april 26th was my husband's birthday (fox is his middle name for those who don't know), and when we celebrate birthdays, we usually choose a new or favorite local restaurant. after all, it was at a restaurant where we first met...on a blind date...so it only seems fitting that we celebrate all of life's milestones with food :).
our usual go-tos are terra and motor supply company (both EXCELLENT), but this year we decided to try a newer to the local scene restaurant, tallulah.
the dinner was actually a wine pairing dinner, and since we both love wine, we decided to try something new! we were already familiar with the distributor, aleph wines, and the sommelier, Jean Pierre Chambas, from a previous wine event in lake city, sc, so we made reservations.
the room and table was beautifully decorated. all five, stemmed glasses were perfectly arranged, ready to be filled with some of the most delicious wines aleph has to offer.
we were greeted with a group of smiling faces and a sweet sparking wine cocktail that was mixed with purple basil simple syrup and lemon juice, and topped with a sweet basil leaf.
this birthday dinner was a little different for us because it was a group dinner. if you aren't familiar with group-style dinners, get to be. not only are they a lot of fun, but you meet some really great people.
amongst the night's guests were a french couple, the owners of local quail farm, manchester farms, one of aleph's representatives, and a lady named bubbles. Well, there was actually bubbles and her friend, but i can't remember the other's name. bubbles was enough to keep us intrigued :),
the menu was more of a tapas style (sadly i didn't get a picture of it) with dishes ranging from scallops and oysters to lamb and ravioli. each perfectly paired with wines from all over the world that complimented the flavors best.
group dinners can be a little awkward at first, but when there is alcohol involved, it doesn't take long before you're chatting like old friends. with group dinners, the table topics are always varied and interesting, you never leave less educated than when you sat down, and sometimes you even meet new friends!
even if the meal itself isn't fabulous, usually the company is.
the other thing about this dinner was that it had a preset menu.
preset menus can also be interesting. because you have to be willing to "roll with the punches" when it comes to what they put in front of you. of course, if you are highly allergic to something, it's best to ask the waiter for a substitute or better yet, to skip that dish all together. but the best thing i've found about preset menus is that you learn to like something different each time. or sometimes you just try something you've not tried before. either way, it's a fantastic opportunity to expand your pallet and learn how different, or not so different, flavors marry together. the fox and i have gotten a lot of cooking inspiration from dinners like these.
the meal ended with a coffee liqueur paired with a savory dessert, and our bellies full.
all in all, the dinner was a good choice. like i said, it wasn't our typical birthday celebration choice, but we were pleased with the result.
if you get a chance, check out tallula. Or if you aren't in the columbia area, find a local restaurant that does preset menu dinners and try one one. If it turns out the food is horrible, you can always grab some fast food on the way home :).