Back in the day, Seventh Avenue in Park Slope was the place to be for a taste of Manhattan in Brooklyn. Then came the influx of hot new restaurants like Al Di La and Brooklyn Fish Camp to Fifth Avenue. But that trend appears to be reversing with the arrival of Thistle Hill Tavern and Talde. The connection - Dale Talde and his partners, David Massoni and John Bush. Together they have created eateries that are as comforting as they are enjoyable.
On a wintery night at around 9pm, when most restaurants are starting to thin out, there was still a good half hour wait at Thistle Hill, so with a hungry kid in tow, we decided to move on to Talde a few blocks away. The restaurant is much larger and the wait a bit shorter. Ornate oriental woodwork and dragons greet you at the door, while an open-air kichen in the back captures the crew hard at work, cooking up meals that are meant to be shared. Even more special, the fact that Dale Talde was spotted in the kitchen this night.
Chef Talde comes with a lengthy resume, including stints with Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Vong in Chicago, and more recently with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto at Morimoto in Manhattan, where he most likely picked up his knack for bold flavors.
They are most evident in his Perilla Leaf ($5). While I envisioned some sort of pastele, what arrived was far different. Six minty leaves, each about the size of a half dollar, sprinkled with bits of toasted shrimp, coconut, bacon-tamarind caramel, chilis and peanuts. It makes for an adventurous and fiery first bite. Another dish that should not be missed - the chicken wings ($9/$16). While a bit messy to maneuver, they are heaven to eat. They are coated with a thick sweet and pungent sauce mingling with lots of chilis and crushed peanuts. Talde is also known for his signature Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings ($8). These plump pork-filled pockets are fried crisp and served with a spicy mustard sauce. I'm not a huge fan of samosas, but I liked the ones at Talde's; crispy star-shaped bites filled with a pleasant mix of veggies with just a hint of curry.
My favorite dish of the night was the Wok Charred Black Angus Ribeye ($26). Large chunks of tender beef are stir-fried in a black pepper caramel sauce with caramelized onions, bell pepper and basil. My only complaint is that the dish disappeared so quickly. The Smoked Char Siu Pork Shoulder ($19) is a close runner up. Morsels of smoky pork are served with paper-thin slices of pear that simply melt away in your mouth. Our final dish was the Shrimp Egg Foo Yung Fried Rice ($10) which, while good, was a bit too eggy for me, although that didn't stop us from clearing the plate. On a future visit, we'll have to try the Korean Fried Chicken ($23) which appeared to be a hit at several tables nearby, along with some of the noodle dishes. Desserts include a shaved ice parfait with fruits and tapioca pearls, and a creamy chocolate pudding with bruleed marshmallows and candied orange.
Talde is the perfect spot for a night on the town, or just snuggle up to the bar with a cocktail or maybe a glass of wine and some snacks. How about another order of those wings?