Despite the fact that it doesn’t feel like fall, we can still get a little taste of it from our restaurants around town. As they begin to switch their menus from summer pickings to the fresh fall bounty they are locally getting. T. Cooks at the Royal Palms Resort has not only rediscovered its Mediterranean roots since Executive Chef Todd Allison took helm of the kitchen just over a year ago, but this fall, the menu dives deeper into the region’s traditional cooking methods and artful preparations.
“This season, I’ve completely left my comfort zone. The past year has been all about reinvigorating T. Cook’s. Now, it’s about seeing what age-old methods I can unearth and experiment with, and how I can keep our guests excited every time they join us,” said Allison. “For me, it’s about being authentic, not trendy. Everything on the fall menu is brand-new and right now I’m exploring Portugal; I look forward to changes or additions to the menu as I become inspired.”
Most of the restaurant’s ingredients like cheeses, proteins and olive oil are sourced from Spain, France and Northern Italy. Locally grown and sustainably raised foods are used whenever possible from local farmers including McClendon’s Select, Singh Farms, Abby Lee Farms and Hayden Flour Mill.
Even though the evening was a little bit warmer than we would like, the patio beckoned us with its sparkling lights. It wasn’t hard for us to decide what to eat after looking at the menu. Featured on the “Tapas from the Fireplace” section of the menu are the Roasted Spanish Octopus with piquillo pepper, haricot vert, Kalamata olive, lemon aioli and black garlic and the Gambas Ajillo with garlic roasted prawns, cannellini bean puree and picholine olive tapenade. We went for the Lamb Osso Bucco with ricotta gnocchi, perfect for sharing but so good, you’ll want the whole portion to yourself. We also had the scallops, which were seared to perfection and a classic that we always order, the mussels.
For our entrees, how could I resist that grilled venison loin, the meat was so tender, the best I’ve had in a long time, no jokes and it was paired with roasted Sonoma apples, a parsnip puree, brussel sprouts and a 25-year old balsamic gastrique. I highly suggest you order this, I just can’t rave about it enough! My guest ordered the pan-roasted branzino with shishito peppers, stewed tomato, fingerling potatoes and Kalamata olive aioli. Sure it was great too but I’m sorry, I feel like nothing could compete with my venison.
I’m not one to balk at dessert and if you offer me three, I’ll be happy to try all of them. I think my favorite was the brownie, if you can call it that. It was a large portion of chocolate decadence drizzled in warm chocolate sauce, caramel and topped with ice cream and perched on the brownie is a waffle cone. My other favorite was the bread pudding, it was simply out of this world good. I say order both because there’s no need to choose between the two. I can say in good faith that both tasted just as good for leftovers the next day!