Despite the day’s sad events, Shane and I decided to continue with our plans for New Years’ Eve, which is also our anniversary. We had dinner reservations for at Tallula in Arlington – for the holiday they featured a special menu with wine pairings which, while expensive, seemed like an ideal way to have a laid-back, not overly social evening. Our menu, along with impeccable wine pairings (not listed):
quail egg, cinnamon guanciale, Perigord oil
Trio of Oysters
Oyster Stew w/ sherry froth, Fried w/chipotle aioli, Raw w/chile & lime granite
Shane had the soup, which was rich and flavorful, with the egg adding an extra amazing something. I had the oysters – the stew was served in a tiny espresso cup, the fried one reminded me of a clam strip from White Castle except much, much faster, and the raw one was, well, awesome.
Seared Foie Gras
quince, Concorde grape syrup, star anise
5 spice, lobster claw, mango, paddlefish caviar
Shane was disappointed that the ravioli was less than perfectly formed. The sauce was delicate and delicious, as was every other aspect of the ravioli – except for the fact that everything came squishing out with the first bite. I had the fois gras because I’d never had it before and it’s illegal in Chicago and I figured I’d only want to try it once, so might as well make it NYE. It was VERY rich and not something I’ll probably eat again, but it was an interesting experience, a little bit overwhelmed by the sweetness of the quince and the paired wine.
Pan Roasted Cobia Fillet
preserved lemon, lobster, tarragon
Seared Diver Scallops
celery root, leeks, vanilla-saffron butter
We both opted for the scallops, which were absolutely perfect in every way – delicate but flavorful, rich but not overwhelming. I could have had five courses of this and been entirely happy. I was also very tempted to lick the plate. The scallops were scored on the top and lightly seared, and the vanilla-saffron butter sauce was just incredible.
Smoked Venison Loin gruyere potato gratin, chanterelle mushrooms, thyme sabayon
Braised Beef Cheeks
Perigod truffles, Yukon potatoes, braising jus
Shane had the beef, which I didn’t try because the last time I had beef was February of 1996. He seemed pleased with the beef, but disappointed that he didn’t get the venison. Oh god, the venison. It was rare-ish and incredibly flavorful, melting in your mouth, with the sabayon providing a mild savory counterpoint. The gratin was perfect, as were the mushrooms. Unfortunately for me, I was pretty full by this point in the meal, so Shane benefited from my lack of hunger.
I can’t remember the specifics of the fifth course, unhelpfully NOT described on Tallula’s website, but I had a chocolate mousse with blood oranges and a bit of Creme Anglaise, while Shane had a mango (and/or passionfruit) tart with meringue and a bit of coconut ice cream on top of a pile of dark chocolate shavings. Both were delicious, though the mousse was a bit overwhelming after the four previous courses.
All in all, it was a wonderful dining experience, and I’m looking forward to going back for brunch or drinks.