190321TRUKT

Nikki Bolka, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant team The Four Dishes, ordered this chocolate ice cream taco during a recent visit to truk’t in Beloit.

BELOIT

With the food truck craze in full swing, diners can now enjoy specialty street tacos and more at one of Beloit’s newest restaurants, truk’t.

I have been savoring the idea of sitting at truk’t with the doors rolled up and the breeze and street scene enhancing the dining experience. But I just couldn’t wait for the end of this winter. We all needed a treat, so we headed down for lunch on a Saturday.

A wide-open area, truk’t’s dining room and bar share the same space. Tons of natural light pours in through the garage-style doors that encompass two full sides of the restaurant. Wallpapered walls are adorned with vintage black and white photographs, and exposed ductwork and brick (a hugely popular design element these days) and exquisite hanging chandeliers lend truk’t both a vintage and industrial feel.

The enormous bar features a wonderful selection of tequila and mezcal, so I sampled an “Ain’t Easy Being Verde” ($12). The mezcal has that lovely smoky taste, as it is made the traditional way with wood and charcoal. For this drink, truk’t mixes its mezcal with ancho chili liqueur, but the taste is surprisingly mild.

In my opinion, the appetizers alone make for a worthy meal at truk’t, but we went all out and tried three.

Mexican street corn (elote) is a fun summer treat, and when we saw it on the menu, we thought a little taste of summer would be perfect. The elote ($5 for two small cobs) with mayo, cheese and “chile dust” was bursting with flavor and had a slight, pleasing heat. To accommodate the four of us, we had to order two plates because we didn’t want to limit ourselves.

We knew another dish, the Brussels sprouts ($5) with garlic aioli, would be one of our favorites because we all have a weakness for sprouts. They were perfectly cooked, soft inside, seared and crispy on the outside.

Just so we wouldn’t miss out, we added the housemade guacamole with chips ($13 large). The dish is available in a smaller portion for $7, but we ordered up when we realized the large serving came with a side of both pineapple and mango relishes.

We loved the pepitas that came with the pineapple relish, and there’s nothing like tortilla chips. A bit thicker than most and perfectly salted, they held up well when scooping the guac.

Moving on to the tacos. Truk’t has a global menu, and we wanted to try the world.

The pork al pastor ($4) was my favorite. The pineapple cilantro topping did the trick, and I love that truk’t serves handmade tortillas. I also tried the pork belly breakfast taco ($4.50), which was topped with a runny poached egg. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but Helene gave it a thumbs-up.

Nikki picked the baja fish taco and the curry shrimp taco ($4 each). The elements were similar (fish, cabbage and corn tortilla), but the flavors were distinct. The fried cod had a fresh pineapple salsa along with creamy chipotle mayo coleslaw, which gave it a smooth heat. The grilled shrimp was a little spicier, and it had more of a bite with the curry sauce and the tangy Asian slaw. Both were pretty messy to eat but worth the extra napkins.

Jennifer decided on two of the Korean barbecue tacos. ($4.50 each) Thin slices of Korean-style beef lay atop a soft corn tortilla with a lovely, fermented, spicy kimchi and Asian slaw. The kimchi stood out as the most prominent flavor. She managed to finish both tacos, although she’s unclear as to how. She was that full.

Wanting something a little lighter, Helene went for the delicious jicama and mango salad ($9), to which she added steak ($3.25). The plate was visually beautiful with pink pickled onions, red-rimmed radishes, orange strips of mango and julienne-cut white jicama on a bed of arugula. The steak was to the side in bite-size pieces, and the entire blend was wonderful. Juicy and full of flavor, the Green Goddess dressing with its mint and cilantro base was sublime.

truk’t’s featured dessert was a chocolate ice cream taco ($6). What is it, you ask? A delicately-fried tortilla with an aromatic sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, stuffed with chocolate ice cream and then sealed with a chocolate coating. It came with two dipping sauces, caramel and chocolate.

Sound amazing? It was!

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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