The first time my wife and I tried to go to Tallulah on Thames was for Valentine’s day. Unfortunately, a blizzard hit that night and while trying to make it to the restaurant, the police shut down the highway and turned us back. Not one to be deterred, I once again made a reservation for Valentine’s day and succeeded in enjoying a remarkable meal with my wife at this little restaurant in Newport, RI. (Tallulah also features amazing tacos at other locations so if you’d like to read about Tallulah’s Taqueria in Providence, RI, then click here for more information!)
Tallulah on Thames
464 Thames St.
Newport, RI 02840
Service and Atmosphere
At first glance, walking into Tallulah on Thames is like stepping into a speakeasy from the 1920’s. The dim yellow light from the antique crystal chandeliers bounces off of the embossed tin roof and walls setting the mood for the evening. The restaurant is full of small tables placed close together like an old world restaurant, but it feels cozy rather than crowded.
The brightest light comes from the half-wall open kitchen where patrons can see the chef and his team creating the plated works of art. The light from the kitchen doesn’t just illuminate the chefs, but also the hosts and wait staff, who provide fantastic service. Aside from exemplary table-side attendance, one of the best examples I can give in terms of the service quality is how the host treated us. We arrived on time for our reservation, but a table wasn’t ready for us. We didn’t complain or look irritated at all, nonetheless, after waiting for some time, the host asked us what kind of wine we enjoyed and promptly told us that she would provide us with a bottle of wine for dinner on the house. This very generous gesture to assuage any sort of inconvenience on our part really went a long way to show us that the restaurant cared about our experience.
We enjoyed the 4-course prix fixe (fixed price) dinner. The dinner is 4 courses, but there are little additions throughout the meal that make it feel like more than 4 courses. Fresh bread, soup, a sorbet palate cleanser, and a post-dessert dessert make an already impressive meal even more decadent.
Coconut and Kaffir Lime Soup – This was an extra item that came with the meal, but that wasn’t part of the four courses. This coconut and lime soup was light and channeled some Asian and Southeast-Asian flavors very nicely.
Beef Tartare – My first course choice was beef tartare. My wife chose the grilled broccoli. My dish came out looking beautiful and the raw beef tasted freshly mild mixed with the other ingredients. There were also oysters on the dish prepared in a crunchy way I had never had before, but still very enjoyable. Despite the beef tartare starting off the meal on a high note, I dare say that my wife’s broccoli dish was even better. There was just something about the perfect char on the broccoli and the miso tahini sauce that just made it unbelievable.
Grilled Octopus – I really enjoy octopus made properly and a sign of a good restaurant is one that can pull off octopus. Luckily, Tallulah’s is one of those restaurants. The octopus was lightly charred on the outside and tender all the way through. The bacon and white bean puree added dimension to the dish without taking away from it.
Prime Beef Rib-Eye – As the third course and main entree, I ordered the rib eye steak and wasn’t disappointed. A modest portion of steak is pre-sliced and perfectly cooked along with seared potato, salsify, scallion, and a small, buttery piece of fois gras. Normally, I frown strongly upon pre-slicing a steak, however, the preparation at Tallulah’s actually lent itself quite well to this technique. The steak remained a perfect medium-rare throughout and the last bite was as good as the first.
Chocolate Cremeux – My last main course finished with a bang with this chocolate cremeux (like a dense chocolate mousse) that came with bits of flourless chocolate cake, tiny cinnamon meringues, and chipotle ice cream. Everything about this dish was excellent, but what really blew my mind was the chipotle ice cream. It starts as a cool vanilla or cream flavor that quickly changes to a light smokiness that finishes with a spicy kick. You wouldn’t think it should work, but it does and it works phenomenally well with the chocolate.
Post-dessert Dessert – The last taste from the restaurant featured a chocolate truffle and a Mexican wedding cookie. The truffle was well executed and chocolate-y, but the Mexican wedding cookie outshined it. The perfectly baked nutty cookie coated with the powdered sugar provided a sweet, but somehow still light finish to the evening.
My wife and I enjoyed Tallulah On Thames so much from the service to the last bite of food that I would easily recommend it to anyone. Reservations are a must. It may not be an everyday visit type of restaurant, but for those looking for a special meal, Tallulah on Thames is sure to deliver on quality and experience.