Brunch at Talula’s Garden (Philadelphia, PA)
On a recent blisteringly hot Sunday afternoon, we headed over to Talula’s Garden for brunch. We’re quite taken by the unusual entrance to the restaurant as you’ll first encounter the beautiful outdoor terrace dining space where several brave souls dining their way through this heat. We seek shelter from the brutal heat and was welcomed by the spacious dining space that feels almost felt like we’re in an upscale French country home with its center room having Alice Waters’ quote “A garden brings life and beauty to the table” on the top of its walls and buzzing with conversations from the packed house.
We learned soon enough that the food is really about the highlighting how delicious the local farmers’ produce are (and meats, too). We never thought of obsessing over a plate of tomato salad but we did when we ate here and all of their portions are toward the hearty side.
We were parched from the heat, so we made many rounds of drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic): apertifs of a Beefeater gin-based lemon-y cocktails of The Painter ($11 each). A bottle of house made cucumber infused water ($4) that was very cooling and refreshing, a slightly off balanced glass of fresh pressed carrot-orange juice blend ($5) that might have too much orange juice than carrot, and many large pots of French pressed Haitian coffee ($9 each) that we loved (low acid, medium bodied and loved how smooth and slightly smoky it was), and a glass of tropical iced green tea with honey ($4).
The salad that got our attention was the Green Meadow Farm cherry tomato salad, niçoise olive aioli, ciabatta croutons, arugula, ricotta salata, and garden herbs ($14). The tomatoes were succulent, sweet and the larger semi-roasted tomatoes had a more poignant sweetness that the robust flavors of the briny, almost nutty niçoise olive aioli and salty ricotta salata didn’t affect it. If I had a plate of this everyday, I would be a very happy woman and don’t mind being a temporary vegetarian.
The truffle scented duck confit, crispy potato sauté, sunny side egg, greens, duck hollandaise ($20) was quite fantastic. The duck was supple yet had some crispness and had great flavor. The potatoes were nicely crisp yet creamy on the inside. The duck hollandaise and yolky sunny side egg added the needed sauce and creamy textures to bring this entire dish together.
The Butcher Shop Brunch: smoky kielbasa, country bacon, scrapple, potatoes, biscuit, and scrambled eggs ($22) was good but admittedly, a bit too hearty and rich for this kind of weather. If it were the chilly days of late autumn or winter, this would have been soul satisfying. Other than that, the scrambled egg and meats were cooked perfectly (meats were still juicy and tender) and the mini biscuits were fluffy.
My main dish of Garden Brunch: seared scallops and farro salad, market veggies, local asparagus, lemon and chive vinaigrette ($21) was both gorgeous and delicious. My dining companions loved the one I had since the vegetables are at its prime so it made the dish so good. The scallops were seared properly, nicely seasoned, and worked with the farro salad and vegetables perfectly.
We shared a side of marinated beets, almonds, orange, and ricotta ($8). We love beets so it’s a loved side dish. Sweet and earthy ruby beets with a touch of nutty crunch, subtle citrus from the orange zest and juice and the creamy ricotta for a touch of creaminess and salt.
We managed to make room for dessert and shared the Melting dark chocolate “s’mores” & smoked ice cream ($10) consisting of a warm chocolate cake filled with a melted marshmallow center and topped with charred marshmallows to mimic the idea of a gooey s’more with the graham crumbs. The smoked ice cream was absolutely divine as the smokiness kind of lend a savory character to the ice cream. (I wish I had more of that smoked ice cream…)
The “Strawberries & Cream” ($10) was definitely a summer dessert. Slices of sweet, ripe strawberries, roasted pistachios and a creamy vanilla panna cotta sitting in a pool of poured rhubarb-ginger sauce to give this dessert some tartness and spiciness. We cleaned out that bowl in minutes and it’s worth every calorie and stomach space we had.
Service was friendly, very attentive without being obstructive. The food was fantastic and the menu appeals to everyone from the vegetarian friendly to the meat eater. The space is bright, airy and comfortable. It would be wise to have a reservation so you know you’ll have a table since this place was packed.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):