new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Tuli Bistro: How Cool are You Feeling?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuli Bistro: How Cool are You Feeling?

Tuli Bistro
2031 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811-6819
(916) 451-8854

Tuli Bistro is a relatively new entry into Sacramento's dining scene, a place that has gained a not inconsiderable following among Sacramento's food geeks. Chef Adam Pechal's largely small-plates menu attempts to rely on sustainable, local ingredients, and the laid-back, neighborhood ambiance makes a pretty solid attempt at attaining midtown coolness. Signage is minimal: you better know it's there, or you'll miss it. This is probably instrumental in insuring the place remains cool. I couldn't say.

We began with the beet salad,featuring roasted toybox beets, arugula, endive, orange, blue cheese, and a tangerine vinaigrette. I'm a big advocate of the beet salad and this was a nice effort, with an interesting variety of baby beets and a fresh, light flavor from the citrus vinaigrette, the cheese lending matters an appealing funkiness. Nothing innovative here, but very enjoyable.

Our second selection was the wood roasted Smokey Goat pizza, which is (rather entertainingly) rolled out and produced before your eyes if you happen to be dining at the bar. This ain't always a foolproof practice: the guy manning the wood oven managed to char our first one, but hey, we were feeling pretty relaxed. Once the thin crust pizza did appear, it was a nice effort: crispy, nice blackened crust, plenty of zing from the jalapeno, bacon, and goat cheese.

We decided to go with the poultry for our larger plates. First up was the twee titled "Lil' Bucket of Chicken," which is actually exactly what it says it is: a dimunitive bucket of scaled-down fried chicken, produced from a poussin. (Folks, it's a baby chicken. Check your sentimentality at the door). The chicken was pretty darn tasty, however, with a light, flaky, and not too greasy crust. The coleslaw was all right, but the accompanying mashed potatoes were either ironically produced to taste exactly like KFC instant potatoes or actually were KFC instant mashed potatoes, and either way, I'm not thrilled.

Second was wood fired quail with andouille stuffing, Southern greens, and a pomegranate sauce - a pretty tasty dish, with tender teeny little bird meat and a rich interior stuffing. The stuffing did get a spot dry, but that is simply what happens when one cooks things inside of a bird. The greens were good, although I am not entirely sure what was Southern about them.

Finally, we selected the bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. A pretty good effort, if not on par with the good ol' stuff in New Orleans (needs some buttery ass whisky sauce, or some nuts, or something) but the portion was ginormous and the vanilla ice cream tasty. Simple, satisfying.

Tuli Bistro is a swell addition to downtown Sacramento, and is a good, hip place to hang out, eat high-end food, and enjoy a casual, downbeat sort of setting. Sitting at the bar is a good way to go if you enjoy hearing chef banter and seeing the food put together - it's a fun look into the restaurant biz. I'll be happy to return again.

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