Reviewed by Christine and Aubrey
Aubrey, Mariann and I dined at Tallent a few weeks ago with our friend Stephanie. We were celebrating Mariann's awesome new internship and sending her off to Chicago. Restaurant Tallent, near the downtown square in Bloomington, is one of best places to eat in town. Part of the slow food movement, Tallent uses locally grown produce and locally raised meat whenever possible. Their seasonal menu is always full of creative and delicious combinations of ingredients. From that description you know it's going to be pretty pricey. The entrées range from $21 for the veggie, to $35 for local elk. Appetizers aren't cheap either, with only the soup under $10 (barely).
To start off the meal we were served an amuse bouche. This time it was a piece of crispy cod atop some tasty asian-inspired vegetables. The cod by itself wasn't particularly interesting but combined with the vegetables it was quite tasty. I ordered shrimp as an appetizer, which was served on two different types of grits. The shrimp were cooked well and the grits were nice and cheesy. Mariann and I split the Asparagus salad for our appetizer. It was yummy, the cheese and ham paired really nicely with the asparagus. The salad was served on a crouton which didn't really add anything to the dish, in fact the texture detracted from the taste of the other ingredients. The appetizer also came with a crispy soft boiled egg which I liked (Mariann didn't) but didn't really seem connected with the rest of the dish.
For an entrée, I had the duck topped with a rhubarb compote and served with mashed vanilla sweet potatoes and swiss chard. The duck was cooked perfectly, it melted in my mouth. I was worried that the vanilla sweet potatoes would be overly sugary but they were actually delicious, a great match to the savory duck. The swiss chard also helped balance out the sweetness, adding a subtle bitterness to the dish. Mariann and I both ordered the Sea Scallops which were delicious. They were seared to perfection and topped with a piece of braised pork belly and sauteed spring peas. Beneath the scallops were flageolets (I had to look them up!) studded with little bites of pork. I thought the beans provided a nice contrast to the rich scallops and pork but Mariann didn't really like the texture. A creamy lemon sauce was drizzled around the dish and added a nice touch of acidity. Stephanie got the only vegetarian entrée on the menu, the Vegetable Orzo. She thought it was very filling for a vegetarian dish but maybe a little too starchy. The orzo had a nice texture and the vegetables were really fresh and yummy.
The restaurant itself is lovely, light and airy, with contemporary light fixtures and white finishes. The wait staff is great, our meal was nicely paced and our glasses refilled promptly. We didn't order wine but the selection is excellent, with choices at all price levels. We decided to forgo dessert for the night, even though we saw several being served to neighboring tables that looked delicious. One dessert on the menu that caught our attention was mini donuts and a strawberry milkshake! If you're not looking to splurge on a meal, definitely check out Tallent for after dinner coffee and dessert. And if you are out for a fancy night Tallent is a fantastic choice.
208 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404
Their website, including the (current) menu!