“Delicious wine, intoxicating food” is the self-proclaimed motto of Tannin in Okemos. They specialize in what they call contemporary and creative Italian cuisine and offer an unpretentious wine philosophy that is “it is all just juice.” This sounds like a solid invitation to do some culinary damage.
Walking in, Tannin has a warm but restrained atmosphere. I can’t say the same thing about the food. The food is loud, proud and gorgeous. Sitting at the bar, Editor Emily and I had a dozy of a meal that hit so many notes on my palate that I felt like I needed to gargle sorbet. This is not to say Tannin does not have a cohesive menu, it just means that their creativity and our ordering style had us hitting all taste buds at full speed.
In terms of cohesiveness, if you take bacon seriously, you have found a soul mate. Tannin’s website has a link dedicated to the Mangalista pig. It was a component found in many offerings and earns its honors. Also, almost everything at Tannin is made from scratch, including all the pastas. One of their signature dishes is the Rabbit Sugo with arugula, gnocchi, caramelized onion and mascarpone. Seared Duck comes with goat cheese potatoes, an 18-year balsamic reduction, forest mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. The menu is rounded out by many lovely beef dishes, vegetarian options and all types of seafood and pasta specialties.
As always, Emily and I shared everything. We started with two salads. The first was the Honey Crisp. Composed of Brussels sprouts, bacon, a turnip-apple salad, pumpkin puree and smoked cider vinaigrette, it was bright and satisfying. The rich bacon with the acidic turnips and apples were the perfect play on your taste buds. The other salad was so good I can’t even remember everything it had on it. This “intoxicating food” thing was no joke. I remember beef and artichokes and cheese. Lord help me, I practically just put my face in it and inhaled.
As we shifted to the main course, I went on our server’s recommendation, the Meatballs Bolognese. This homemade pasta had pork meatballs and a smoked tomato Bolognese sauce that was augmented with Serrano peppers, goat cheese and a sun-dried tomato Bucatini. I swear, I don’t know if it was because it was snowing outside or I had spent too much time with family over the holidays, but this plate of food was everything my soul needed. The dish was rich and complex and creamy and sweet and robust and … sigh. I want more.
Now Emily is sitting next to me tucking into a skirt steak with a citrus-based thing going on complete with avocado and polenta. She is blabbing about how amazing it is so of course I push her out of the way and help myself. My palate almost imploded. Talk about a shift in flavors. Again, where my pasta was deep and rich, her’s was bright and fresh and clean with the creaminess of the avocado and a wallop of super tender, flavorful steak. Dang, Tannin was hitting it from every angle.
Obviously, with everything going so well, Emily and I had to have dessert. I stated earlier that Tannin’s food was loud and proud, and I have to say our dessert was the epitome of this claim. A chocolate cake topped with basil and grapefruit and some kind of fancy cream stuff (you will have to forgive me, my description is lacking due to the food intoxication I am at this point suffering immensely from). Wow. Talk about a pop of power. I am not sure I will ever look at dessert the same. Chocolate Lava Cake? That’s all you got? Sheeshh. Amateur.
“Delicious wine, intoxicating food” is right. I can tell you one thing; you will never hear me complain to a Tannin manager that I was “over served.”
Tannin is at 5100 March Road, Okemos.