I wasn't very excited when I first heard about TQLA. The restaurant website's graphics suggested it was trying too hard to be cool (something about that flaming saucepan), and its soundtrack gave me a headache.
I do love tequila, however, and couldn't help but be impressed when I heard TQLA offered 170-odd varieties. And I was further enticed by Katharine Shilcutt's "Sneak Peek" food porn, especially the slide of a blood orange margarita. So, I gave in and visited on a Monday night with a college pal and fellow "Ta-Kill-Ya" lover.
One thing I love about going out to eat on a Monday is that waitstaff are usually more relaxed, often bored due to the slower traffic. Our waiter Richard devoted a good ten minutes to sharing the details of various drinks and entrees. On his recommendation, I did end up ordering the Blood Orange Margarita, which was, as he claimed, strong and wonderfully fruity.
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My recent bivalve fixation compelled me to order the fried oysters. TQLA's version blew those offered by Branchwater Tavern and BRC Gastropub out of the water (pun intended). Six medium oysters coated in blue corn crumbs arrived arranged in a circle and resting in a lake of chorizo-cilantro cream. The substantial corn coating provided the slippery oysters with some extra body and an earthy flavor, while the rich, slightly spicy cream sauce complemented the heartier, rougher texture of the batter. I finished my portion in between sips of a second margarita and mopped up the rest of the cream sauce with the gratis tortilla chips.
For the record, my pork tenderloin entrée was also very enjoyable, though I couldn't help but wish I could cover the thin slices of meat with a full ladle of that delightful cream sauce.
After a few drinks and probably too many chips at TQLA, I briefly contemplated making a belated New Year's Resolution to try all of their 170 tequilas. Unfortunately, that wouldn't fit with my original New Year's Resolution to drink less.