Jul's in Tyler, TX
Let me start by stating the obvious--Tyler needs all the good new restaurants it can get. We may be the chain restaurant capital of the world, There are some very good places--Bernard's, Ricks on the Square and Stanley's BBQ to name three. Tonight I ventured to Jul's for the first time, hopeful but skeptical based on what I have heard. I was a pretty big fan of Julian's, especially their Wednesday half off wine bottle night. The atmosphere at Jul's is kind of strange but not as off putting as some have told me. There is a large bar area that actually looks like a good spot to have a drink and some appetizers. I will probably return to do just that. Our party of five was seated at one of the round booths in the main dining room. Not comfortable to say the least but still okay. Then there is the menu. There is actually a good word to describe it--bizarre. I will, with 100% honesty, list just a few of the items--baked mac and cheese, edemame jalapeno hush puppies with cane syrup butter, chicken puffy tacos, pot stickers, Texas southern fried chicken salad, pho (beef or chicken), chicken ginger piccata (no, I am not making that up), shrimp and grits, and a pastrami sandwich. I can report that we passed on all of the above. Instead, we had some fried calamari and tempura shrimp and some Asian fried rice dishes, all of which were decent if not nearly as good as what was served at Julian's. The wine list is a joke-- most certainly in an effort to push the large lineup of cocktails. They do have a very respectable list of beers and ales. I think this place would do well if it would pick a genre, ANY genre, and stick with it. The servers are very well intentioned and the location is a good one. I will return because I want it to succeed. But please, lose the menu that has more choices than a Cheesecake Factory and an IHOP combined!
My wife and I had lunch there today. It was overwhelming and underwhelming. The Overwhelming: The building is huge and strange for Tyler (which isn't all bad). I agree with bhoward about the bar area. It seemed relatively quiet. Lots of chrome and red lighting, high ceiling in the dining room. And LOUD. Difficult to hear the server. The Underwhelming: We had edamame and fried calamari. The edamame was served hot. The calamari came with two dipping sauces, one described as miso and the other (well, I couldn't hear what she said.) The calamari itself was a little chewy, but OK. My wife had the chicken salad, which was pretty good. It was served with cubes of tomato and beet. Actually pretty good. My Dragon Burger was cooked perfectly medium and had some sort of sauce and some very spicy chiles. You might describe them as hot. Very good. Served with decent thinly sliced fries. Service was fine, if not inspiring. Overall, just OK. I would go back if everyone in the group wanted to, but I won't be the one to suggest it.