When it comes to special people in my life, it mostly boils down to Mom and Dad. The few friends I have are really their friends, and I’ve weaseled my way into the relationships over the years. There isn’t much more when it comes to family. All of my grandparents are gone and the only aunt I’m close to lives out of town. She doesn’t visit as much as either of us would like, I imagine, and travelling is too high on my fear list right now to head to her city. But recently, Mom, Dad, and I reconnected with my cousin, Kim, and her daughters, Jillian and Katelyn. Perhaps the most unlikely of friendships, I’ve enjoyed following them on Twitter and chatting with them there on occasion. It has made me feel more connected than I have in over a decade. Kim and Jillian joined us on our latest restaurant adventure a couple weeks ago; Katelyn unfortunately had to work.
We headed to Tallulah Wine Bar in downtown Birmingham, a place I’d heard many good things about and wanted to visit for quite some time now. We finally got around to it. The outside of the restaurant is beautiful with the patio open for the summer and flower planters surrounding it. I couldn’t wait to go inside, where the décor did not disappoint. The restaurant was bright white with white table cloths and wood chairs. The sun shined through the front windows. Though quite tiny, I was just really happy to be there. It also smelled amazing inside, always a good sign when walking into a new restaurant.
Our server, Brandon, was well informed about the menu, friendly, and prompt. He was a great server. Everyone in the restaurant was friendly.
Mom ordered the Sanguinello Blood Orange cocktail, which I tasted, and both of us really enjoyed. It had a fresh flavor and really did taste like blood orange. One of the better cocktails in recent memory.
The bread brought to the table was excellent. It seemed like some kind of Italian bread with a crusty exterior and a soft white interior. My only problem: they didn’t bring enough to the table. Dad and I had to share one since there were five of us and only four pieces. I didn’t mind as I try not to eat too much of the bread, but it was strange. The appetizers were huge hits. Dad ordered the Detroit Wagyu Sliders, which he really enjoyed. Jillian ordered the meatballs, huge hits with Jillian and Kim, while Dad didn’t love one of the herbs or spices in the sauce, but thought the meatball itself was pretty great. The presentation was so cute, too, and like all the food was so hot it was steaming. Mom and I shared the lobster roll slider. Amazing. The lobster meat was tender and dressed in a celery aioli, and while celery isn’t my favorite flavor, it was great, but it was the bun that I will be thinking about for the rest of my life. White, warm, toasted, buttery; it was simply perfection. But it was house made, so that makes sense. Kim ordered the BLT salad. The bacon on it was really thick, and also quite fatty and not very crispy. After sending it back once and it still wasn’t crispy, she decided just to take it home where perhaps she could crisp it up more. She loved the rest of the salad, cleaning her plate.
Moving on to entrees, Mom, Dad, and Kim all had the Steak Frites: a Kobe bistro filet with French fries and a small green salad. I also ordered fries, and we all really enjoyed them. They weren’t the best I’ve had, but they came quite close, as they were not too thick, not too thin, crunchy, and very hot. Can’t complain about a fry with those attributes. The steaks, however, were pretty chewy. They were not the traditional shape one would expect when ordering a filet. The chewiness and flavor was not what one would expect either; the lack of fat and marbling certainly not indicative of a Kobe steak of any kind. The steak was really the only disappointment of the entire meal. Jillian ordered the Ricotta Stuffed Agnolotti, which she enjoyed. And I ordered the Lake Trout special. I wasn’t sure what to order, but went with this because I liked everything it came with, something I’m pretty sure has never happened in a restaurant. I’m always the girl saying “sauce on the side,” or “could you substitute this with that.” It appealed to me to eat a dish in its entirety as the chef intended. It was pan roasted lake trout with a stone fruit and greens salad with hazelnuts, dressed with lime juice, with a cherry coolie on the plate. It was fantastic, possibly the best entrée I’ve ever had in a restaurant. The fish was cooked perfectly, and the flavor of the plums and peaches matched amazingly with it and the crunch of the hazelnuts. I would eat this every day if I could.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have room for dessert. Jillian ordered the hot chocolate cake, which took a really long time to prepare (perhaps that should be ordered at the time the meal is like in other restaurants?), but looked amazing. She enjoyed it but wasn’t a fan of the mint ice cream it was served with. I couldn’t taste it since it had been contaminated by chocolate but was curious what it tasted like. Mom and I ordered the Lemon Olive Oil Cake and the Peach Rosemary Crostada, the pie of the day. The cake was served in this adorable cast iron skillet and had plums baked in it. I thought the cake was good, but Mom loved it. The crème fraiche ice cream and dulce de leche served with it? Now those were great! But it was the crostada that impressed me the most and left me wanting to order another one. An individual little crostada just for me, the crust was thick, flaky, and amazing, and the vanilla ice cream on top was a bonus. The peaches inside were tender and juicy. Caramel sauce on the plate brought everything together. The rosemary flavor was only present in a couple of bites, a welcome surprise when I tasted it. It was there in the perfect amount, as more may have been overpowering. It was the perfect ending to a pretty great meal, with all of us saying we’d happily return.
Whether you head out with family or friends, someone you see all the time or a new connection, go out and try a new restaurant to have fun with whoever accompanies you. If you live in the metro Detroit area, give Tallulah Wine Bar a try; I think you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.