Tallulah Review – A Lincoln Square Bistro

Approaching Tallulah


Having heard from several friends that dining at Tallulah’s was a culinary treat, we, Leon and Barbara, jumped at the opportunity to review Tallulah’s and experience it first hand.  We headed off despite warnings of a major snowstorm, which fortunately did not materialize, and were rewarded with a lovely evening long to be remembered.

The mirror reflect the restaurant and outdoors


It is in a great location on Lincoln Avenue just across from the Old Town School of Music where parking is easy on the street or in an adjoining city lot.  It was also fun to look across the street and see people moving in the window and others carrying various instruments to the music destination.

The bar is welcoming


Stepping through a heavy curtain, which kept winter winds out, we found ourselves in an intimate space with minimalist décor, clean lines and a calm feeling.  A large mirror reflected the room and the street.  The two of us were seated at a cozy table where it was easy to hear one another.  By the end of the evening, the ambiance, with it low lights and low, easy jazz, leisurely paced service and the fantastic food left us calmed and happy – also ready for a return visit for brunch or lunch.

Chef Troy Graves is unusually gifted.  When Tallulah opened in the spring of 2008, Chef Graves brought with him years of varied experience with resulting gustatory creations that we experienced as clean, fresh and imbued with an incredible range of flavors. Chef Graves has been in the Chicago area most of the last fifteen years at Meritage and Wine Bar where he was Executive Chef for four years, and Sous Chef before that.  Earlier on, after returning from the Gulf War, he worked under the tutelage of Kent Buell at restaurants in New Buffalo and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Waiter Kisong Mun and Chef Troy Graves


Seated and comfortable, our waiter, Kisong Mun took us under his wing.  Looking over the drink menu, we were impressed with the wide range of offerings, including beer, cocktails and many “by the glass” wines, all at reasonable prices.  Leon ordered the 2007 Triennes Viogueer from France.  It had a wonderful bouquet, a fruity flavor and was dry but not too dry.  Relaxing and enjoying the wine, Leon commented, “What a menu.  I’ve never seen a menu where I wanted to order nearly every item.”

The lights were low, the music easy and we felt relaxed as we made our menu choices.  

Appetizers:

Woodland Mushroom, Prune & Blue Cheese Tart Watercress, Sherry Vinaigrette


Barbara’s choice was the “Woodland Mushroom, Prune & Blue Cheese Tart Watercress, Sherry Vinaigrette”.  The tart had a smooth texture, pleasing flavors, a flaky crust and watercress that had flavors and textures that contrasted to the tart and were unexpectedly delicious.

Maryland Crab Cake, Local Sweet Corn-Crab Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis


Leon’s selection was the “Maryland Crab Cake, Local Sweet Corn-Crab Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Coulis”.  The contrast of the hot crab cake and the cold crab salad topping were a surprise in texture and flavor – a lovely surprise.

Soups:

Spiced Butternut Squash Puree Picled Fennel, Balsamic Syrup


Barbara was delighted to learn the “Spiced Butternut Squash Puree Pickled Fennel, Balsamic Syrup” had a vegetarian preparation and ordered it.  When it was served, the aroma was amazing and almost as satisfying as the taste of the marvelous blend of spices and perfect texture of the soup itself.

Salads:

Baby Spinach Salad Crunchy Pears, Gold Beets, Spiced Walnuts, Dried Cherry Vinaigrette


Leon’s love of spinach and beets lead him to the “Baby Spinach Salad Crunch Pears, Gold Beets, Spiced Walnuts, Dried Cherry Vinaigrette.”  The spinach was very good, but even better were the gold beets and the spiced walnuts with the flavors of the dressing heightening all the other flavors.

Entrees:

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Halibut Sweet Potato Puree, Boar Bacon, Tuscan Kale, Honey-Verjus Emulsion


Barbara ordered, “Pumpkin Seed Crusted Halibut Sweet Potato Puree, Boar Bacon, Tuscan Kale, Honey-Verjus Emulsion” (without the Boar Bacon).  This dish was just beautiful, decorated with an orchid and a scoop of sweet potato.  The flavor and texture of the halibut was perfect, but a surprising and wonderful experience was the Tuscan kale.  The texture and flavor was among the most delicious I have ever had.

East-Meets-West Steak Frites Peppercorn Crusted Steak, Garlic-Soy Jus, Yuzu-Togarashi Frites


Leon, taking the waiters’ suggestion, requested “East-Meets-West Steak Frites Peppercorn Crusted Steak, Garlic-Soy Jus, Yuzu-Togarashi Frites.”  The 2005 Bommarito Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, a full bodied and rich wine, enhanced the meal.  This was more than just Steak Frites, the spicy sauce on the frites was unusual and heightened the flavors of the tender, perfectly prepared
steak.

Desserts:

Ancho Chili and Chocolate Mousse Roasted Banana Bisque


Too full for individual desserts, we chose to share the “Ancho Chili and Chocolate Mousse Roasted Banana Bisque.”  Both of us agreed we had never tasted anything like this.  It was “about as decadent as you could get” – more solid and richer than any others we had tasted, and the banana enhanced the texture and flavor.

From the other side of the Dessert menu, listings included: Sweet Wine, Ports & Sherry and Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados and Leon decided to finish his meal with the Remy Martin Petite Champagne Cognac.  What a great ending to a marvelous meal.

Owner Matt Fisher and Chef Troy Graves have been so pleased with this venture, that they expanded and recently opened Eve at 840 Wabash.

Tallulah
4539 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60625
773.942.7585
tallulahchicago.com

Photos: Leon Keer
 


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