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Talula's Garden or a.kitchen?

blackbookali May 20, 2012 07:40 PM

Coming in for a visit and have never been to either. Kind bro in law got reservations to both but still torn. Thoughts on one vs the other?

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    Buckethead RE: blackbookali May 20, 2012 08:09 PM

    I like a.kitchen much more but I haven't been to Talula's since the current chef took over.

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      Cheesesteak RE: blackbookali May 21, 2012 07:48 AM

      I also liked a.kitchen better, but also haven't been to Talula's since the new chef arrived. The patio at Talula's is really great though.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Cheesesteak
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        cwdonald RE: Cheesesteak May 21, 2012 07:56 AM

        The space at a.kitchen is a bit sterile. The food is very good, though small plates. Tallulah's as a space is beautiful, and the outdoor dining area is quite nice. Inside can be a bit noisy. I too have not been back since the new chef has arrived.

        1. re: cwdonald
          bluehensfan RE: cwdonald May 21, 2012 10:32 AM

          I have been to both (and have been to Talulah's since the new chef arrived). I wnet to a.kitchen for brunch. It was good but nothing out of the ordinary sans the homemade english muffin. The space is admittedly pretty tiny there. As far as Talulah's, we went there for dinner in January. It was all pretty good but there seemed to be more focus on presentation over actual taste of most things (like other Starr places), although a few of the dishes were truly very good, including one of the apps and a dessert.

          Both places were decent but not like "I gotta return real soon" IMO...

          1. re: bluehensfan
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            cwdonald RE: bluehensfan May 21, 2012 10:35 AM

            Given that both places focus on local ingredients, do you think that because it was the winter you may have had a "less interesting" meal just because there was less for the chefs to play with?

            1. re: cwdonald
              bluehensfan RE: cwdonald May 21, 2012 10:49 AM

              I think it was more of the fact that the chef seemed to be trying to incorporate a lot of different things, such as fresh ingredients, into one dish rather than focusing on how good the end result actually tastes. If memory serves me correct we had an excellent short rib pasta app and some kind of gingerbread dessert served in a small jar that were really excellent. But the chef seemed to struggle with things like the snapper entree we had (a special) which was a bit dry and small for the price. The meal itself was not bad by any stretch of the imagination but just not earth shattering.

              1. re: bluehensfan
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                deprofundis RE: bluehensfan May 22, 2012 03:57 PM

                +1, I had an identical experience at TG. IIRC, my app was rosemary pappardelle with veal ragu (excellent), dessert was steamed date pudding in a jar w/goat cheese ice cream (excellent, same thing you got). My entree, roasted leg of lamb, was very mediocre - severely underseasoned and served room temperature. Cheese selection was excellent. The room is beautiful. Service was not bad, but uneven.

                1. re: deprofundis
                  bluehensfan RE: deprofundis May 23, 2012 06:19 AM

                  That's right it was a date pudding. It was really good! Funny you mentioned the pasta. Sure enough it was veal and not short rib pasta (the latter I had at Zavino as it turns out). And our cheese was good to. Our server, who lost points for upselling, gained them back for his suggestion that we try the date pudding.

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        BelgianBeerMistress RE: blackbookali May 23, 2012 05:07 PM

        I would go to Talula's, especially if you're looking for something special. The room is stunning, and the service is complete without being stuffy. a.kitchen was also very good, but it doesn't stand out to me as much as Talula's. I also went to a.kitchen at lunch, so it was a different experience. a.kitchen tables are quite small and close together, so also for comfort, I'd go Talula.

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          citygirlinkennett RE: blackbookali Jun 19, 2012 08:00 AM

          I've eaten at both restaurants, and I like a.kitchen far better. For one, the food is simply better- and not overly concerned with adjectives and presentation (everything at TG seemed to require some unnecessary adjective to sell the item-read their menu and you will see what I mean), but I really was not impressed with the taste of the food. And you are on the hook for a very large bill without getting to taste a lot of different things. I loved akitchen because first the food was fantastic, and second because I could try three different things due to smaller size plates. But the atmosphere at TG is very nice.

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            Bob Loblaw RE: blackbookali Jun 19, 2012 11:54 AM

            I've had some great meals in Stephen Starr restaurants. Still, when it's down to a choice btwn a Starr restaurant and a non-Starr restaurant, I usually go non-Starr.

            I liked A Dot Kitchen a lot, btw, but haven't eaten at TG so can't compare the two.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bob Loblaw
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              cwdonald RE: Bob Loblaw Jun 19, 2012 12:03 PM

              My one comment is that Talulah's feels like the most un Starr Starr restaurant... I think of it more as Olexey restaurant financed by Starr. All of the others feel formulaic, kitsch, more design than substance... I do not get that feel at all at TG. That said, I really do like the menu at A.Kitchen... small plates while it actually might be more expensive, does allow for a wider variety of flavors. Still for cheese, there are few places better in Philadelphia than TG.

              1. re: cwdonald
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                Buckethead RE: cwdonald Jun 19, 2012 12:15 PM

                I think I remember reading before Talula's Garden opened that Starr gave Aimee a lot of control over the design of the place.

                1. re: Buckethead
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                  Bob Loblaw RE: Buckethead Jun 20, 2012 10:35 AM

                  Fair enough. Like I said, I haven't been to TG. And I'm not anti-Starr, I just like to also see independent places do well, when they're good.

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              Max Buten RE: blackbookali Jun 20, 2012 02:53 PM

              The noise level is very high at both. At a.kitchen it's unescapable, while Talula's has some quieter parts, especially in the garden.

              1. blackbookali RE: blackbookali Jun 25, 2012 08:25 PM

                Hey guys - thanks for all the input, I ended up going to a.kitchen and we had a great time, great drinks, I only wish I ordered more. Ill have to try Talula's for a more formal meal.

                2 Replies
                1. re: blackbookali
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                  mookleknuck RE: blackbookali Jun 26, 2012 08:17 AM

                  Thanks for reporting back. Did you order anything you would order again? Or anything worth recommending? Which drinks did you love? So glad you liked it!

                  1. re: mookleknuck
                    blackbookali RE: mookleknuck Jun 30, 2012 10:29 AM

                    we did the frisee salad - when isnt a runny yolk and cured pork fat a win in the salad department? I believe(its been awhile) some fried oysters that were good not the best ever(that's saved for Slightly North of Broad in Charleston S.C.) and Crispy walleye, a very very good dish(dont get much walleye on menus in LA). We started out at a bar near by(the name escapes me) and I stuck with bourbon - and the subsequent renditions at a.ktichen. Im sure we got a few sides but again, I only wish we ordered more. The trend of cocktails and small plates is not new but it makes for a fun fueled evening and makes we want to plan a return visit. Just an overal fun time, good drinks and good nosh.

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