Tarrant’s Cafe, Or Is It?


Words and Photos by Azam Malik
 

Who would have thought it? That a place such as Tarrant’s would describe itself as a café? For it is, my friend, much, much more.

Located at the corner of Foushee and West Broad Street, Tarrant’s serves the most delectable of upscale cuisine as well as an expansive selection of café favorites such as pizza, sandwiches, and wraps. In fact, Tarrant’s also delivers.

So, with such a mixed bag of food selections from which to choose, what exactly was it about Tarrant’s that would wow someone so? Well, to put it simply, the fact that they manage to do all that they encompass so very well is their draw.

Tarrant's Cafe is a 14-minute walk from campus.

First off, the atmosphere within the restaurant manages to merge the camaraderie one only sees at bars with all the hallmarks of the best cafes and eateries. Though it can come off as a little dark, the interior is much larger than a quick look from outside would portray. With the level of volumes within capable of building themselves to high heights, the fact that one has to scoot in a little bit closer, lean in a little bit more does lend itself to making meals a little more intimate.

Now that’s all good and well, but what about the food? Through the progression of a three course meal shared, I believe I do have some idea of what to make of it.

We started with a plate of calamari served alongside marinara sauce. Now I, not being a fan of seafood, always carry some trepidation when ordering anything that never walked on land. However, the calamari was fried to perfection. The breading carried just the right amount of flavor and was not, I repeat, was not drenched in oil. The pairing of the marinara sauce, unusual in my short dealings with our marine brethren, proved to be delicious.

In the 1800s, Tarrant's was a family owned drug store.

Moving on to the main courses, I ordered the Chicken Marsala with a side of Lentil Soup while my companion ordered Tarrant’s take on the Surf and Turf with a side salad. The soup I received was rather enjoyable, with the mint yogurt sauce that accompanied it the best complement to the turmeric and pepper in the lentils. My Chicken Marsala on the other hand, was the only spot of disappointment in the night. While the vegetables, rice, and chicken were quite good, the dish was let down by an odd lack of flavor within the sauce. It should be noted that a quick dash of pepper did remedy the ordeal somewhat. The Surf and Turf of my companion consisted of beef tenderloin with marsala sauce, the choice of either a crab cake or jumbo shrimp (my companion chose the crab cake), and mashed potatoes. The meal was reported to be excellent, with the tenderloin especially noted. The crab cake was matched wonderfully by the restaurant’s very own tartar sauce and the mashed potatoes were delightfully light.

The highlight of the night was the desert. Between us we ordered the flourless Chocolate Nemesis Cake to accompany the post dinner coffee and tea. Tactfully topped with a sliced strawberry, the cake was exceptional in its decadence. The chocolate was rich without becoming overwhelming, while the whipped cream only served to highlight just how wonderful the cake was, as it could have done without and been just as good. Dinner was, as a whole, lovely.

Tarrant’s is a wonderful place to do almost just about anything you could want to do with a meal. From sandwiches to pizza to crabmeat stuffed Tilapia, this little corner café has everything.

For more information visit their website

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