Foodie Philly Weekend Part 2: Talula’s Table

Posted in Food by Elizabeth on August 11, 2010

Here is the main event, the reason we went, the end all be all of the trip: Talula’s Table. Talula’s Table is a great little market/cafe/restaurant just outside of Philadelphia in the Kennett Square area. If you were to pass this place from the sidewalk or see it from your car, you might think it is just a small market or cafe. The store front is quaint as is the inside, right down to the store clerks who are all wearing their own old fashioned, I’m pretty sure my grandma had that, adorable, country fashionable aprons. Even better than the decor is the stock that fills the shelves. From preserves and raw, local honey, to mustard (flavored with basil or black currant), to fresh pastas. And many, many cheeses. When we were there, a beautiful homemade cake was on display by the register that smelled of its coconut and lemon ingredients. The rustic icing and bright color made it hard not to ask for a slice. But I held back as we were there to experience the August tasting menu.

That’s right – Talula’s Table also serves dinner. There are only two tables inside Talula’s. One is in the main store area, a beautiful old wooden table that seats 12 and the other is in the kitchen with seating for 8. Both are highly coveted and, needless to say, difficult to reserve. Around this time last year, Julie was on the phone at 7am each morning to reserve the main table. After regularly missing the table by a minute, she explained her dilemma to the person on the phone(this was, of course, a gift to Jen for her birthday). It was then that she found out about the kitchen table and booked it for August 7, 2010. And so it was.
We started with some hors d’oeuvres (and a crisp prosecco):

First (and from left to right) came a lobster blt.  Though, when making lobster, bacon might not readily come to mind, the combination was in perfect agreement.  I would say that the bite size rolls were just a little bit bigger than an actual bite size, making it somewhat hard to eat.  Next came bbq duck on a crostini.  Not too complicated but oh so tasty.  To round the hors d’oeuvres off was tuna topped with a pickle in a puff pastry.  Those were delightful and confirmation that pickles and tuna are friends.  After enjoying these little bites, we were escorted into the kitchen where it was nice and warm.  Talula’s is byo so all of the wines we had brought were either open on the table (if they were reds) or chilled and ready to be poured in the fridge (if they were white).

We started with a chardonnay that complimented the crab galette and heirloom tomato salad.  There was a foam tartar sauce in the middle of the plate that was tasty – a not entirely useless foam.

Next came the corn soup which was rich and delicious.  It had surprise whole pieces of corn to crunch into that embodied the flavors of summer in a soup (oxymoron?).  The scallop in the center was excellent – this coming from a scallop lover who hates it when a scallop isn’t cooked well.  Interestingly, the scallop was not your normal scallop – it was a kind of scallop sausage.  The technique is basically the same as making a sausage – chopping the scallops raw, encasing them, cutting, searing, serving.  Different and almost unnoticed.  A lick the bowl soup.

the perks of being in the kitchen

The next dish obviously made me think of the Pixar movie that we all love, Ratatouille. Though it looked nothing like what the little rat serves to the big Ego critic, this ratatouille was a table favorite.  I was actually craving it on Monday at lunch.

Jen, Adam, and I agreed that this would also be a dish that, were it on a regular menu, would be excellent as a side to a tasty meat or, if it were a little larger, a great vegetarian stand alone dish.

And I have to say it…Anyone can cook!

Ok back to the meal.  Following the ratatouille was rockfish with clams and chanterelles. The topping of celery gave a nice crunch and freshness to the fish.  It was also excellent, but I have to admit that I forgot about it when we were recapping the meal on Sunday.  As we moved on to the red wines, out came the pork belly.  I think the table was split on this.  Adam and I said it wasn’t our favorite.  Jen and Julie were bigger fans.  It’s hard not to like pork belly so that’s not to say that this was bad, it just wasn’t the winner of my night.Now the bison might actually take that first place prize (with the soup and ratatouille in a close second place fight).  We were all so full by the time we got this plate and could not imagine wanting to eat another thing.

Then this beautifully medium bison is in front of us, with just a touch of mashed potatoes, a crisp almost elegant (if it can be) onion ring and a fresh cole slaw.   A light horseradish sauce drizzled the plate.  The bison was melt in your mouth tender and absolutely decadent with some mashed potatoes on the fork as well.  I can’t say I’m one of those people who loves and orders cole slaw everywhere or is by any means a cole slaw connoisseur (even being from Pittsburgh), but this one was just fantastic.  Not too much sauce, a great crunch to counter the tender meat and potatoes.  Before I knew it I had finished my plate!

Despite our busting bellies and our excellent wine drinking powers, there were still two plates left in the evening.  We rallied with some espresso shots and dove in to the finale.  The cheese plate had a great variety and lovely sampling of some mustards, honey, and preserves from the front of their store.  And the cantelope soup was a refreshingly light ending (though most of us were not into the terrine).

All in all we enjoyed an excellent meal with a couple bottles of wine leftover that went to the chefs as a thank you for lettings us crash the kitchen.  If you are planning a Philadelphia trip, be sure to call them for a reservation, or at least stop by the store for some goodies.  Bon appetit!


2 Responses

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  1. Leslie said, on August 11, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    what a spectacular evening – thanks for such a scrumptilicious play-by-play of the gustatory extravaganza!!!

  2. Meredith said, on August 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Mmmmmmm I like! 🙂 I want that bison! And nice ratatouille references. Thanks, Elizabeth, for a great review!

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