I didn’t like Dale Talde when he was on Top Chef. He was too cocky, had a bad temper and his butterscotch scallops (for which he was sent home) have been ingrained in my food memory as one of the worst looking dishes ever on that show. His starring role prior to Top Chef was sous chef at Buddakan (a guilty pleasure of mine, but at its core, just cheesy Asian fusion food). So I was surprised to find that I actually REALLY like his food! After some open-housing in Park Slope, we stopped by his signature restaurant, Talde. Despite my tendency to hate this entire genre of food, I found his dishes delicious and not coarse or overly contorted. Dale is quoted as stating in NYMag that I’m “trying to take the dirty word out of fusion.” Well, he has done just that. I’m a believer now.
Above was the lychee martini: super refreshing and yummy. The drink wasn’t overly sweet as most lychee martinis are. The lychee touch was light (and didn’t taste like Pucker) and the lemon-lime juices and bitters added a bright citrus note.
Some small snacks to start: Perilla leaf wrap filled with toasted shrimp, coconut, bacon-tamarind caramel and peanuts. Crunchy and vibrant. We both hate coconut, but it was thankfully barely noticeable.
Pork and chive dumplings in a pretzel wrapper. This was awesome. The pretzel was a bit thicker than a normal dumpling skin, and when fried got a lot more crispy and browned. It also had a nice saltiness, perfect when paired with the spicy mustard sauce. A very harmonious blend of two street foods from opposite sides of the world: dumplings and pretzels.
The best app (and probably the best dish of the night) was the shrimp toast topped with a fried egg, served with a thick sausage gravy. This dish was truly inspired: a highly creative iteration of East meets West served in the form of soul-satisfying comfort food. It was heavy for sure, but not superfluously so. Yum.
We got a little carried away with carbs after the apps. Please don’t judge! Above is the fried oyster and bacon pad thai. I found the pad thai overly sweet and basically over-done in all respects: I mean, was the bacon really necessary? ATO recognized that this wasn’t a skillful dish, but enjoyed that gluttonous heap of noodles nonetheless.
I enjoyed the much more simple side dish of shrimp fried rice much more. The shrimp was tender and juicy, the fried cracklings on top provided a great crunch and the bean sprouts a necessary freshness. But the rice was the best part. So much flavor in that rice! Coming from a noodle girl (and an Asian who generally eschews rice), that’s quite a compliment.
Finally, a bowl of ramen: roast chicken dinner ramen that is. Definitely not the best bowl of ramen that I’ve ever had, but I was left bewildered. Close your eyes and you’ll be immediately transformed to the 1950’s at an all-American Sunday dinner complete with roast chicken and stuffing. All this in a bowl with ramen noodles and seaweed. Totally trippy, and very good.
We’re completely converted. Asian fusion can be successful! We love this place!
PS - if you’re looking for something more casual and you’re craving straight-forward solid bar food, check out Dale’s laid-back joint, Pork Slope (http://photo-hungry.com/post/41977898527/pork-slope).
After an exhausting afternoon of rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, EW, JS, ATO and I headed straight to Dale Talde’s Pork Slope to satisfy our hunger pangs with some pub food done right. This place is solid - nothing fancy and nothing mind blowing - but just good ol’ greasy spoon grub, better than what you’ll find at any typical pub. All in all, it’ll fill you up, your hands might need a wipe-down afterwards and you might even feel a little sick…. in a good, “I was a glutton and couldn’t control myself and ate too much” way. This place would be a ridiculously good drunk food spot!
Here’s what we sampled:
Half a rack of St. Louis ribs. Now that’s something pretty.
Tater tots! Like really, really good tater tots.
Crispy mac and cheese, burnt edges and all!
Onion strings. Good on just about anything. Finished with a surprising nice kick!
Frickles! We cleared the entire table but for two frickles. They were good for frickles, but frickles always seem to be a better concept than they are a reality.
Brisket sandwich. Loved the toasted white bread.
Motherporker. WTF. That’s a lot of pork. And an egg for more richness. Cos we obviously needed more richness.
Shrimp po’ boy. Impossible to eat without dropping shrimp in your lap or smearing mayo all over your face. Delicious nonetheless.