DIRT: A Modern Market
4 weeks ago
We’re back! After weeks of crazy schedules and much traveling, we finally returned home and decided to hit the restaurant scene starting with Teller’s—a venue I’ve heard frequently mentioned and one that a reader suggested for dining al fresco. Tellers, as the name might suggest, is located inside an old bank. The front of the building has tall columns that shout “Fort Knox,” but once inside the only part of the bank that is left is the thick, steel door to “The Vault”—now a private dining area that can be reserved for special functions and large groups.
We sat upstairs on the second floor overlooking the bar, which has two large televisions easily visible from almost anywhere inside the restaurant. We had hoped to eat out on the patio, but the evening air proved a little too chilly for us, and it didn’t look like they had the heaters turned on. Down on the first floor is an expansive bar area with several large bar-height tables that can be used for drinks during happy hour or meals just as well. While we didn’t get to enjoy the patio, we poked our heads out there to take a look. The patio has about a dozen large tables with big umbrellas and a separate bar. There was a pretty decent crowd for a Thursday night, but you could easily get a server or bartender’s attention. The only problem we saw is that it looks like smoking is allowed on the patio. Even though we were technically inside the restaurant, with the doors to the patio wide open, cigarette smoke wafted into the restaurant once or twice during our meal. So, if you’re extremely smoke sensitive, make sure you stay away from tables near the patio.
When we arrived at Teller’s, we were already starving, so we spent all of 30 seconds deciding that we desperately needed an appetizer. We debated whether they give each table complementary bread (they don’t), and then settled on Hummus for our starter. I’ll let my date go into more details, but the hummus was terrific by all accounts (get it...accounts...in the bank...at Teller’s? Sorry, had to.).
Dish number two was the Raspberry Goat Cheese Salad. It’s hard to make a salad really, really exciting. This salad was certainly tasty, but what impressed me the most was the presentation. We had told our server that we wanted to split the salad; usually that means we get one salad with two extra plates. Instead, Teller’s kitchen staff served us the salad pre-split on two plates. Now this might not excite you very much, but when I tell you that each plate was easily a big enough salad to compete with a single portion at most restaurants you might see why I was impressed. In other words, their salads are large and splitting one is the way to go if you can.
Dish number three is where it’s all at—the entree. We ordered a Black Bean and Maize Orzo, and wow, what a dish. For those not familiar, orzo is the tiny pasta shapes that look like supersized rice. The dish had a tomato sauce base and enough spices to give you just a little kick that lasts throughout the rest of the meal. Again, we split the dish, and again, we each had plenty of food to eat. The orzo was cooked perfectly and along with the beans and other vegetables inside, it was filling, satisfying, and extremely tasty.
Sad to say, we didn’t have enough room left for dessert (which by now you know disappointed us greatly), but we’ll just have to go back for more!
I was excited to go back to Teller’s. I had been there a couple of times in the past, but, sadly, that was way before we had started sharing our restaurant experiences. Everything I had eaten there in the past I remember as being good, but somehow it was even better this time than I remembered! The name comes from the building’s original use: if you examine the outside of the building, it was formerly the home of the Hyde Park Savings Bank. Upstairs there are more tables and a great patio. The patio is not huge, but there are both tables and a separate bar from the one inside—complete with its own big screen TV.
Both of us walked in starving for a late-ish dinner on a Thursday night. The restaurant was not full by any means (although I have seen it packed on the weekends), but there were certainly many other people there when we arrived. We picked an appetizer almost at random, hoping we could make it to the main meal without eating our napkins. We chose the white bean hummus with zaatar-dusted pita bread, and wow. I recently lived for almost a year in the Middle East, where pita and hummus began, and they’ve got nothing on Teller’s! The white bean hummus had just a little bit of kick, but not too much. There were a few olives on top, and for those who like olives, they were great on top of a few bites. Our biggest complaint, of course, is that there was hummus left in the bowl when we finished our pita! I suggest asking for extra pita :-)
We then shared a salad, the Raspberry Goat Cheese salad, which had warm, hazelnut crusted goat cheese on top of a salad with tomatoes, squash, and zucchini with a raspberry vinaigrette. I’m the first to admit that I’m picky about vegetables, and zucchini is near the top of my disliked-veggie list. I was all ready to pick it off, but then we discovered that there wasn’t enough to be worth picking it off, even for me! The salad was mainly lettuce, with a few shreds of squash and zucchini on top (think shredded carrot shaped, but slightly thicker and longer), and a sprinkling of little tomato pieces. There was plenty of cheese. I thought the salad was delicious, but I did not think it was worth their listing the veggies for the little bits that were included. The wafer that came with it was fairly non-notable. Also, we were still really excited about the hummus, so almost anything that followed it was not going to be quite as good.
The main dish, Black Bean and Maize Orzo, was a little spicy for me, but it was good. See my left for details! All in all, we had a fantastic meal. We were both ravenous when we walked in, but quite stuffed, and very happy, by the time we left.