Sunday, May 5, 2013

TALDE

TALDE is a casual Asian-American restaurant and bar brought to you by Chef Dale Talde (of Top Chef fame), punk rock photographer and bartender John Bush, and restaurateur David Massoni.  Located in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, NY we had the pleasure of dining at TALDE for our last meal during our weekend trip.


The 65-seat restaurant offers guests a casual and comfortable, yet elevated, dining experience, showcasing Asian-American fare reflective of the distinct cultural and culinary experiences of Executive Chef/Partner Dale Talde. The website describes: "A native of Chicago, raised by first-generation Filipino immigrants, Chef Talde effortlessly blends the tastes, ingredients and nuances of a wide swath of Eastern and Western cuisines and techniques. The result is a menu that explores new, and at times unexpected, combinations of flavors."

We did not make reservations in advance and walked in prepared to wait long.  We put our name on the list and were informed we could wait at the bar for an hour until a table was free.  We looked over the cocktail menu and I ordered the Navy Grog made with diplomatico rum, lime-grapefruit juices, and honey syrup.  It came with a little Japanese paper flag, but I was not a fan - firstly, because I do not like dark rum and I didn't realize it was made with dark rum and secondly, the honey syrup was too sweet and thick for me.  Although the drink was shaken pretty well with the citrus juices, the drink was too overpowering for me and the glass was left half-full.  Keith did not bother finishing my drink as he was content with the Brooklyn ale he'd been drinking all weekend long.

The bar itself features impressive Asian mahogany wood-carvings that Bush and Massoni salvaged from an antiques warehouse in Pennsylvania. The woodwork - moldings, wall coverings, window frames, mantle pieces and more - originally made up an “Oriental Study” in the early 20th century upstate New York mansion of Arnold Constable, owner of one of the oldest and most successful department store chains in America, Arnold Constable & Company. The intricately carved pieces, which depict a myriad of Asian symbols such as dragons, phoenixes, samurai warriors, elephants and fu dogs, are the creations of Maeda Yasube Yoshitsugu from Osaka, Japan, who was known for his work on shrines in the Nagano Prefecture during the Edo Period around the mid 1800s.  It was quite intricate and not what I expected to see in the self proclaimed "casual bar." 

Not that long after, the hostess informed us that if we wanted to be seated earlier, we could sit at the 6-seat chef’s counter with views into the open kitchen.  I jumped on the opportunity, as I always enjoy watching the Chef and team as they work.  One could easily interact with them, but I am much more quiet and observant.  Here is what my direct line of view looked like:


The only downside is that you feel the direct heat from the kitchen, which can get uncomfortable at times.  I was also worried we may not have the same attention from a server as we would had we been seated at a regular table, however, that was no issue at all.  We had looked over the menu before we arrived and were overly excited to try as many dishes as we could.  They all sounded great - and were a fun play on traditional Asian dishes fused together and crossing cultural lines.  For example, we started with the Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings.  Served with a spicy mustard, the outer "shell" of the dumplings were made with pretzel dough and sprinkled with salt that when dipped in the mustard, I literally started laughing after my first bite.  "Why are you laughing?," Keith asked.  "Because this is hilariously so good, " I answer.  He then took a bite and exclaimed, "Holy expletive!" What else can I say but it was delicious.  The filling inside was very flavorful and the dumplings were as if a Korean mandu and German pretzel had a child.  Genius!

After polishing that plate, we shared the Hawaiian Bread Buns.  This trio of sliders featured Filipino pork sausage, crispy fluke, and shiitake mushroom, each on a sweet Hawaiian roll with garlic vinegar mayo and pickled shallots.  I only took a small bite of the Filipino sausage and while it had a different and intriguing flavor, it was too greasy for me.  I really enjoyed the fish and mushroom sliders though.  Keith commented that he would have preferred if each slider had its own different sauce, but I didn't mind the garlic mayo as it was super tasty.

Next, arrived the Lobster Tom Kha.  I am a huge fan of this spicy Thai soup made with coconut milk and even tried to make my own version at home.  Chef Talde's preparation came with rice noodles, sweet chunks of lobster, fresh corn, bean sprouts, and sliced boiled potatoes.  The bowl was pretty generous and more than enough for two people to share.  The soup had a little more spice than I would usually like, but the coconut milk mellowed it out enough for me that I slurped up the very last drop.  Keith also easily drank up the soup and this dish remains one of the most memorable from the evening.

While I finished off the soup (read: licked the bowl), Keith enjoyed the Wok Charred Black Angus Ribeye.  It had a black pepper caramel sauce and lots of holy basil that added a bright flavor.  The meat was perfectly cooked medium-rare, something not typical in a Chinese-style dish such as this.  To accompany the "main dishes" we ordered the Shrimp Egg Foo Yung Fried Rice and the #369 daily vegetable, which was asparagus.  We mainly ordered the rice dish since the name implied another fusion of egg foo yung plus fried rice.  However, a large bowl of mostly fried rice arrived - no "egg foo yung-ness" (no gravy), and barely any shrimp.  We dug through the bowl and only found one shrimp that was cut into three pieces.  While the rice was cooked well, it was a bit disappointing compared to the other items we enjoyed already.   The asparagus was fresh and crispy, with a spicy sauce on top made from seafood broth, chili peppers, and hazelnuts that added an interesting dimension to the vegetable. But the asparagus was cooked in way too much peanut oil leaving a greasy mess.  Mixing the asparagus with the fried rice tasted good and we decided to take whatever was left of those two dishes home.

We were totally stuffed, but I overheard the server telling another couple the dessert offerings.  Did I hear him say halo halo!?!  Halo Halo is a wacky Filipino dessert similar to the Korean bing soo.  I first learned of this Filipino dessert from a recent episode of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown: Koreatown.  While in Los Angeles to check out the wonderful food offerings of Koreatown, Chef Roy Choi somehow ends up taking Tony to a Filipino fast food chain that offers this "sundae" made of shaved ice, condensed milk, beans, leche flan, purple yams, tapioca, plantains, coconut, more fruit and topped with ice cream.  Having grown up in Hawaii where the Filipino culture is quite prevalent, I was quite shocked that I was unfamiliar with this treat and it has been on my foodie bucket list ever since I saw that episode.  Chef Talde's version is topped with Cap’n Crunch cereal (what!? yes!), coconut jellies, pineapple jellies, fresh banana slices, mango puree, and tapioca pearls.  It was cold, odd, sweet, and confusing to the mouth as both the temperature and textures fluctuate with each bite.  It was the perfect way to end our Asian-fusion meal at TALDE.  We have been to a couple other Top Chef restaurants before, but to date, TALDE is the most unique and fun and provided us with a memorable meal in Brooklyn.

Total Rating: 4.48
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 3.5

What I ate:
Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings
with spicy mustard

Hawaiian Bread Buns
(Filipino Pork Sausage, Crispy Fluke, Shiitake Mushroom)
all with garlic vinegar mayo and pickled shallots

Lobster Tom Kha
coconut milk, rice noodles, corn

Shrimp Egg Foo Yung Fried Rice

#369
asparagus

Halo Halo
shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk, topped with Cap’n Crunch,
coconut, pineapple, bananas, mango, tapioca pearls

Plus Keith ate:
Wok Charred Black Angus Ribeye
black pepper caramel, holy basil

Talde on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. hey guys,
    for me you missed two of the best dishes of the restaurant:
    - Kung Pao Chicken Wings
    - Smoked Char Siu Pork Shoulder
    if you go again TRY THEM!!!!

    - a tourist from germany!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the suggestions Steve - we did see those items and wanted to try. Too many good things, and too small of a stomach. Ha! Definitely next time!

    ReplyDelete

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