For my first dining experience in Arlington, I went to Tallula with my parents on my birthday (for the first of two birthday dinners). I drive by the place practically every day and it has always looked like the neighborhood restaurant that you always want in your back pocket in case you need to pick a place to eat in a pinch. Tallula is run by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (ironic! I know!) which has a collection of acclaimed restaurants in Northern Virginia.
We tried the filet with polenta, mushrooms and a poached egg; the tile fish with mushrooms and blood orange vinagrette; and the ramp crusted cobia. The filet was cooked exactly as asked but should have sparked with more flavor and while the mushrooms and poached egg made up for some of what was lacking in the beef, it wasn't enough to say this dish stood out from a million other filets. The tilefish was cooked delicately but while the idea of blood oranges paired with it was exciting, it simply overwhelmed the delicate fish. The flavors were more of a competition rather than a harmony. The same could be said of the cobia and the fennel. While both ingredients by themselves were wonderful, put them together and it was just slightly off.
Desserts made the meal come back just slightly with a very good strawberry waffle shortcake which was creative but nothing extraordinary as could be said for the chocolate souffle which hit all the right spots but doesn't chocolate always do that? The wine list was fantastic and we managed to find a wine from a small vineyard in France that we had actually visited and were very pleased that it had made it's way so far into the United States.