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Friday, June 18, 2010

Talara, Harbor East: Review and GIVEAWAY!

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:


Look at the presentation of their chips and salsa!  They taste as good as they look.

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.


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!


Talara on Urbanspoon


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.

28 comments:

Matthew said...

Those Seviche's look great! I'm most interested in that Ginger tataki

allthingsjuice said...

Oh, I LOVE ceviche (are there 2 spellings?). Of course I'd do traditional to set the bar, then I'd also try avocado and corn and the TIRADITO. Yum! Pick me!

Jen said...

My husband I just went to Talara for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I loved the Fire and Ice seviche. I really like the dips too (my favorite was the black bean hummus); I just had a hard time scooping up all the salsa from those little cups. But that's nothing a spoon couldn't fix! I also have to throw in a plug for the roasted corn and goat cheese croquetas; so good!

I would love to try the seviche sampler that you got. They all sounded really interesting, so it was hard to pick just one!

Style, via TIa said...

I am all over the CINNAMON AND CHIPOTLE PORK TENDERLOIN!!

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Damn. This is difficult. VERY difficult.

I'm a sushi fanatic, so naturally the concept of properly done seviche intrigues me to no end. But I'm torn between trying it with traditional South American fish and style ("When in Rome, do as the Romans do"), leaning Asian, or just going funky, and a Triple would allow me to mix and match--but then there's smoked salmon, oysters, shrimp, tuna..... I'd want to back off the "hot" flavors, so as much as "Fire and Ice" with crab intrigues me, probably Avocado & Corn, Asian, and tiradito with ahi, salmom, and crab or catch of the day.

But there's no way I'm going down without my lovely wife, the vegetarian who loves vegetarian sushi, so now I have to review the vegetarian selections...... I'm betting she'd get the wild mushroom flatbread tapas and follow that with the Paella Vegetario and a side dish.... now, you see, she has less to choose from, whereas I kid her that she can be so indecisive in a vegetarian or Indian restaurant, when this time it would be ME talking a half-hour to decide what to--

oooooooh, lamb ribs..... dammit, don't DO this to me, I already went with the seviche, dang it! Still trying to make up my mind back there, so.....

As a beer writer, I'd have to try and pick a beer to go with mine, so... do I get South American or American? I'd probably research the ones on the list, pick one, and they'd be out of that one.... I haven't had Quilmes or Palma Louca yet..... Hey, Sam, how was the Quilmes down there in Argentina? [researches beer ratings online....]

Dang..... get my hopes up, will you? Oh, yeah, final naked, brash appeal to your heartstrings: my wife's birthday is in July, and that would make a wonderful birthday outing, seeing as we've been paying off bills and are basically functionally broke, so..... pleasepleaseplease??? <:-)

Jenny B said...

Probably the blood orange margarita, the CURRIED TROPICAL FRUIT SEVICHE, and the CHIMICHURRI FILET MIGNON A LA PLANCHA. Your dessert looked great!

Carpline said...

I really, really, really want to try the Fire and Ice with Crab!

Vaish said...

I cant wait to try the key lme mojito and the tres leches desert!

Nakiya @ Taste of Baltimore said...

Vaish - Please leave me an email so I can contact you!

Jenny B - I'm pretty sure I know who you are :)

Emily said...

The Crabmeat Chili Relleno sounds pretty much to die for! I would love to try that!

Dan said...

Talara was so delicious, the Fire and Ice with crab ceviche was incredible.

When I go back, I definitely want to get a key lime mojito. Nice twist on the standard.

Anne said...

I've always wanted to try seviche, and that Fire and Ice one looks awesome!

Jamey said...

I haven't had Coconut Shrimp in a while so that's where'd I look if I went.

theminx said...

See - told ya it was fantastic!

Katie said...

I'm dying to try the avocada and corn seviche along with the coconut shrimp tempura! Definitely would love to check out Talara and make that happen!

nora said...

So many delicious things to choose from! Seviche may be my very favorite food, I'd have to try a few different kinds- definitely the Traditional and the Avocado and Corn versions will be on my list! The Chorizo-wrapped Scallops also sound fantastic, yum! Pick me because I can't wait to try Talara!

a-dig said...

great review! thanks for all your work!

a-dig said...

forgot to add how badly i want to try that chorizo scallop!!!

Michael said...

The crabmeat chilli relleno seems pretty much awesome. Any time you can have crab, something fried with a mexican twist mark me down. Any any place that has sopapillas seems good to me

TerpGal85 said...

The mussells cataplana and pork empanadas sound AMAZING. And the tropical fruit seviche may just sell me on the dish...i've had mixed experiences at other restaurants.

Mallory said...

I would get as many mojitos as possible because they are soooo delicious! And the ceviche!

Dana said...

I don't think I have ever had seviche actually, so I would have to start with that. I would go with the avocado and corn version because I LOVE avocado. The chorizo wrapped diver scallops also look amazing!

Tiffany said...

The seviche is what they are know for so I would love to try that!

Amy said...

I really want to try that crabmeat chili relleno!

Marla said...

Mojito and Paella party to celebrate summer!

Bria said...

easy. strawberry champagne mojito, pork empanadas, avacado and corn ceviche, corn/goat cheese polenta and a crab chile releno...

oh, was i suppose to only choose one thing?

celticwren said...

Ooo, I think I'd most like to try the wild mushroom flatbread, it sounds marvelous! Other items of interest, the roasted corn and goat cheese croquettas, and the paella vegetario.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

So who wins?

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