Oh my gawd.
It's 9am the following morning AFTER the amazing Friends-n-Family opening we were invited to last night at Talde, and I'm still full. But I'm not full in a "I feel like I'm gonna barf, let me erase the experience of this meal" sort of way...more in a "the last food I consumed was so mind blowingly delicious, how the fuck am I supposed to follow that up with an egg?" sort of way. It's like my stomach is *not* quite ready to move on.
In a word, Talde was resplendent. You should seriously go there immediately, and see for yourself.
In its first night of operation, with a packed house that did not seem to let up until about 11:30pm, I was still left struggling to come up with any sort of constructive criticism to pass on to chef Dale Talde and the staff on our post-meal customer survey. I really only had one complaint about the night: WE DIDN'T GET TO TRY THE PRETZEL PORK AND CHIVE DUMPLINGS!
I know, right!?
Anyway, we picked up the shattered pieces of our lives after finding out that there were no more dumps left, and recovered by basically ordering one of everything else on the menu. For the record, we were three meat eaters (me, @amandawaas, @ashleygoforth) and one vegetarian (@ninedaves). Here's a play-by-play with all our shitty iPhone pics:
Our reservation was for 9pm, and when we arrived the place was hopping. The space really looks fab with a bar in front, and seating in the back portion of the restaurant (a mix of booths and tables). The old school Asian mahogany carvings that were sourced by co-owners John Bush and David Massoni (of Thistle Hill Tavern) at an antiques warehouse in PA are really incredibly striking and the space definitely feels warm and inviting . After a few minutes of waiting, we were ushered to our table in the back, which gave us a fantastic head on view of chef Dale Talde at work in the open kitchen.
The four of us immediately came up with a gameplan which was: under no circumstance was anyone allowed to order the same thing. We were there to taste as much as we could, and were going to share it all, goddamit.
There's a fantastic wine list, as well as some really interesting and unusual cocktails. Between us we ordered the Brooklyn sling, which was a pretty pink cocktail (I forget the ingredients and suck as I did not write them down), and a prosecco with plum wine number that was perfect for my sweet wine loving self.
We tried all of these apps:
- Saigon Crepes with smoked shrimp, Chinese bacon and mint: The "crepe" itself is not what you think of when you think of a traditional crepe, but was rather a fried, crispy cracker-like thing that really paired nicely with the shrimp and mint. This one was surprisingly fresh, and not really heavy at all.
- Hawaiian Bread Buns (3 w/Filipino pork sausage and 3 w/market vegetables of day which was some sort of mushroom number): OMFG. I have no clue what the hell makes pork "Filipino" or not, but this shit tasted like magic-n-moonbeams on a fluffy bun. I didn't try the veggie one because I was too busy licking my lips, but that one looked fab too.
- Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with butter lettuce, pickled shallots and peanut: This one was actually similar to the traditional lettuce wraps dish that you order at a Chinese restaurant, only the chicken was not shredded and was actually in a little patty. You wrapped it up with the lettuce and the shallot/peanut mixture and then ate it with your hands. Interestingly, I found this way easier ot manage as you didn't have tons of little pieces of chicken falling all over the place like you normally do. I loved the shit out of this one too. There was a sauce that came along with this one that made the wraps very spicy, but I love spicy so it wasn't any thang for me.
As for salads, we tried:
- Iceberg wedge with Chinese bacon, blue cheese and sri-rancha dressing: I'm sure others will disagree with me, but the wedge salad, when done right, remains as one of my top fave all-time salads. And this one was done right. The dressing was creamy, spicy and delicious and there was no skimping at all on the blue cheese. I realized last night that I just happen to dig American style bacon more than Chinese style, but that's my own lame thing. As Dave our veg pointed out, this one would be super easy to get without the bacon for any other non meat eating folks as well.
- Heirloom Squash and Silken Tofu salad with kale, silken tofu, apples and cider ponzu: This one seems like it maybe, kinda, sorta could be lame, but I assure you: it is SO not. In fact, this was one of my fave dishes of the night. The kale is fried and delicious, the apple makes a crisp, fantastic pairing with the tofu, and the ponzu dressing was tart and super yummy. This one felt almost a bit more like a veggie side than it did a salad for me, and I might actually order to come along with my main entree the next time around. It was killer good.
In the soup realm, we tried:
- The Market Ramen with smoked tofu, scallion, white soy, and some delicious mushrooms: This one was also crazy good. The broth was delish, the flavor combos were popping, and even the ramen noodles tasted special. It was also a gigantic, ginormous bowl. There was some chatter in the comments on our post last week that the menu lacked vegetrarian options, but our vegetarian said he could order this as a main course for dinner and be totally happy...and probably even have some left over for lunch the next day.
UPDATE: There was some chatter in the comments regarding the fact that the Ramen was not actually vegetrarian. Well we got an update straight from the Talde folks and the Ramen is safe for both vegetarians AND vegans: "It’s a vegan dish. The other two soups are not vegetarian as both contain meat and a meat-based broth, hence the possible mix-up."
For main courses, we stuffed our faces with:
- Korean Fried Chicken: Duh. I mean, my obsession with Korean fried chicken has long been documented on this blog, and yes ppl: last night all of my dreams came true and then some. This dish was amazeballs. The chicken was so crazy moist and juicy, and the fried bits were crispy, crunchy magic. There was also this killer sauce that came with it that I loved so much I almost wanted a whole little cup of it to come along with the dish for extra dipping purposes.
- Crispy Oyster and Bacon Pad Thai: This one was def good, and the fried oysters were fantastico! I think the bacon was a tad overpowering for me as it really ended up flavoring everything in the dish...espesh the noodles. I realized last night that in most pad thai's, whatever protein you order to go with it doesn't really have flavor that seeps into the noodles (i.e. chicken or shrimp pad thai noodles would probs taste the same if you removed all the shrimp and chicken from the dish), wheras with this version, the noodles all tasted pretty bacon-y. For many of you, this will likely be a major plus, but I just like stuff a tad less baconriffic.
- BBQ platter with brisket, pork shoulder, smoked bacon and black pepper butter toast: this was kind of like a poo poo platter of meat, and is a great option for sharing. You'll likely find that everyone has their own fave (mine was hands down the smoked bacon) and I dug the brisket a lot too.
We gorged on the following sides:
- Shrimp Fried Rice: This was really good, and had some nice flavor. As an American used to American Chinese food, I was missing a bit of the greasy fried element that you usually get with fried rice, but I still really dug this one.
- Banana Leaf Sticky Rice with Chinese bacon and scallions: Another one of my faves. This rice was unexpectedly sweet to me...almost like dessert rice. But I honestly couldn't get enough of it.
- Black Pepper Butter Toast: Ok, I have no idea if there is anything else on this toast except for butter and black pepper...which doesn't sound very exciting, right? WRONG! This stuff was a-m-a-z-i-n-g and we spent half the meal fighting over any remaining pieces of toast (of which, ultimately, there were none).
- #369 which is steamed or stir-fried market vegetables. Last night it was brocolli rabe and edamame: Ok so truth time: this was actually the one major miss for our table. I'm not a gigantic broccoli rabe fan, so it wasn't really a shocker on my front. And as market veggies change all the time, I can't even really say don't order it...but I just didn't really love this one.
Sadly, by the time we were ready to eat dessert (and yes, ppl: after eating ALL OF THIS FOOD we were still ready for dessert), there were no more potato chip and salted ganache cookies. As I had been salivating over a variation of those mofos ever since Dale won his quickfire challenge with it on his season of Top Chef, this was sad news. BUT, we drowned our sorrow in a ginormous piece of chocolate and coconut cake, that I proceeded to eat 7/8 of as all of my table mates were distracted with Twitter, photo-taking and such. And yep: as a lover of both chocolate and coconut, I can attest to the fact that it was fucking delcious.
Phew, getting fat is hard work.
I do need to send out a special shout out to our waitress Alyssa, who was killer fantastic, sweet, and funny. She also never even blinked, despite the fact that the 4 of us ordered enough food for 8 people.
I can only assume Talde is going to get better and better, though after the amazing meal we had last night, it's hard to imagine--it was that good. I'm super excited to have a restaurant like this in the nabe, and hope others will take a cue from Dale & co and continue elevating the Park Slope restaurant scene more and more. Also my fingers are crossed VERY hard that Talde will eventually start doing lunch, and more importantly BRUNCH.
You knocked my socks off, Talde.
Ok, ppl: it's your turn today! Talde is having their soft opening, and should be back in business by 5pm tonight. I know it's cold out, but bundle your ass up and head over there for dinner...I need some "man on the street" reports on how mind blowing those dumplings are.
369 7th Avenue (at the corner of 11th Street)