very tomato-ey (cooked with a tomato sauce)—and a few bites were a little al dente for our taste, but the drizzle of basil aioli on top was a really nice touch. The best parts for me were the little bits of fried green tomato scattered throughout. They were just little dices that were fried and were a nice textural component. There were also dices of bacon mixed throughout which I would say were probably hubby’s favorite part. All in all this dish was good, but didn’t really wow us.

For my entrée, I had the lobster roll. I am a sucker for a good lobster roll and as soon as I saw it on the menu, I knew there was no other choice for me. The sandwich was served with a side of fried green tomato slices, housemade chips, and an ear of corn on the cob. Sadly, this course just did not come together for me at all. The best things about it were the bread that the lobster roll was in and the chips. The bread was really crunchy and tasted like it had been coated in butter and then toasted. It was really yummy. The chips were just really thin crunchy housemade chips and were tasty too (they have a “snack” featuring these chips and truffle dip which I bet is good—and I bet those chips would be great with the salmon snack we had.) Sadly though, the filling of the lobster roll just didn’t excite me that much. The lobster seemed to be cooked properly, but it just didn’t have a lot of flavor. It just seemed like mayo and lobster and celery. The lobster flavor just didn’t come through that much and there really didn’t seem to be much seasoning. I don’t know, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was just okay. The fried green tomatoes were cooked well in cornmeal, as fried green tomatoes usually are, but they needed some salt, and really, in my opinion could have used a drizzle of something to go over them (that basil aioli from earlier maybe?). Honestly, I was surprised they were on the side of the sandwich. For some reason, I thought they might actually be a part of the sandwich. The corn on the cob just didn’t taste good to me which is a shame for July in Indiana. And I have been having great corn on the cob from the Farmer’s Market around here. Not sure if it was past its prime or just a little overcooked.

Hubby had the Indiana ribeye with roasted new potatoes, summer vegetable salad and blue cheese. The ribeye was cut into slices on the place over the potatoes that were also sliced and the whole dish was covered in a sort of slaw of veggies mixed with blue cheese. First of all, the portion was very large. Even hubby couldn’t eat it all. He also thought the way it was served (sliced on the plate) he felt like they were trying to make it appear like a filet. The potatoes were nicely flavored and while hubby enjoyed the salad, he would have preferred it on the side—he sort of liked eating it separately. It was all good, but again, just not amazing.

Even though we didn’t finish our entrées, we decided to get a dessert anyway, and we were really glad we did. We split the blueberry tart with sweet corn ice cream. This was outstanding. What a great mix of flavors with the blueberries, the streusel topping and the sweet, yet slightly savory ice cream. This was a beautiful taste of summer.

All in all, we had a nice night away even though our meal didn’t blow us away. When we are in the mood for a road trip again though, Tallent will probably not be our first choice. Tell me, if you were getting a night away and a meal outside of Indy, where would you go?

Restaurant Tallent
208 North Walnut
Bloomington, IN 47404

Restaurant Tallent on Urbanspoon


  1. Thank you for the descriptions of the food. I'm going to Bloomington this weekend. I might have to check it out. Although it will be hard to not go to Lenny's.

  2. Have you tried the Story Inn? We had our first 2nd anniversary there... very nice.... nice trails for hiking there on the south end of Brown County park, too. And, some good single track mountain bike trails there and in Gnaw Bone.

  3. We like Mogger's in Terre Haute. It is good pub food. Try the Italian Beef sandwich and the Mogger salad.

  4. As an IU Alumn, I'm embarrassed to see that your undergraduate degree did not include teaching you to correctly spell "talent".

  5. Dear Anon: actually, I know how to spell the word "talent," but in this case, the restaurant is named after the owner/chefs David and Kristen Tallent.

  6. Ahahaha! Best comment and response ever.

  7. I haven't been to Tallent-- so I can't comment...but I enjoy FARM in Bloomington (espec. the bar area) and I've enjoyed many road trips to No. Indiana for pizza.

  8. Was the corn boiled or oven roasted? It looks boiled...yuck.

  9. Indy Amy- would love to hear your pizza faves and agree on Farm, we ate there for breakfast and it was delish.

    wibia- I think it was boiled.

  10. Next time your in Bloomington, check out Finch's Brasserie on Kirkwood. My wife & I had a great dinner there this Spring. They have a tapas menu available mid-afternoon too.

  11. hey everyone- thanks for all your road trip suggestions. I am making note.. and am feeling particularly road trippy lately!

    keep 'em coming!

  12. you might try cerulean

    really...quite good in warsaw.

    bistro 157 in valpo... 54 Main Bistro in hobart is quite good

    ghyslain (sp?) in richmond pistachio gellato is superb

    santinis pepper something portage I think..good wings and good american pizza

    corndance cafe in culver

    hinkles, chickiepoos. bistro one, 605 gtille in madison

    fork at 532 columbus..

    ..and as mentioned before..joseph decuis in roanoak

    just a few suggestions..some are always excellent..others up and down

  13. Has no one yet mentioned Joseph Decuis in Roanoke? Possibly one of the best i the state -- and worth the roadtrip.

    I haven't had good luck with FARM -- maybe it's not my taste, but you should at least check it out.

    I'd be up for a Decuis road trip -- haven't been there in a long time. And they overnight rooms -- European style.

  14. Were were JUST there on Saturday night. Also visiting Bloomington from Indy. Take a look at our pics on the blog. Did you see us there? Tip: my wife is not so small right now (pregnant with twins). :) [Mr. Blonde] p.s. following you on Twitter now too

  15. Lorand and Braingirl: yes, for sure I want to do Joseph Decuis... working on the logistics trying to get it moved up the list...