“Farm to table” is the simple approach that Tally’s Silver Spoon and Delmonico Grill owner and chef Benjamin Klinkel uses when building his menus around seasonal produce.
Klinkel gets his local produce primarily from Battle Creek Gardens, located 6 miles outside of Hermosa. Battle Creek Gardens is affiliated with Black Hills Health and Wellness Center, an onsite holistic treatment center that “feeds patients from their garden.”
He speaks to the personnel at Battle Creek Gardens twice a week to get an idea of the fresh produce that is available, decides how he will fit it into his menu and gets deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This time of the year, he is creating recipes from 25 varieties of greens, along with heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli spigarello, turnips, radishes, carrots and various herbs.
“I can’t print a new menu every week, so I like to feature one vegetable and experiment with different ways of cooking it,” Klinkel said. “I never run out of ideas.”
Although Klinkel said it is difficult to cook only with seasonal produce, he tries to include it as much as possible in his appetizers, salads, main dishes and even desserts, including his famous homemade ice cream.
“I treat ice cream like soup,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to creatively use up some of my best seasonal produce.”
He offers an ice cream made of toasted marshmallows and beets on his dessert menu, and recently featured Chopped Ice Cream, reminiscent of the Food Network show “Chopped,” in which chefs are given a box of seemingly unrelated ingredients and asked to create a dish using them.
Klinkel’s Chopped Ice Cream contained black licorice, a buttermilk-vanilla ice cream base and chocolate-covered Cheetos.
“It was to die for, and everyone loved it,” he said.
Besides fresh garden produce, Klinkel also tries to include regionally produced meat in his menu.
He buys grass-fed buffalo from Wild Idea Buffalo Company in Rapid City. A specialty-foods broker at Prairie Harvest in Spearfish helps him secure the best meats, including grass-fed lamb from an Idaho farm that is the same as that served at the James Beard House in New York.
Although Klinkel loves to put innovative dishes on his menu and wow his customers, when he and his grandfather bought the longtime downtown Rapid City restaurant in 2009, his aim was not to turn Tally’s into something totally new and unrecognizable to regular customers.
“We wanted to pay respect to the people and business owners that have been coming to Tally’s for decades, but at the same time we need to grow it into something more, more like what it is now,” he said.
Klinkel’s first restaurant experience was as an 8-year-old dishwasher at his grandparents’ restaurant, The Shamrock, in Pluma.
He received his culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu in Portland and apprenticed with some of the world’s finest chefs in Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland and Africa.
Because his family lives in the area, he eventually moved back to Rapid City.
After working at various Rapid City restaurants for about five years, the “perfect location” opened up and he and his grandfather purchased Tally’s in 2009.
Now called Tally’s Silver Spoon, the hybrid restaurant that Klinkel has created combines some of the old Tally’s favorites with an inventive new evening menu that has included dishes such as Oak Smoked Pheasant and Blueberry Cinnamon Bison.
“Breakfast and lunch were essentially a turnkey operation, and you’ll still find pancakes, hash browns and French dip sandwiches on the left side of the menu,” Klinkel said.
“But the right side features composed dishes that are all about balance and contrast, with textures and flavors that are meant to go together. Very presentation-oriented.”
As is common in the restaurant business, Klinkel has lost some of the old Tally’s customers, but kept some, too, and has almost quadrupled the business in the time he has had it, thanks to a new decor, live music and new dishes that mix in with some of the old standbys.
A realist, Klinkel said he knows he would never have been able to completely abandon the old Tally’s menu.
“Cooking with local ingredients is what I learned to do in Europe, and what I enjoy,” he said. “But we still have the old things, too, like diner food and chicken-fried steak. That’s what built this place.”
Posted on 08/07/2015 at 04:10:00 AM