After being closed for a little under a year, Tannin became another love-to-see-it comeback story when it reopened in December. The eastside spot for pasta and wine, I celebrated its return last week with a romantic friend date. We sat at the bar, sipped wine, ate a tasty meal and caught up, and I felt (in my own townie way) almost cosmopolitan doing all this within walking distance of my house — like a Lansing version of “Sex and the City.” Yes, I probably need to get out more.
But I digress. Tannin’s menu offers a variety of Italian-inspired appetizers and main courses as well as an option I wish would take hold in other restaurants: half portions of entrées for extremely reasonable prices. Yes, leftovers are great, but as a (cheap) person who will keep picking at a plate until it’s removed from my line of vision, I love paying less for the exact amount I want and need to eat. In addition to the delicious complimentary bread, that is precisely what my order of chicken Parmesan amounted to. My companion is a bird-like eater, so the half portion was a no-brainer for her as well. If we hadn’t ordered wine, our bill would have been under $25 before the tip.
Something I always want to order but never do, this dish was highly satisfying. The marinara sauce was bright and fresh tasting, not the heavy, homogenous sauce one might expect, and the penne was nicely cooked. Both reached their full potential, though, when accompanied by the perfectly seasoned chicken breast, which was hammered out to a thinness that, when breaded and fried, resulted in a delicious, crispy-yet-juicy bite. I especially appreciated the quality of the Parmesan melted atop, along with a sprinkling of fresh basil.
Our server was very knowledgeable and helpful regarding the extensive wine list, and this, coupled with the very apparent quality of the ingredients and the generosity of the price-to-portion ratio, gave a sense of being well cared for that is an oft-forgotten but very endearing aspect of dining out. Maybe it was because I was ensconced in my own neighborhood, but I would call the experience almost cozy, which is saying something for a restaurant housed in what was once a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
I should add that my dietetically demure date ended up forfeiting her leftovers to me, so I can confirm that the fettuccine alfredo is also quite good, even when eaten cold for breakfast the following day. Just like on “Sex and the City.”
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