When I first heard that Dale Talde, of Top Chef fame, was opening his own Asian-American restaurant in Park Slope called Talde, my interest was piqued. Though Dale was most recently a chef at Buddakan in the Meatpacking District – not exactly the most interesting or exciting restaurant of all time – the food he cooked on Top Chef always looked delicious – aggressively seasoned, creative and sophisticated. So with that in mind, I grabbed four friends, hopped on the R train and sat down to feast at Talde.
From the moment we walked in, I knew I would like the place. We were greeted warmly by the host and the bartender, even as we were told of a 45 minute wait. The restaurant is festively decorated in a distinctly Chinese style, enhancing the already lively atmosphere. We started with the Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings ($8), five delightfully crispy and juicy potstickers. Then came the Market Vegetable Hawaiian Bread Bun ($11), not dissimilar to the famous Momofuku Pork Bun, except Talde’s version was porcine-free. No worries though, it was nearly as good. Perfectly grilled Portabella mushrooms were accompanied by an awesome tangy mayo and other crunchy vegetables, making for perfectly harmonious bites.
Photo Credits: Nate Adler
The Lobster Coconut Soup ($12), a special that night, was a comforting bowl of sweet and spicy Thai-flavored broth with a generous amount of succulent lobster distributed throughout. The Heirloom Squash & Silken Tofu Salad ($10) was crisp and refreshing, if not memorable. Then came the entrees; the Oyster and Bacon Pad Thai ($15) was the best version of the too-often mediocre dish I’ve ever had. The fried oysters were perfectly crispy and briny, while the house-made bacon elevated the noodles to another level. I could have eaten this dish all night.
Dale’s version of Korean Fried Chicken ($23), served atop a yogurt sauce, was also terrific. Crunchy on the outside, impressively moist on the inside – just the way fried chicken was meant to be. The Whole Market Fish ($25) – Branzino on the night I visited – was a textbook example of how a whole fish dish should be served. Wrapped snuggly in banana leaves, the fish was easy to pull away from the skin and infused throughout with a beautifully balanced sweet and spicy sauce (you’ll notice that theme throughout all of Talde’s dishes). The only disappointing dish of the night was the BBQ Smoked Pork Shoulder. It didn’t taste bad, but the flavor was a bit one-note, and the meat could have been tenderer.
I should note here that we ate at Talde just three weeks after it opened. Considering the amount of work and fine-tuning a restaurant with such high expectations requires before it finds its proper footing, I was truly blown-away by my experience. Everything you look for in a restaurant – food, décor, service and value – was impressive. I suggest getting to Talde quickly – before you know it, it will be impossible to get a table.