Last night we returned to TALLULA after over a year and a half to find an entire new staff from the top down. Chef ANDREW MARKERT has taken over in the kitchen and has retained the basic menu setup with lots of new and fun turns.
There are still the small bites which really are a bunch of amuses available for about $3-4 each. We tried the creamy STEAK TARTARE with Cornichons & Worcestershire on Crostini which was yummy and just right for two bites (the creamy mayo texture with mustard made it quite rich). The SHORT RIB CROQUET (which we sadly found out leaves the menu today for the winter) was a dreamy crunchy treat full of tasty meat, garlic and parmesan on a bed of RED WINE AIOLI which I promptly mopped up.
We ordered a plummy yummy bottle of BOARDING PASS SHIRAZ 2006 from Barossa Valley Australia which is an adorable bottle having a label like a boarding pass (the three letter "airport code" is "AUS" for Australia) and on the rear a kind of pre-departure flight attendant demo cartoon showing them sniffing, swirling and tasting a wine.
The DIVER SCALLPS with CAULIFLOWER, PARMESAN "vol au vent" and Spicy Garlic was a tasty dish (although one scallop was slightly too firm for my tastes). The RABBIT PAPPARDELLE had monstrously wide ribbon pasta with Jasmine Tea, Pistachio Foam, Chives and Candied Pearl Onions. The onions were not really "candied" or caramelized" and were actually quite crunchy. This was tasty, but I do prefer them cooked a bit more (or I often taste them later!). The rabbit and pasta was divine, but I still don't get this foam thing as it has so little taste, but looked nice.
Our entrees were a monstrous portion of LAMB STEW with CHESTNUT RISOTTO, BACON, Cider Reduction and Fried Parsnips which was rich, yummy, filling and a total wintertime treat. The DUCK TWOFOLD offered up tender breast and rich confit with three types of BEETS (golden, purple and red), FIGS, Earl Grey (do you sense the chef likes tea) and CINNAMON TOAST. The confit on the toast was dreamy as it was not too sweet or sugary (just cinnamon-y) and it was really hard to find the tea taste, but it was hidden there somewhere, as I got a hint every now and then.
For dessert we split a superb RED WINE PEAR TART with PISTACHIO Ice Cream and Peanut Brittle that was more like a crumble or brown betty tart and was just right and not too big as well.
TALLULA has always been a great place, especially with the near-in Arlington restaurant scene not having a huge variety. Despite the present economy, the place was full when we left at 8pm as was EAT BAR next door, so they must be doing something right!