It's been a while since I've blogged and I blame television for that. There are so many shows I've gotten hooked on, and some others I thought I would be but they've lost me over the past month or so. Anyway, TV isn't the point of this post so I digress.
There's a new restaurant that has opened up in my neighborhood and it's one of only two Oregon Tilth organic certified restaurants in the country. Tilth has taken over the location of my much beloved Mandalay Cafe on 45th in Wallingford and I finally had a chance to try it last Thursday. Since I heard what was moving into that space I was interested in checking it out, especially after learning Maria Hines was the owner and chef. Kristen actually got to go a week before I did and you can read what she thought of it on her blog.
I really enjoyed Tilth, the food was well executed and enjoyed the flavor profiles of the dishes. I started with the Local Comice Pear Salad and Kristen had the Full Circle Farms Baby Lettuces. I was expecting the blue cheese in my salad to be a lot stronger than it was and it played well with the arugula and walnuts. Not really paying attention to what was in Kristen's salad I was really intrigued by the light fruit of the vinaigrette. When I asked her what it was she said it was just a lemon vinaigrette and I really liked how it was executed. It was a little sweet and tart without any harsh acid. I can say that a lot of times something as simple as a vinaigrette can make or break a salad, and this one made it.
Our main entrees came out shortly after we finished our salads. Kristen was presented with Sablefish and a polenta cake while I received the seared Top Sirloin. My first impression with the top sirloin was how perfectly it was cooked. Usually when I go out to eat at a restaurant and order a steak I tend to ask for it to be rare/medium rare because if I ask for it just medium rare it'll get cooked to medium. This time, they delivered exactly what I asked for and I was very pleased. The sirloin had a good flavor that I attribute it to being grassfed. I did notice that it could be a little harder to chew if I didn't cut it across the grain of the meat. But when I did, the beef was very tender and almost buttery. This proved to be an excellent counterpount to the accompanying radicchio which provided a nice bitter note. When I took my first bite of the fingerling potatoes I really didn't want to eat anything else. I'm a sucker for potatoes and these were amazing when I had them alone. The saltiness of the seasoning and the creaminess of the potato itself was a little bit of heaven. The flavor profile of the entire dish was well done with the saltiness of the potatoes, bitterness of the radicchio, and beefiness of the sirloin all playing well off each other with no one flavor overpowering any other.
Kristen's balsamic glazed sablefish was the polar opposite of my entree. It was much lighter but just as flavorful. While my entree was a play on some bolder flavors, this dish was all about quieter ones. The mild white sablefish played host to the subtley sweet balsamic glaze while sitting atop a creamy polenta cake. Like most white fish, the sablefish was very neutral in flavor so if paired incorrectly it could easily be overpowered by the flavors in it's companions. But once again, everything played off each other and provided a complimentary and harmonious flavor profile.
After a slight miscommunication about whether or not we wanted dessert, they arrived at our table. We ordered the Mini Caramel Heirloom Apples that Kristen had been raving about since her visit as well as the Smoked Theo Chocolate Pudding. The mini caramel apples were little apples on a toothpick that you then dipped into a side of caramel. I really wished the apples were bigger because I couldn't get enough of the caramel. I tried to get as much caramel as I could on the last mini apple we had, but even then that wasn't enough. The vanilla marshmellow kept throwing me off in the pudding dish. Every time I combined a bite of the marshmallow with the pudding, all I could taste was the vanilla. The pudding itself was really good, but how could it not be seeing that it's made with Theo chocolate. In the interest of full disclosure, my friend's wife is a chocolatier at Theo but that in no way influences my assertion that Theo chocolate is damn good.
As I'm sure you could tell, the food was very well done but for some reason I was slightly underwhelmed by my experience overall. The clean white and green interior threw me off a little because I was expecting something more in line with the tilth theme. Also, our server seemed a little less polished than I would have anticipated but I can't complain because we were never left wanting and our food was also brought out when it should have been. Our server just seemed a little nervous or unsure of herself, which she shouldn't because she did a good job and suggested an excellent wine pairing.
Overall I would highly recommend Tilth. Since this was only my first time visiting I'll give them a few more tries before I pass final judgement on the atmosphere.