It's hard for me to walk into Tulley's on 10th (250 10th St.) and not imagine Miss Piggy racing down the outlandish two-story staircase in marabou feathers, tittering about glamour, demanding bubbly wines to tickle her snout. Which is to say that this restaurant space is so extreme in its effort to appear glamorous that it's a bit cartoonish.
Tulley's is the reincarnation of 10th & Myrtle, which closed within a year of its opening in the new Post Parkside apartments at gay ground zero in Midtown. It closed so quickly, in fact, that I never got there for a visit. I confess I wasn't in a hurry, since it did make itself infamous among foodies by earning a very unusual "unacceptable" rating from Knife and Fork and, to make things worse, was the center of some controversy because of Sunday tea dances that were quite a hit but offended the sensibilities of a few delicate folks living in the area.
The interior remains intact and is an exhibitionist's paradise. The cavernous restaurant is almost completely open and the walk on the runway, I mean stairway, is so long, you might prefer to ride the elevator. As you ascend with every eye on you, like Little Eva on her way to heaven, someone plays show tunes on a baby grand piano. Too bad it's not 10 years ago and you're not a drag queen into voguing. The not unpleasant but relentlessly gray space is lit by projected kaleidoscope image. The black-clad staff is all sweetness, light and confusion.
Dishes I sampled from the fusion menu of mainly grazing fare ranged from average to dreadful. A "bread salad" ($5) is far from the Mediterranean favorite of day-old bread torn and combined with tomatoes, herbs and onions in a fruity olive oil with a dash of vinegar. Instead it's a vastly over-dressed mixed salad with a lot of croutons. The tomatoes are virtually unrecognizable, having been nearly pickled by the excessively vinegary dressing.
Lamb empanadas ($6), decently fried and stuffed with strongly flavored chopped lamb and served with a "mint mojo," tasted good. Wayne liked his shrimp relleno ($9) -- a chile pepper stuffed with bacon and tomatoes, as well as shrimp. It was served with a corn sauce. It was a far cry from Lucero Obregon's amazing chile rellenos nearby at Zocalo. Still, I had no major dispute with anything but its cost.
Wayne's entree, salmon cooked in rice paper ($14), was inexplicably seasoned with "Thai pesto and ponzu." It was served with a big helping of sugar peas. Unfortunately, the salmon was overcooked. My own entree was a milestone in bad taste. Perfectly good grilled tenderloin was served over a white bean stew with a few bits of apples and some peppers ($15). But the beans had turned inedibly sour. I have no idea.
The menu also includes some pizzas and pastas and more grazing items called "conversation pieces." There's a lengthy wine list, and perhaps that would be your best choice here for the time being -- wine, a few starters and a lot of eye-fucking.
We've passed Rincon Latino (5055 Buford Highway, 770-936-8181) countless times in our explorations of Atlanta's most multicultural culinary district. We finally stopped last week and are glad we did.
A warning: Nobody speaks English and the menu, likewise, is entirely in Spanish. Even if you speak Spanish, you may have a bit of difficulty because your lovely but shy server speaks in barely a whisper. But don't let that deter you. It's no more difficult than figuring out the average fussy New American menu these days.
Rincon Latino serves food from Central America. There are dishes from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. We started with pupusas, the delicious tortilla-like cakes that are filled with cheese or chicharrones and fried ($1.50 each). The Salvadorans serve them with curtido, cabbage seasoned with a bit of red pepper and vinegar. My recommendation is that you choose the pupusas "revueltas," which mix the cheese and chicharrones (which are fried, crumbled pork rinds).
Wayne and I both chose Guatemala-style entrees. I ordered carne adobada ($6.99), thin, peppery-seasoned steak fried and served with salad, rice, a few beans and fried platanos. I cleaned my plate, but actually preferred Wayne's choice: pollo guisado. It's chicken stewed in an intense red sauce with potatoes, served with rice and beans and salad ($6.99).
You'll also find a variety of soups, from chicken to fish and a kinky version of menudo on weekends. There are the usual "coctels" of shrimp and octopus and one mysteriously named "vuelve a la vida" ("returns to life").
Grab your dictionary and go.
Here and there
I've been returning regularly to teaspace in Little Five Points. The place is particularly fun on Saturday night, late, when the music gets a bit edgy. I have become very fond of the restaurant's black rice. Try the lavender tea, the most intense I've ever tasted, including varieties I've sipped in Provence. ... I visited Tortillas on Ponce and still think its shrimp burrito ranks as the best in the city.
Craving comfort food, we dined at the Colonnade recently. The fried chicken remains state-of-the-art and I like the liver and onions, too. ... Nayarit on Boulevard in Grant Park still serves the best gorditas in town. The little fried corn cakes are over-stuffed with the meat of your choice. I also love the sandwiches, particularly the adobada.
The Sundown Cafe/Taqueria del Sol folks are opening another taqueria, this time in Decatur, across from Watershed. ... I lunched with Patrice Dickey at Sushi Avenue in Decatur last week. The lunch specials are an enormous bargain, though they include only California roll. My "crunchy shrimp roll" was awesome but my salmon-skin roll wasn't salmon skin, by and large.
Leave Cliff Bostock a voice mail at 404-688-5623, ext. 1504.
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