Chris and I have been watching the tv show Top Chef for the last five years. Being the culinary adventurists that we are, we get a kick out of seeing rising star chefs take each other on in wild challenges–which would drive a normal person insane.
Due to our fondness for the show, when Dale Talde, who is one of our favorite Top Chefs, announced he was opening Talde in Park Slope, Brooklyn, we counted down the days until the doors opened. Our last experience at a Top Chef’s restaurant, Girl and the Goat, was excellent, so naturally we had high standards.
Normally, we wait for a restaurant to get through its first few months before we eat there, simply because they’ve usually worked out the kinks by then. Since we broke our usual rule, we expected potential issues with the food and service. Impressively enough, we didn’t find many flaws with the meal, and none with the service.
Our friends Katie and Brooke joined us for the meal, so this meant we could try quite a few dishes. Chris volunteered to take pictures, which was great for me, as this meant I could take the night off and savor the food. We waited almost seventy five minutes for a table, but the bar area was very cozy. They had a Chicago Blackhawks game on the tv high above the bar, which fulfilled an early promise–Dale loves his Chicago sports. The staff was extremely friendly, so the time went by very quickly.
We agreed as a table that the appetizers and salads were the best.
- Perilla Leaves with Toasted Shrimp, Coconut, Tamarind-Caramel, Peanuts: our server warned us that these tiny leaf sandwiches exploded with flavor, but we didn’t buy it. She was right. There was a hidden flavor they’re not disclosing, because the “boom” experienced in our mouths reminded me of pop rocks–minus the fizzle.
- Shrimp Toast with Chinese Sausage Gravy: hearty slices of fried toast containing nice bites of shrimp. We were hoping for a little more sausage in the gravy, but the pairing worked.
- Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings: BAM! This is an all-star appetizer. This is the kind of snack you can walk into the bar and order with a beer. The dumplings arrived with a punchy mustard dipping sauce, and the skin had accents of pretzel.
- Hawaiian Bread Buns: we ordered one of each, which were Crispy Long Island Fluke, Shiitake Mushrooms and Filipino Pork Sausage–all dressed with garlic vinegar mayo and pickled shallots. We enjoyed the sausage most out of the three. They had a nice crunch from the shallots too.
- Heirloom Squash and Silken Tofu with Kale, Apples, Cider Ponzu: this was by far, the dark horse of our meal. The kale was fried, so it added a nice crunch. The squash soaked up the cider ponzu, so it was like two flavors in one. We really just loved that crunchy kale though. Wow, just wow.
Moving on to the entrees, we felt these were good, but not as amazing as some of the appetizers.
- Black Pepper Beef Brisket with Pickled Daikon over Black Pepper Butter Toast: the daikon made this dish. What a fun way to present “Filipino-style bbq”, and the toast soaked up all of the bbq sauce underneath. We will definitely try the toast on its own next time.
- Korean Fried Chicken: Chris didn’t think the chicken was cooked like other KFCs he’s had before. We wondered what Dale’s technique was for the chicken, but the flavors were certainly there.
- Shrimp Fried Rice: who doesn’t love fried rice? We found ourselves nibbling on the shrimp, long after we were stuffed.
All in all, we had a wonderful dining experience at Talde. The service and ambience were great, and the food will be amazing in no time. The restaurant has absolute staying power with the eccentric dishes they are serving, which in most respects, is really Filipino stoner food. Next time, we are going to try their soups, as other patrons were raving about them. Dale Talde certainly lived up to his Top Chef reputation–we are very happy to have him in our Brooklyn neighborhood.