Talula Restaurant & Bar
Food is complex and creative without being fussy. Ingredients are largely familiar, but they're assembled in unusual ways, with some outright surprises. Take a primo starter, barbecue quail ($12). Sidle up to the shiny open kitchen and watch the little birdie get rubbed with a puree of dried cascabel chiles, garlic and charred onion and then flash-grilled to a char. It goes atop sautéed oyster mushrooms and watercress, and here's the surprise: two lush agnolotti stuffed with cascabel chile and sweet potato puree; a drizzle of maple syrup adds sweetness. The beauty here is the chile flavor (not hot, just intense) against the thick sweetness of the potato.