Winter Cuisine in… Bloomington?

Indeed, you CAN find truly delicious delights in southern Indiana in the middle of winter. I recently had the pleasure of dining at one of Bloomington’s real treasures, a wonderful little restaurant called Tallent, located on the Square downtown. [Check it out here: http://restauranttallent.com] It’s true, this is probably the priciest restaurant in town (think $$$ on one of those pricing guides you sometimes see in travel books), but it is also arguably the best. Chef David Tallent is both highly trained and highly inventive, and he uses local meats and produce whenever possible. His menu changes several times a year with the seasons and he augments the ingredients available locally with fresh, high quality ingredients from the best locales, such as Atlantic seafood that’s probably still jet-lagged when you eat it.

I have the good fortune to work as a Course Assistant with a professor who feels hard work should be rewarded with excellent food. At the end of each semester, he treats his CAs to a meal at one of the best places in town. Last spring, my fellow CA and I chose Scholar’s Inn (another wonderful place to dine) and at the end of this past semester, we went to Tallent. During the week, they offer a five-course prix fixe tasting menu prepared for the whole table. We felt adventurous enough to give this a shot and I have to say, it was fabulous. Our first course was a plate of succulent Prince Edward Island mussels with vanilla fries, followed by butternut squash agnolotti with seasonal herbs, which was especially flavorful and went over very well. Third, we were treated to a plate of delicious Atlantic sea bass unusually but scrumptiously paired with sweet potato balls and a bit of caviar. Our main course was the highlight for me – beautiful Indiana rib-eye, medium rare, with spinach and seasoned cubed potatoes. And for dessert, gingerbread waffles with caramelized pear and brown sugar ice cream! The whole experience lasted around 3 hours and the service was great, too.

The prix fixe will run you $60 per person and it changes every night, depending on what the Chef feels like preparing, but the courses are usually all items on the current menu and a somewhat cheaper meal is possible. So if your folks want to feed you when they’re in town, or you’ve got a prof with a taste for fine cuisine, Tallent is an excellent option. It might be winter in the Midwest, but there’s no need to store up your acorns and wait for the spring to treat yourself to a tasty food experience.