Tuli Bistro – Brunch

Located on the corner of 21st and S, Tuli Bistro has established itself as a neighborhood “go-to” spot… a place where denizens regularly visit. Many of the employees have been there a while, so you’re almost always guaranteed to see a familiar face. The menu changes daily, and features seasonal, local fare. One of the great things about Tuli is their open kitchen style. Grab a seat at the bar and watch them create your meal from start to finish. This bar seats about a dozen or so, with two other high top tables available for parties of two. The “dining room” is more like a sun room. It remains comfortable year-round though, thanks to the heat lamps that warm it in the winter and ceiling fans for the summer months. Heavy coverings roll open to fully secure the open space between the roof and the railing. It works great to keep out both the rain and hot sun. When the weather is nice, it’s a fabulous place to enjoy a glass of wine and sit outside, without actually sitting outside.

The inside bar

Outside dining room

Tuli is the elder sibling of Restaurant Thir13en, so you’ll see some familiar sounding dishes on the menu if you’ve ever been to 13. They are equally delicious, but very different dining experiences, with Tuli being the more casual place you might regular, and Thir13en being a little fancier and reserved for a special night.

I’ve eaten dinner and brunch several times at Tuli over the years, and it never ceases to impress. The waitstaff is well trained and attentive, presentation is fabulous, and if you ever receive anything that isn’t up to snuff, they will gladly return it from whence it came and make sure you are the happiest you could be with your order.

One of the best things about Tuli’s Sunday brunch? Bottomless mimosas! At $9 a pop with the purchase of an entrée, this is one of the best deals in Sacramento. Before you say, holy cow, how is that a deal? these mimosas aren’t made with Cook’s and Sunny D… Nope! These mimosas consist of Odwalla orange juice and a delicious cava.

Bottomless mimosas FTW!

Brunch menu

I had it on good advice to get the trout benedict. This was amazing. I’m a sucker for a light, lemon-y Hollandaise sauce and this did not disappoint. With thick cut brioche serving as the base, the poached eggs, with a sprinkling of chives and paprika, perched atop a large and long filet of expertly cooked trout. This was all brought together by the aforementioned Hollandaise sauce, of which there was, delightfully, no shortage. Accompanying the benedict was a side of home fries. If you happen to get this, do be cautious of bones. It’s difficult to completely debone a fish like this, so just be on the lookout!

Trout Benedict

The other dish was cheesy grits. Not only were they cheesy, but had a kick like a small mule, so beware, all you non-iron clad stomach sufferers. You might want to have the Prilosec on hand! I also am a sucker for cheesy grits, or grits of just about any hue. These were sticky and thick… just the way I like ‘em! The cheese wasn’t over powering and added just the right amount of savory. Included were two eggs, any style. I went with scrambled. Perhaps next time I’ll get them poached or over medium. Sauteed onions, roasted red peppers, shrimp, tomatoes, and hot links (I got these on the side) completed the dish. This was also extremely filling, but luckily reheats very well, which was good because I ate these grits for a couple of (glorious) days!

Cheesy Grits

Overall, Tuli is an excellent place to go for a great, comfortable meal. They serve lunch and dinner, and brunch on Sundays. It’s pretty affordable, but if it is out of your price range, they do participate in Sacramento Dine Downtown Week if you’d like to take advantage of that.

Adam also does catering for parties of any size, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for someone to feed your group!

Bottom line, Tuli is one of my favorites… a fabulous place to go when I just feel like going out.

Overall: 4.5/5

Price: $$$/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Note: They do not take reservations. Open seating at the bar. Lunch served Mon-Fri. Sunday brunch only from 9:30-2:00. Dinner 7 days (starts at 5:00 on Sat and Sun).

http://www.tulibistro.com

1031 S Street (on the corner of 21st and S, across from Rite Aid)
916.451.8854

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tuli-Bistro/151660940269

Tuli Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant Thir13en

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that I am not completely impartial to this restaurant. Chef Adam Pechal is a friend of mine. And I’m sure he thanks his lucky stars every day for it. Now onto my evening.)

Restaurant Thir13en, heretofore to be known as simply 13, occupies the area formerly used by Chanterelle in the Sterling Hotel. Being a fan of Tuli and wishing Adam nothing but success, I was very excited to check out his new venture. Going there on a mild summer evening is, in fact, one of the best ways to spend a few hours with close friends, sipping on a glass of wine or a signature cocktail, and leisurely chewing some cheesy comestibles (random Monty Python reference. If you get it, score 5 for no embarrassment, 3 for slight embarrassment… crap, I keep leading you down the garden path, Mrs. Bueller. Wow. I’ll stop.) So when I noticed that they were participating in Sacramento Dine Downtown Week, I was eager to introduce our friends Jeb and Lea, who are new to Sacramento. If you are unfamiliar with Dine Downtown, it is a week (actually ten days, I think) where participating restaurants offer a prix fixe menu of three courses for $30. Many also do wine pairing for an additional $15.

13 has a very cozy feel, with dark woods, a relatively low ceiling, and soft lighting. It is intimate, comfortable, private, yet not isolated. There is also an upstairs dining room that is a new acquisition for the restaurant. Situated off the main foyer of the hotel, it was a hair salon in its previous life. I’d guess they can probably seat about 40, 50 at the most. In order to reach it, you have to go back out the front door, up the stairs and into the hotel through a side stair way. This dining room is enclosed by glass and accessed by two heavy glass doors. On this night there were no available seats; I’m sure Dine Downtown brought out a lot of patrons. This is where we were seated. Immediately, I noticed the noise level. It was nearly impossible for me to hear the other people at our table and it took time to adjust my ears and brain enough to carry on a conversation. Also, the restroom is back out the glass doors, up the stairs, to the left down the hallway, and on the right. There is only one. However, you can also take the elevator back downstairs to use the restrooms in that dining room.

upstairs dining room

upstairs bar area

If you’ve ever been to Tuli, you know they don’t have the ability to serve oysters. Well, 13 does! So here’s our dozen of yummy kumamoto oysters. Instead of the traditional mignonette sauce, 13 serves their oysters with spicy dijonaise and pear prosecco granita. These were not included on the Dine Downtown menu 🙂

Oysters all around!

The first course: 12 Hour Beeler Ranch pork belly with apple “3” ways, parsnips, and bulls blood. This was paired with a chardonnay. Obviously I didn’t order this, so I can’t speak for its flavor or texture. Needless to say, it was a hit with the person who ordered it.

My first course was a beet salad with pistachio-crusted goat cheese, arugula, blood oranges, fennel, tossed with a golden balsamic vinaigrette and paired with a sauvignon blanc. The goat cheese was fabulous. I loved the crunchy texture of the pistachios as a counterpoint to the smooth goat cheese. Calling this a “beet” salad was a bit of a misnomer, however, as it was mostly arugula. I really enjoyed this. It was perfectly dressed and the crouton was also a great addition to add a little bit more crunch to the overall dish.

The second course was a sous vide and seared Passmore Ranch sturgeon perched atop a Tasso-braised rainbow chard, surrounded by a pillow of buttermilk parsnip puree and sunk in a lake of sauce almondine. If you’re wondering what the heck “sous vide” means, check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sous-vide. It was paired with an Orvieto, which is both a growing region in pretty much the middle of Italy, and what they call the wine from that area. It’s a dryer, less sweet wine, and not as heavy or buttery as a lot of chardonnays these days. I enjoyed this dish, but thought it was a tad heavy on the almonds. The puree was smooth, buttery, and was the “glue” that tied in all the flavors. The sturgeon was perfectly prepared.

The meat dish was a sirloin steak from Lucky Dog Ranch, also sous vide and then skillet seared with Oregon blue cheese, butter, a wild mushroom ragout, and whiskey demi and sous vide potatoes. I did have a small bite of this and was good, although Jeb found it to be a tad on the tough side. The flavors, however, were wonderful and it was cooked to exact specifications. This was paired with a Twisted Rivers syrah.

The full vegetarian of our group was given an orecchiette pasta with various veggies. This was perhaps the funniest order ever. When we asked what the vegetarian option was, the server had no idea, since apparently, they hadn’t had anyone request one. After he had found out for us, we were told it was “pasta with vegetables.” What kind of vegetables? “Whatever you see on the menu will probably be in there.” It turned out to be quite tasty, however, and a very large portion that was good enough for another meal. The reason for the caption? The menu said exactly that.

The vegetarian or vegetarian option

Dessert was a deliciously smooth, creamy, and utterly yummy panna cotta with a wedge of strawberry, orange glaze winter citrus, and almond biscotti, paired with a moscato d’asti that was light and refreshing.

panna cotta ftw

The other dessert was a chocolate bread pudding with whiskey sauce and salty caramel ice cream. It was quite a large serving that managed to not be too heavy. The ice cream was a lovely complement.

Chocolate bread pudding

While this was for the Dine Downtown week, however there are plenty of other delicious things to try if any of these dishes aren’t on the menu. The Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite (and I’ve had a lot of mac and cheese!), the scallops are just the perfect mix of sweet and savory, and the Passmore fish is always a good bet. And someone told me the burger was the best he’d ever had.

On this occasion, the service at first, was incredibly slow and the server a little short and brusque. But I know he was incredibly busy, and it got much better as the evening progressed.

So, to recap, request a downstairs seat when you make your reservation (they are on Open Table), order pretty much ANYTHING, and settle in for a fantastic night of food, cocktails, and friends.

Out of five stars:
4.5 stars overall
3.75 for value
3.75 for service
4.5 for food

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