‘Intimate’, ‘family-run’ and ‘fine-dining’ are all words I would use to describe my dream restaurant if I were ever to open one. These are also words that repeat when reading about Talulla in Cambridge so it had to be somewhere that I had to dine. Red book and camera in hand, I was off to dinner.
I arrived about 30 minutes early to an empty restaurant and was told that I couldn’t be seated at the moment because I was too early. Fair enough, I understand that they had a seating plan for the evening, but this was a little curious seeing that other diners arrived after me also apologizing for being a little early and were promptly shown to their tables. Nonetheless, this gave me some time to take in the dining room. With a small white brick room and tables tightly organized to maximize the amount of diners, Talulla is truly intimate, perhaps a bit too intimate. But in the cutthroat restaurant industry where costs need to be managed they can hardly be faulted for this risk.
I was, eventually, shown to my table and presented the menu. It was explained that because of Boston’s Restaurant Week, the menu was a scaled down affair which was a bit disappointing seeing that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to try the advertised tasting menu but there was a 5 course tasting menu specially prepared for the occasion.
More diners arrived and there was a general buzz of excitement about the place – a good sign. Neighbouring tables were quick to strike up conversations with each other all discussing the food with great anticipation. My original apprehension about being at such close quarters with other tables started to disappear, or maybe it was the glass of exquisite champagne.
On occasion, my travels expose me to a dish that simply leaves me breathless lusting for more. Dishes where freshness, quality, creativity and simplicity all come together and, like an orchestra reaching its crescendo, gives me goosebumps with each bite. The Scallop Crudo was one of these dishes. Tender and sweet scallops, subtly earthy hijiki, plump juicy grapefruit with just the right amount of creamy avocado. My moans of sheer delight silenced my neighbours as they looked over my shoulder with envy and forks ready – I wasn’t going to share.
After the dreamy scallops a delightful Foie Gras Torchon was served. I love foie gras and have had some excellent ones and some forgettable ones too. Chef Dennehy’s foie gras was truly excellent. Perfectly poached and served with a delightful berry compote. The fresh berries, too, added a pleasing, juicy bite and the flavours melded in my mouth ensuring my post scallop crudo giddiness continued.
Salt Meadow Lamb was served as a main course. A roasted lamb shoulder subtley flavoured with harissa and served with black chickpeas. Again, the delicate flavours were simply mouth-watering. I do prefer my lamb medium-done as that allows the meat to stay juicy as lamb has a tendency to dry out quite quickly. Unfortunately, the lamb was well done and a little dry. I do accept that not everyone likes pink meat but perhaps, the kitchen could have sought clarification before roasting it. If it were medium cooked, this would have been another 5 star dish.
The last two courses were the Fresh Cheese followed by the Gâteau Breton. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of a cheese course as part of a tasting menu but I have to admit that the subtle smooth cheese served in a slow roasted onion was pleasant and not overpowering at all. After the meal, I was hoping for a light dessert. The last time I had tried a gâteau Breton, it was a rich, dense buttery shortbread affair. Tallula’s kitchen, here, managed to produce a light cake, served with an excellent fluffy mascarpone cheese and the crispy strawberries were refreshingly tart. This dessert was another winner and a perfect end to a fabulous meal.
Talulla is an intimate, family-run, neighborhood restaurant that truly does excel in producing some outstanding dishes and is a ‘very good’ restaurant. I have no hesitation in recommending it and can not wait to be back to sample some more of the exquisite and refreshingly simple dishes.
The numbers then …..
‘Triple F’ Factor 0/1