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Tarrant's Cafe: a stylish but reasonable neighbourhood cafe
Tarrant's occupies such a small place along West Broad Street that you have to look hard not to miss it as you go west. It's located on the borderline between the rather dodgy part of downtown to the fashionable area nearest the V.C.U. campus. Outside, it has the appearance of a friendly neighbourhood eatery. Inside, it looks like that at the bar, but the artwork on display in the dining area give you the impression of eating in an art gallery. The menu is varied from appetisers to sandwiches and wraps. Its signature entrees are seafood dishes. The portion sizes are big enough that you don't leave the place hungry and it has folks of a lesser appetite than I have reaching for the takeaway box. The service is attentive and prompt but it isn't fast food. The attention to detail the chef-owner insists upon requires a longer time, but good things come to those who wait.
Favorite Dish: My first go of Tarrant's was taking my friend Lee out for his birthday. I wanted scallops, but I wasn't keen on having them as part of a combination platter or grilled and served with risotto. Instead, I wanted them fried and served with fries (which wasn't on the menu, but I knew they had all the components). Lee had crab-stuffed tilapia garnished with capers. He wasn't very keen on capers so I inherited those. (What can I say, it's an acquired taste.) My only problems with this restaurant are lack of parking, but that vexes every restaurant downtown and it's not the owner's fault. The other is, I never have been keen on seasoned fries. I like to season the fries myself with just salt and pepper. The scallops were nice and big compared to other restaurants where you need a magnifying glass to see them. The two things that stood out as best were at the beginning and the end. The waitress opened the dining experience with garlic knots that was better than most garlic bread I've had at home and away. Because it was Lee's birthday and the owner is a client where he works, I didn't even have to ask for a dessert. They gave Lee an UPSIDE DOWN APPLE WALNUT PIE served warm with vanilla ice cream He was so full from supper, he insisted that I help him eat it. I was ambivalent because I was trying to lose weight, but after one bite of the apple pie, it was heaven on a plate. So, I'd go an extra circuit the following day. It was that dessert that bumped Tarrant's up to 5/5.
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