Tuli Bistro has been a bit of an enigma for me because I had such conflicting reviews from my foodie friends. Eileen at Just the Two of Us loves it. So do SacEats and Runnergirl from SacRag.com. But then Ann at Sacatomato had a mixed review with a final thumbs down, and Paul from Epicureans gave them three opportunities and each time they failed miserably so that he refuses to step foot in there again. So it's no wonder that I took my sweet time to go there myself.
My father came for Easter weekend and, as I've mentioned before, he likes to eat well here because he doesn't get such nice restaurants in Salem, OR. I figured it was a good opportunity to go to some place new for the both of us.
It was a rainy April day and so the shades were pulled down over the patio dining area. Inside there were some bar seats available and I tried, unsuccessfully, to get us to sit there. I knew that the bar seats are for you to get a view of the food prep and had also heard that the service was better at the bar then at the tables. But Veena and dad wanted a table, and so we were escorted outside. Tuli does have a great set of propane heaters out there and so we were not chilled at all.
Unlike my friends, we had no problem with service at all. Our server was attentive and pleasant and checked in on us often. The other staff were also attentive and spoke to us.
The menu changes daily because of the focus of what's fresh and local.
I had baked my DB Challenge for my dad for dessert over the weekend, so my review today is very limited to just a couple of items. My dad started off with the beet salad which had blue cheese, candied walnuts, tossed with a nice vinagrette. My dad couldn't figure out the greens and they looked unfamiliar to me. When we got home we tried to find them in my food directory and figured they could possibly have been dandelion greens. He enjoyed it.
There were many great dishes to pick from the menu but dad and I both ended selecting the same thing, the rabbit pappardelle. We received bowls of fresh pasta tossed with a thick rustic sauce with shreds of rabbit meat, peas, and a wine based sauce. It was delicious. My father commented that the serving had appeared small, but he found it filling and satisfying and he really enjoyed it. It was also piping hot, which I loved because too often dishes arrive just warm and get cold on you too quickly.
Veena opted for one of their standard pizzas, the Salumi, which had slices of salami, pepperoni, and chorizo over a thin crust. It was about 10" in size so that she had some left for lunch the next day. They were generous with the meat and the crust was at a crisp, thin perfection.
The desserts sounded good, but we left them for another day so we could enjoy mine at home.
Overall, I would have to fall on the side of Eileen and SacEats in saying that the food was wonderful and the service was good. Perhaps they've paid attention to the negative reviews and really stepped up their game. I'm willing to go back again.