Monday, April 18, 2011

Veg Out: Talula's Garden

During our treehouse visit to Kennett Square last fall, we fell in love with Talula's Table.

Naturally, when we heard that Talula's Garden was opening in Washington Square, we booked a reservation a few days after the opening.

Of course it was pouring outside. No garden enjoyment for us. No pretty pictures. Though the charming space did look calm and inviting even as the storm ripped through. Another time, then.

We had incredible service throughout the evening, including the ever-so-helpful and otherworldly-pleasant Bonnie. She was like my serene vegan concierge for the night, bringing me a vegan option with the non-vegan bread offering, double-checking with the chef for each of my courses, very knowledgeable about the entire menu and what contained dairy, and on the ball through the very end when she brought soy milk with our coffee and appropriately charged us for the vegan app and vegan entree (marked clearly and priced accordingly on the check).

Then there was the food. With the fresh and inspired direction of the menu, the kitchen was bound to turn out something beautiful.

Seasonal vegetables prepared well? Check. My salad greens with shaved beets and grilled onions tasted like they were just picked. Lettuce of champions.

I was even more excited about my "mystery entree". I basically provided that I loved all vegetables and had no aversions, as long as it was vegan.

Seared cauliflower, grilled artichokes, fresh dill, baby asparagus, herb oil, and cauliflower foam? Well, you've just made my weekend.  This immediately went on my Must-Re-make-at-Home List. What a well-balanced, inventive entree highlighted with herbs and delicate touches.

As much as I love cauliflower, I don't think I've ever found it this satisfying before.

The eco-wine list has vegan options, by the glass or bottle, but we found the color coding on the key to be a little confusing, as the colored dots are very similar shades. I checked with the  bartender, who pointed out a Pinot Gris and Merlot.

Take note, however, that the bar itself is not quite up to the standards that the restaurant has set. I'm guessing it will work out the kinks, and you can't help but notice a couple of bar/cocktail flaws when you dine with the mixology police and a restaurant has just opened. He was gentle.

As for the vegetarian at the table, both his gnudi app and gnocchi entree were enthusiastically devoured with adjectives such as "surprisingly light", "far different from most standby restaurant gnocchi".

We ended with coffee, intrigued by La Colombe's new single origin, a Haitian delight via French Press. It was sweet and rich, like a dark hot cocoa. I added a tiny bit of soy milk (not necessary, just happy that they brought it out) and yes, it's officially dessert in a cup. Drink this now.

I sampled a bit of the rhubarb sorbet (vegan) from Mr. Vedge's dessert. The chocolate sorbet is also vegan. I don't jump for sorbet, but this made me happy...

When those warm, dry nights finally arrive, I can't wait to enjoy a glass of wine and that lovely salad in the garden. We do have the arrival of spring and summer produce to look forward to, and I'm curious to see how the menu (and the garden) grow.


RhodeyGirl said...

We haven't had a chance to visit yet, but now I'm REALLY excited to go there!!!!

kellywhitephillips said...

Go on a sunny day! Even though the indoor space is beautiful, I was a little sad about not being able to enjoy the garden.

MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

Sounds like a fun night filled with great food. It would be raining the night you go to a restaurant with a gorgeous garden :-/ maybe next time you'll be able to get some pictures!

Natalie @ AngstLovesSpinach said...

Thanks for the review - I was so disappointed when I saw the "sneak preview" of the menu posted and not a single verifiably vegan thing...which I thought was odd for a "Garden" restaurant. We will be making reservations as soon as the deluge of rain and allergies ends :)