Talula’s Garden Review
Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia has become an institution among restaurants in the city since it opened its doors 2011. Having been patrons of all of the Stephen Star establishments in the city, this restaurant quickly became a family go to.
The farm to table cuisine is highly seasonal, pretty ambitious and overall generally well prepared. This recent visit was somewhat of a let down not nearly to the level or expectations we have experienced at this restaurant. Apologies for the pictures I didn’t have my Nikon during this trip.
Food Course by Course
Full disclosure I’m a bread nut and love brioche. These piping hot, flaky, buttery rolls topped with whipped marscapone and salt are ridiculously good. Ask for a second helping of them.
Cornmeal Fried Chesapeake Oysters
The oysters were slightly overcooked, but not to the point of destroying them. They had the right amount of breading, which was light and crispy. I found the remoulade on the bottom of the dish far too heavy-handed and overpowered the rest of the ingredients. The wonderful flavor of ramps was not present nor the spice you expect from a remoulade. You would be hard pressed when eating everything as a single bite to be able to distinguish the flavors of each ingredient.
Focaccia di Recco
‘Focaccia di Recco’…Whipped Ricotta, Farmstead Bacon, Leek, Fresno and Asparagus ‘Pesto
I kinda of liked this “Focaccia”. It was piping hot, tasty and extremely filling. There was far too much ricotta, uneven amounts of bacon (didn’t get to try with bacon) and slightly too much grease. However, the flavors were good and everything seemed to work as described.
Goat Cheese Gnocchi
The gnocchi were made well. They were fluffy, light and matched the rest of the dish well. I got neither sweet onion nor parmesan out of the “fondue”. It basically tasted like lemon. An earthier, nuttier cheese would have done wonders to the dish instead of the current sauce. Kind of a disappointment for someone who loves gnocchi as much as I do.
Maryland Crab and Saffron Chitarra
The pasta had the right texture, cooked correctly and matched the sauce well. Although, none of the Saffron came through in the pasta and I have to question the use of another cream based sauce. Not that I’m a stickler with the never pair seafood and cheese mantra, I felt like the sauce missed its mark and overpowered the crab.
Roasted Rohan Duck Breast
I love duck and prefer to order it over most other cuts of meat when dinning out. The duck was overcooked, but tender. I prefer to eat mine medium rare. I just hate seeing proteins ruined. The sausage was good, but not the prettiest looking thing in the world. The Farro was tasty with the greens. Overall solid entrée and huge portion. It would have been great if they just properly cooked the focal item of the plate.
Petit Butcher Filet
My father seemed to really enjoyed his beef dish. The several bites I was permitted to eat were tasty. The beef was cooked perfectly, super tender and the garnish all worked well.
Shaved Fennel & Arugula Salad
Shaved Fennel & Arugula Salad, Sweet Sliced Strawberries, Fresh Garden Herbs, Walnuts and Peppery Lentil Dressing
I ordered this salad because of the main ingredients fennel and arugula which are favorites. The sweet strawberries succulent were buried underneath and the herbs along with the walnuts were almost nonexistent. This salad could have been delicious but the peppery lentil dressing was overpowering and smothered all the ingredients. I really did not taste any pepper or heat.
The Carrot Cake was good. No risks taken with this dessert but executed really well. Nothing to fault.
Great desert, clean flavors and one of the better dishes of the night. The dense Cremeux was super chocolatey and the vanilla salt on top just worked. I would order this again. Anyone who loves mint and chocolate would love this as well.
I love what they have done with their wine and beverage program. I commend them for seeking out small bio-diverse and organics wines. However, 4 to 5 times mark up per bottle of wine from retail cost is really absurd. Even by New York City standards that’s far too much price gauging. The bottle of El Nino was a decent bottle wine for its retail price of $14, albeit fruit forward with nothing else going for it, but priced at $68 on a menu is unjustifiable.
Tabula’s Garden is a solid dinning choice in the heart of Philadelphia. The beautiful space outclasses the food, but their cheese plates rival those of any restaurant in the United States. I wish they were truly more farm to table and less reliant on dairy in every course. I think they try way too hard on combinations and cramming as much into one plate. Simplifying, focusing on textures and flavors would do this restaurant a world of good.