Mid Beach is experiencing a sort of renaissance that gets me excited and nostalgic. Reminiscent of the days when my mom used to drive my brother and I down Collins Avenue and point out the 3D painting on the side of the Fontainebleau that was grander than any 6-year-old could understand. I’d like to think Mid Beach was cooler even way before South Beach was on the global map. As so, I praise places like 27 and the cool folks over at the Edition for bringing back a piece of notoriety to a neighborhood that’s been outshone for far too long.
The culinary scene is also seeing a sort of revival. Recently, I visited Talde, which is tucked away the Thompson Hotel next to Seagrape (helmed under the reign of Michelle Bernstein.) Talde is the creation of Top Chef alumn, Dale Talde. The popular Asian-American restaurant already has two locations in the northeast (Brooklyn & Jersey City) and decided to make its third, lucky outpost, Miami.
I was invited to try out Talde on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night and immediately gravitated towards the décor. Cool, eccentric and yet inviting, the place looks like it might be a better fit for The Design District or Wynwood, but I love that it’s not. I think it’s the perfect complement to the Thompson Hotel as it helps to highlight the “hip” potential of the place as a whole and also a refreshing diversion from restaurants that sometimes try too hard when part of a hospitality establishment.
The menu is a progressive fusion of Asian and American dishes that took me out of my comfort zone, but with rave results. Although none of the dishes scream authenticity, per say, they are all consistent in offering bold, fresh flavors with generous portions and excellent execution.
To kick off our meal, we had the Bentons Bacon Dumplings with shrimp, kale and soy-chili vinegar. The dish was good but probably one of the least memorable ones. I’ll probably opt out of this when I make it back, choosing another one of the appetizers like the Kale Salad (which we’ve heard is a favorite) or perhaps the Charred Short Ribs because they just sound amazing!
From Talde’s selection of noodles, we ordered the Buddha Noodles with market vegetables and sesame dashi. It’s a smart, inviting vegetarian dish to try if you’re not exactly feeling adventurous. You won’t compromise taste or consistency, as the noodles were superb and had great flavor.
As an entrée, we went for the Lemongrass Pork Chops with peanuts, watermelon nuoc mam (dipping sauce) and as a side we chose the Brussels Sprouts with green sambal and Crab Fried Rice with tobiko and jalapeno ailio. This combination was most definitely the highlight of our dinner – not that everything else wasn’t also outstanding. However, the pork chops had a lingering taste of the lemongrass that was just enough to tempt you to devour the dish in its entirety and refresh your palate. The peanuts and watermelon make this a dish one of summer dreams – even though we enjoyed it just as much in the dead of Miami winter. The sides were also superb, in fact the Brussels sprouts were hands down my favorite dish of the night. I know, the damn 2013 dish made a full revival for me during this meal. They were just perfection, with just the right amount of green sambal (think green chili) for a nice kick in flavor. And last but not least, was the Crab Fried Rice. I think it’s hard to get fried rice wrong, but this rendition easily puts others to shame. Although not exactly authentic in its ingredients, it was executed incredibly well. All the flavors were bold but not too overpowering and the dish was so large that there was leftover rice to enjoy during lunch the next day.
Also, if I’m caught out anywhere past midnight (highly unlikely these days,) it would probably be here to grub on Talde’s late night menu. You can enjoy late night noodles from Thursday through Saturday from 12am to 4am, as well as $2 off wine, beer and wells. Noodles and tots start at $5, hip hop tunes included.
Mel’s take: I loved Talde. Everything seemed really cohesive (the menu, location, staff) there was not a moment where anything felt forced or awkwardly out of place. I honestly think it’s a small gem waiting to be discovered but I selfishly want it to stay slightly undiscovered and cool. Also, the portions are incredibly generous as is the pricing, given that most dishes can be shared. The restaurant seems like the perfect place to become a favorite among locals.
Standout dishes: I absolutely loved the Brussels Sprouts. It’s probably a jaded statement to share in 2016 but it would be the first thing I ordered if I made it back. Also, the Crab Fried Rice is one I could try to justify eating every day. Again, not the most innovative but definitely one of the most flavorful.