The venue I had in mind for our dinner date is called Talde, named for the Top Chef contestant who runs the kitchen, Chef Dale Talde. The food possesses a wonderful balance of Asian and American cuisines and playfulness. I asked a local friend for suggestions for dinner, and Talde was the first place she thought of, without me mentioning it first! I knew Alisa and I would be in good hands.
Upon entering Talde, you will immediately notice that the restaurant is small, probably about 25 tables or so. I was told that going to dinner on a Wednesday night in the summer probably would not warrant a wait, but even if that had been the case, there was a beautiful bar at our disposal with ornate Asian-inspired mahogany wood carvings that would have made the delay more than bearable.
Also, the hostess will offer seating at the Chef's Counter, which allows diners to have a bird's eye view of the food being made. We weren't given this option because the counter was already packed, but I definitely want to try it at some point.
We were seated at a small table lining the window. Because the venue is so small, everyone dines in very close proximity to one another, but it adds character to the environment, and I thought it was fun. We had fellow diners asking us what we had ordered, and we did the same. However, if it really bothers you to have other people's conversations as white noise, this may not be the best dinner venue for you.
I started with a glass of white wine, naturally.
The server suggested the Ermita de Nieve, Verdejo, which was great. It was both dry and aromatic, and very refreshing.
All dishes are served "family style," which means that the dishes come out as soon as they are prepared, rather than waiting for everything to be presented at once, and everybody shares, both of which are concepts that I love.
We began our little feast with an appetizer that came highly recommended: Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings.
Next, our order of Crispy Oyster & Bacon Pad Thai. Arrived at our table. Mind blowingly delicious. I commend whoever produced this epiphany. Salty, sweet, and packed with my favorite herbs, this was a winner that I would definitely order again.
Heaven, thy name is Korean Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi sauce, peaches, and mint. The clouds parted, and this bad bird was brought to our table. The kimchi sauce had just the right level of spice, and the tenderness of the peaches were a nice contrast with the crispiness of the chicken. Finger-licking good...
..as is personified by Alisa's expression of bliss.
Last, but certainly not least, by any stretch of the imagination: Halo Halo
Perhaps one of the most fun dishes I've ever had the pleasure of eating, Halo Halo, meaning "mix mix" in the Philippines, is a shaved ice dessert containing mango, litchi, assorted berries, coconut, banana, and Cap'n Crunch. Yes, you read right. With a surprise in every bite, we ate this until we were literally scraping our spoons on the bottom of the bowl.
We left extremely satisfied, perfectly (if not overly) full, and raving about our experience. I would certainly recommend making a stop if you're in the neighborhood, or even if you are not. My friend that I consulted before I had chosen a dinner location said that if she moved into Manhattan, Talde is one of the few restaurants in Brooklyn for which she would make the 30 minute subway ride for dinner.