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Tullulahs in Bay Shore

With one thing and another, I hadn't been to Tullulah's in quite some time, certainly not since they changed around the menu a little. I've had the chance to go back a couple of times over the last few weeks, and this will go back to being a regular trip.

For me the trigger was the opening (or my discovery) of a number of "gourmet" (I use the term loosely) sandwich places: Roast in Melville, Souper Fry in Merrick, among others. I've been variously pleased and disappointed by them, and by purest happenstance have been in or near Bay Shore and remembered Tullulah's
http://www.tullulahs.com/

Wow. Head and shoulders above the others. Glorious concoctions. Some of this is almost puzzling: Souper Fry advertises that their fries are hand-cut, and I know Tullulah's aren't, but the latter's truffle fries were far, far better, crisp and tasty than anything I had at SF.

I maintain a limited list of places for repeat lunch visits (reserving time for new places); Tullulah's is back on the list.

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Souper Fry
1762 Merrick Ave, Merrick, NY 11566

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  1. One of those places I've passed but never visited. For a take out place, the portions seem very small for the prices and I'm really turned off by them having a corkage fee when they don't serve wine. I guess it wouldn't hurt to check it out, but I get the feeling I'll be headed to another place afterwards.

    9 Replies
    1. re: ediblover

      Portions are small? If you've never been there, how do you know how large the portions are?

      All of the lunchtime sandwiches and wraps are $8.50 and under, and there was enough (for me) that I brought half of my sandwich home. The blackboard menu is eat-in (Thursday through Saturday dinner service only) and consists of tapas, which I've never had there; with combinations like Chicken Confit / Roasted Brussels Sprouts / Bacon / Dijon Cream at $12 or Marinated Painted Hills Hanger Steak / Roasted Crimini Mushrooms / Black Mission Fig at $13, they'd have be really tiny to not justify the prices considering those ingredients. And the point of a tapas menu is to order 2-3 items per person.

      1. re: Scott_R

        The pictures of the food... Small... And I doubt they were using oversized dishes.

        1. re: ediblover

          You do know what tapas is, right? The servings are less than entree sized. And the prices at Tullulah's is in line with other tapas places. See, e.g.,
          http://www.swallowrestaurant.com/?pag...
          http://cafebuenosaires.net/tapasmenu....
          http://www.bin56.com/pdf/bin-56-tapas...

          If you don't want tapas, order at lunchtime from the wrap/sandwich menu.

          1. re: Scott_R

            You can count Lucy's in Babylon in that group too - similar format.

            1. re: Scott_R

              Um, yes...

              I'm not understanding why you're getting all fired up. I commented on the initial impression of a place I recognized and said I would go there. And, I feel the comments were just. For a takeout place, the prices are high and it seems off-base that a BYOB place would have a corkage fee (It'd be an interesting topic).

              1. re: ediblover

                No one's getting fired up. But you haven't been reading what I've wrote:
                1) takeout is for lunchtime sandwiches and wraps, all of which are $8.50 and under (and can be eaten there).
                2) dinner (tapas) is eat-in (I don't know if takeout is even an option), and prices/portions are appropriate for sit-down tapas

                1. re: Scott_R

                  Part of the pricing of a restaurant is the ambiance/experience. It's overpriced. In any case, I didn't expect any response until the follow up to the initial/passing thoughts. Speaking of which...

                  The fries are good. They're not shoestring (A big positive in my book. I don't mind shoestring fries, but think they're taking the easy way, since regular fries take more technique), but rather indistinguishable from the common fry you find everywhere. I'd put theirs on par with McDonald's (big praise).

                  The sandwich measured at 8 inches. White flour, thickness was appropriate, bread to filling ratio was fair, could've been toasted better and was little more than a vehicle. I got the veggie one, which had asparagus, onions, tomatoes and carrots. The goat cheese was nicely melted/distributed and the balsamic was in the appropriate amount.

                  It was nice. I don't see myself returning. To its (big) credit, everything was cooked perfectly. The fries were perfectly cooked, the vegetables were nicely cut and also perfectly cooked. Two things that bothered me (same thing, really).

                  While everything was cooked well, it lacked focus. Tossing a bunch of vegetables together doesn't make for a good sandwich. Like any other dish, it needs a focus, a feature component that the other ingredients can support. The bread bothered me in that it was an opportunity missed; I love white flour (more on this later), but not for my sandwiches, when there's so much variety, especially for a veggie where texture can be (and was) lacking.

                  The second (and controversial) part was that the tapas menu scared me. There were over a dozen items on the menu and truffle oil was in a LOT of them. I don't dislike it (heck, I keep it), but I'll be among the first to admit that it's nothing but a cheap trick. It's something I reach for when I'm thinking, "Okay, this needs something, but I don't feel like putting in much effort..." Featuring it once or twice, I understand. When it keeps appearing (and is even a option on the fries), that's just scary.

                  The prominence of the truffle oil and the lack of focus on the sandwich led me to conclude that the place has a very good cook, but not a chef. The folks in the kitchen definitely know how to cook, but seemed to be lacking refinement/vision.

                  Now for something completely different...

                  I wasn't satisfied with what I had, so thought I'd stop by at Coyle's on the way back. Joe's Pizza is next door and I thought, "Now there's a place I also pass by but never stop at," so I figured, what the heck. Everything looked unappetizing. Not a trace of char or even descent browning to be found on anything. Eh. I got a chicken slice and a Sicilian.

                  "Thank you" was what I thought when I bit into the slice. It wasn't that it was good (usual low quality ingredients), but it was just "right." The cheese to sauce (Not sweet, herby or spicy, but just tomato-y) ratio was a perfect 1:1. The crust was thin and crispy, yet foldable. The chicken was rightly proportioned. The Sicilian looked like a dense brick, but was very soft. I was amazed. So much so that I HAD to try the other offerings.
                  Zeppole: Very chewy and reminded me of mochi. It worked, but I think I've enjoyed every fried dough I've every tried.
                  Sausage roll: Would have liked some crisp slices, but surprised by the small dices of peppers.
                  Grandma slice: I thought it was a miss. I expected thin and crispy, got something between a regular and Sicilian, which was crunchy and a bit dense. Didn't like it, but got the impression they made it that was on purpose in order to have a different crust.
                  Meatball and mushroom hero: Cheap bread that was perfectly toasted, fillings were just about to spill over (perfect).

                  Every neighborhood should have a place like Joe's. Sure, it's just a simple place, but it's a place that gets just about everything right with what they have. If only the places around here... *sigh* Anyway, I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition; two places that both know how to cook, but one was focused while the other seemed lost.

                  1. re: ediblover

                    Ediblover, good on you for trying Tullulah's after all this debate, and sincere thanks for your thoughtful report. I gotta ask you, though, have you been eating on Long Island? A place where "everything is cooked perfectly" is a rarity out here, despite the over-reliance on truffle oil (which I also hate).

                    I'm trying to figure out your taste. On the one hand, you're obviously a stickler, on the other hand you dig chicken pizza which always struck me as a wackadoo idea. You're OK with white-flour bread, even if it's cheap, so long as it is toasted well.

                    Please tell us which other restaurants on LI you like.

                    Re: Coyle's. Is this the one in Islip or Bay Shore? I like the vibe at Coyle's, but never thought the ice cream was anything special. You?

                    1. re: EZ Pass

                      It was fries and vegetables. I guess we can debate the difficulty of cooking each properly, but I still have to give it to them for getting both right, as many places have fries that are below McDonald's and severely overcook the vegetables to mush.

                      Nothing at Joe's Pizza was good (In the grand flavor of things). I never stepped inside before because Salvatore's is close by. Still, I greatly appreciated their execution of the basics, which so many places get wrong. Cheap ingredients are fine and can be overlooked (long as the price matches), but bad execution or planning is another matter. It's just a great local joint (that just about humiliates the places around here - Deer Park area).

                      My favorite place isn't one that I can recommend; after all, if I were to rate it, the max I can give is 1.5 stars. It's Horace & Sylvia's in Babylon:
                      http://www.horaceandsylvia.com/ordere...
                      Despite not having superb food (and having cheap fries), the menu is thought out, the execution is good, it's fairly close (huge factor) and the lunch menu is a great value. The minuses are that it's still just a low/mid level place and the lack of specials on the menu (And the cheap fries). Nevertheless, they've my respect for being good for what they are.

                      There was another topic on ice cream places on LI. My feelings on Coyle's (This is the Bayshore location) haven't changed since then. It's a solid place, which uses artificial ingredients (I've no issue with that, since it just says the pastry guys know what to use), but doesn't have anything original/special. That's to say, it's not a place I seek out, but may stop by when passing.

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                      Deer Park Cafe
                      104 US Highway 6, Port Jervis, NY 12771

      2. I've wanted to go there for some time now - I may have to insist on it next time I go out! My parents LOVE the Southside Hotel right around the corner (I can't stand it), maybe I can do some gentle persuasion!

        *blushing* I loved Souper Fry when I tried it, but I like my fries soft, so......

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        Souper Fry
        1762 Merrick Ave, Merrick, NY 11566

        1. Just to note: I went there for lunch last week. Top-notch meal. The inside is pretty funky (e.g., rough concrete floors), though I didn't really take the opportunity to look around.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Scott_R

            What did you have, Scott? I'm headed there next week.

            1. re: EM23

              Went there for lunch--I have yet to go back for dinner--and had the Ode to Gringo Loco, for old time's sake. Even better than I recalled, though I can't say how or why; maybe they tweaked things.