The other night, I was invited to dine at Talara, a Nuevo Latin Bistro in Harbor East. The meal was spectacular and the restaurant and its food are inventive, vibrant and fun. I was consistently impressed with how much flavor the dishes had, they really did knock my socks off! :) Please read on for my review and my AWESOME giveaway at the end!!!!!!
Dan and I both started with mojitos - him with an original and me with a key lime mojito, both of which are on the Happy Hour menu for $5 each (or for approx. $10 on the regular menu). I am a HUGE fan of mojitos and these did NOT disappoint, especially mine which was made with vanilla rum and a splash of key lime juice. It was much sweeter, and so unique. I wouldn't hesitate in ordering this again! The chips and salsa ($7) came next in the loveliest presentation I've ever seen:
Seriously - how awesome is that?! They had their regular salsa (great), black bean hummus (which I wanted to jar and take home) and their tropical salsa (with the addition of kiwi! Love it!) which they served with plantain, tortilla and malanga chips.
Look at the presentation of their chips and salsa! They taste as good as they look.
Top-Bottom: Asian Tartare with Tuna, Fire and Ice with Crab, Tiradito with Yellowtail
Next up was the seviche, where you pick your seafood of choice and its preparation. There ARE semi-cooked options for those who feel nervous about raw fish.
We tried these 3 kinds ($21):
1. Asian Tartare with Tuna - Tuna is seasoned with soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil and capers. Served on sushi rice with white truffle oil, wasabi mayonnaise, caviar and fried lotus root. Excellent! You will love this if you love sushi!
2. Fire and Ice with Crab ($1 extra) - Crab + fresh lime + habanero + cilantro + scallions + red onion + prickly pear granita = RIDICULOUSLY DELICIOUS. Hands down my favorite. I didn't want this to end. First of all, look at it, it's gorgeous! The granita was a vibrant pink! The flavors were amazing together; I love the kick and slow burn of the pepper with the cooling effects of the granita.
3. Tiradito with Yellowtail - Peruvian-style Sashimi with lemon juice, cilantro oil, chili and chipotle paste and sea salt. Served with jicama and calabaza slaw. The fish here is the star, and you can definitely taste its quality. I loved this because it was so simple and fresh, and tastes great with the crunchy slaw.
I also tried some Happy Hour Tapas, which are on the HH menu for $5! In the first picture is the Chorizo Wrapped Diver Scallop served with a creamy roasted corn and goat cheese polenta (also available as a mid plate for $18, which would include 3 scallops and a side of spinach). TRY THIS. TRY THIS RIGHT NOW. The chorizo wrapped scallop = awesome. The polenta? OMG melt-in-your-mouth EPICNESS. It was soooo creamy and I loved the little pops of roasted corn!!!!!!!!
The Blackened Chicken Tostados (also available as a regular tapas for $8 and you can choose to have either chicken, pulled pork or black beans) were also really great, and I could see a lot of people ordering this for Happy Hour as well. You will love them in all their super crunchy and cheesy glory.
Oh - and I'm sure you noticed the colorful drinks in the background? Why yes, I ordered a blood orange margarita which was FABULOUSSSSSSSSS and Dan ordered a Pisco Sour which was very pretty, very unique, very not me :)
We were also given two "mid-plates" to try. I laughed when I saw that these are referred to as mid-plates. These are portion sizes we should be eating, people!!!! We tried the Cinnamon and Chipotle Pork Tenderloin ($15) nestled on a sweet potato and pea croquette, topped with wilted spinach and mushrooms all while floating in a cranberry sherry cream sauce. Now doesn't that sound marvelous? It really was. The chef agreed that it's a very "Fall" dish, and will probably discontinue it soon and bring it back later on in the year. I agree with him, this dish is wonderfully comforting, but not something that people will really appreciate until the leaves start turning. I loved the the combination of the fried outside and the sweet and creamy middle of the croquette, especially when dipped a couple of times in the sauce :)
The other dish we tried was the Crabmeat Chili Relleno ($16), basically huge lumps of crab stuffed in a Poblano pepper, tempura fried and then baked with cheese. Awesome!!!! There was so much crab! So much fried goodness! I loved this dish, and the saffron rice with beans was a great accompaniment.
Of course, because it's me you're dealing with here, I made room in my tummy for some desserts: a Tres Leches Cake and some Sopapillas with 3 different scoops of ice cream: cafe caramel, mango sorbet and white chocolate with raspberry. The ice creams, though not made in-house, were creamy and satisfying, and I loved the tang of the mango sorbet. The sopapillas themselves were fried and coated with honey - eat them plain or with a dollop of ice cream! The Tres Leches Cake was wonderfully moist and melted in your mouth. I also thought the strawberry syrup was a nice touch.
PHEW. I am impressed if you read this much. I am also crazily impressed with my stomach right now for consuming that much, but I DO IT FOR YOU, I TELL YOU! :) Seriously though, it was an absolute pleasure to eat at Talara. Dan and I had an excellent meal and we honestly can't wait to go again!
I must urge you to try the seviche here. Even if you come for dinner, the seviche was a definite highlight for the both of us. Of course, if you wanted to try a Baltimore Happy Hour like no other, this is DEFINITELY the place to come as well!! Mon-Fri, 4-7PM and Sat, 10PM-1AM (smart move!!!). $5 cocktails, including 3 mojitos, sangria, capirinha and more; $4 wine; $3 beer; and $5 tapas.
So on to the GIVEAWAY!!!
I have a $50 gift certificate to Talara up for grabs!!!!!! To enter, Check out Talara's menu and then leave a comment telling me what you can't wait to spend your gift certificate on!! Good luck! I am so excited for you!
I am only accepting one comment per person. Please make sure I have a way to contact you! The giveaway will end next Friday the 25th at 11:59PM and I will RANDOMLY pick the winner that weekend!
DISCLAIMER: Though this was a free tasting, I was not asked to write a positive review and felt no inclination to write anything which did not reflect my true opinion of Talara. Talara is also generously providing me with the $50 gift certificate for my giveaway.