Restaurant Week
Some Christmas Humor

Tallula - First Impressions

A couple Wednesdays ago, Amy and I went to Tallula with our friends Mike and Jen. Although two weeks ago is quite awhile in Foodie time, it still remains fresh in my memory. The decision to go to Tallula that night was a long deliberated decision. We hadn't originally planned to go to Tallula, but were thinking we'd go to Thai Square. Amy and I have never been there and Mike and Jen swear by it. Another option was Ray's The Steaks, but I was terribly absentminded about making the reservation. When I called on Tuesday...uh...yeah, what else was I expecting -- completely booked the entire week. On the other hand, I'd been talking with Melissa via email out going to Tallula. The day we were supposed to go out, Jen emails me and suggests that we go to Tallula. We're there!

Of course, after we decided to go there, I started perusing their menu (which I have to say is one of the more tantilizing menus in the area right now) and IMing with Amy about it.  Of course you've all read about that already. Any place that had fried green tomatoes on the menu is all right in my book. I emailed Melissa asking her if I should make a reservation, but she said that Tallula did not take reservations unless you were a party of 7 or more. Bummer, there's only four of us. But Melissa said that on a Wednesday night, the restaurant should be able to handle us.

So when we arrived...45 minute wait. Crap. And let me tell you, when they say 45 minutes, they MEAN 45 minutes. But when it came down to it, I was glad we had to wait. We ended up sitting down at the bar area, which is really a restaurant in itself. There are these little booths that are separated by sheer curtains with small tables and ottomans surrounding them to sit on. The bartender came and gave us the menus. There were two bartenders covering the entire bar -- tables and all. They were also responsible for making drinks for the restaurant. To say the least, they seemed a little overloaded, but were handling it in style. The drink menu peaked our interest.  Drinks range from $7 to $9, which I thought was pretty reasonable for a place like this. Other similar restaurants will have a flat $10 drink price. We'll see how long it takes Tallula to do the same. The Wimbledon was a hit with Amy and Jen, but not because of any reference to the movie or tennis. The drink contains vodka, champagne, strawberry puree, honey, and is topped off with a pop rocks rim. This is probably as girly a drink as you can get anywhere. Mike and I, on the other hand, opted for the Old Fashioned, which turned out to be rather good. I also had a Tallula lassi later - Just think of a mango lassi from an Indian restaurant made with Bacardi Vanilla. Very good! Also, I have to admit that the Wimbledon was very good as well even if it was extremely girly. ;-)

We decided that we would have some food while we were waiting as well. On Tallula's menu, you'll find a "two-biter menu". Items on the menu are priced per piece and obviously each piece is meant to be eaten in two bites (duuuuuuuh). We ordered a few items off the menu including a couple foie gras finger sandwiches, "steak and cheese", citrus and vodka cured salmon, and corn dogs. We were waiting a while for the food to come and we started getting into a discussion about foie gras and whether it was right to eat it considering how they actually make it.

At some point someone asked "I wonder why it's taking so long?" to which Mike replied, "They're probably back there force0feeding the bird right now."

Amy then added, "Take it bitch!" And we all laughed hysterically.

(No seriously, animal cruelty is no laughing matter. I'm going to go donate money right now to PETA...)

I'll now jump to the part where I tell you that the beer-battered corn dog is totally kick-ass. Amy and I ended up ordering a couple more later with dinner. You could hate everything else at Tallula, but you'd have to go back for the corn dog. Of course, they don't use a real hot dog, but rather homemade chorizo sausage. YUM. Amy and Mike thought the foie gras sandwiches were ok, but had too much blackberry preserves and not enough foie gras. We commented to the bartender about this, and he told us that other people had just complained about there not being enough preserves. Guess you can't win either way. I rather liked the "steak and cheese" --  made on a cracker with steak tartare --  it was not your everyday steak and cheese. Billy Penn is rolling over in his grave. (If you're from Philly you'll get that.)

(Wow, this is the longest God-damn post ever. When is he going to get to the actual meal?)

After exactly 45 minutes of waiting, two or three drinks each, a bunch of two biters, and guilt over animal cruelty, we were seated. Rather than ordering wine, we just ordered another round of drinks. I was already fairly familiar with the menu, but I took one last look before I decided what I wanted. The waiter informed us that they were out of the rib-eye (which has actually since been changed to a t-bone), so that was out.  The braised shortribs sounded really good, but I was hesitant to order them since the ones we'd had at Komi a few nights prior were so good. I ended up ordering the roasted duck breast, Amy and Jen both went straight for the shortribs, and Mike, the butternut squash ravioli. For appetizers, we ordered some more of the two biters, crabcakes, and tuna tartare. Of course, they were out of the fried green tomatoes which was one of the main reason I wanted to go there. Our entire table was fairly upset. Sad, I know.

Once again, our food and drinks took a while to come out. I'm sure that since the restaurant is so new that the kitchen and bar are working out the kinks. Plus, since they were so crowded on a Wednesday night (probably unexpectedly so), the bar was understaffed. It's been a couple weeks so I'm be interested to see how they're faring now. Service on a whole was excellent - gracious and apologetic for the wait. Of course, we were in no hurry, so we just talked for a while.

One other thing worth mentioning is the wine list, of which Tallula highly prides itself. I was happy to see many wines in the $20 - $30 range. Glasses of wine come in half and full glasses and aren't just the cheaper wines. Prices for a glasse of wine range from $5 - $22 with, half glasses being about half the cost of a full.

By the time our food came out, we were pretty hungry again. Of course, we ordered more corn dogs because we couldn't get enough of them earlier. As well, we had the baby burgers. With caramelized onions and truffle butter, they were interesting. I don't have much to compare Tallulas "baby burgers" to because I haven't had anyone elses. (Tiny food is becoming trendy. I know Matchbox has had their "mini-burgers" for a while now and they have been a hit.) The beef had good flavor I think, but it was hard to taste over the stong onion flavor. We had the citrus-cured salmon as well, but while writing this, I couldn't recall anything except for the fact that I was thinking about a similar dish we'd had a Komi and how I thought Komi's execution was a little better.  Jen really enjoyed her crab cake with its roasted peppers and fresh crab meat. I tried it as well and agreed with her. I have to say the addition of coriander to the creme fraiche was good. I've promised myself that I won't ever order another crab cake unless I'm at the Maryland shore or at Jerry's. I'm just bound to be disappointed if I do. 

Shortly after we were finished with our apps, our entrees came out. Amy and Jen's shortribs looked outstanding. There was a lot more beef on the plate than I expected. The cheddar grits and green tomato salsa were a nice addition. Amy, our resident grit expert, gave her thumbs up sign of approval. The grits were a little larger than usual, which was a nice change and they had the perfect amount of cheddar cheese. The shortribs were all right. Amy really liked them, but I didn't find that they were as good as those we'd had at Komi a few weeks ago. Mainly, I thought that the cut of meat was fatty. Maybe it was because it was a Wednesday and the cuts of meat they had left we not the best. That was really the only thing that was wrong with the dish though.

Mike was just staring at his plate of 10 ravioli. He was doing math in his head and then blurted out, "These are some pretty damn expensive ravioli. They're like $1.50 each!". Just about every time we eat out with Mike and Jen, Mike ends up ordering a dish that is smaller than everyone else's and leaves him hungry at the end of the night. This is usually where my critics will speak up and mention that it is quality and not quantity that defines a meal and I shouldn't critique a meal by the size of the dish and blah, blah, blah. And in this case, I'll say that I agree with them. I tried the ravioli myself and I thought it tasted rather good and was well worth the $15 for the dish. It was a similar size to the ravioli dish we love at Spezie and around the same cost. NOT as good though...

The duck I ordered was good. The preparation was good with the duck confit and cranberry glace with the sweet complimenting the slightly gamey flavor that duck has. The duck was cooked a quite perfect medium rare, but slightly fatty. I wasn't blown away by this dish, but it was satifying.

We chose to skip dessert because we were pretty full after all the food we had eaten. Plus, it was getting late. It was already 10:15 and we had arrived at the restaurant at 8:00. The bill for the four of us was about $150 which didn't include the drinks and food we'd had at the bar before sitting down at our table.  All in all, it was pretty reasonable for four people. If we hadn't spent so much time at the bar, we wouldn't have spent nearly as much. I'll be going back for more corn dogs and to try the fried green tomatoes. Also, I was *this close* to ordering the pork chop, so I'll have to try that next time -- or maybe the scallops. I'm not sure. Tallula offers a lot of promise and could probably become one of the better restaurants in the area once they've worked out all the kinks. I can see us going there again, especially since it is literally around the corner from Mike and Jen.

2761 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22201

Parking on location and on the street.
Valet: None
Dinner: Sun-Thurs, 5:30-10:00pm, Fri-Sat: 5:30-11:00pm
Brunch: Fri-Sun only, 11:30am-2:30pm
Dress Code: Business Casual (but a nice pair of jeans will be ok)
Reservations: Taken for parties of 7 or more


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