I had just bought a half off coupon for Ten 22 ($50 GC for only $25) when there was an awful review of the place in the Sacramento Bee. I mean, really bad. Interestingly this now famous bad review has been pulled from the site and can no longer be found. But trust me, it was bad!
Now a lot of people are hating the Bee critic. He admitted at the beginning of his tenure that he's not a food critic, just a writer who got the gig. In many ways I see him being similar to me. I love food, but I've also admitted that I haven't got a super palate to be able to pull out flavors, etc. What he and I can do, though, is give our opinions on dining experiences. And I have to give it to him for being honest, brutally so in this case, because I'd rather hear true experiences from unbiased diners before I go and spend my hard earned cash there. After all, I have plenty of other restaurants still on my To Do list to waste my time and money on a bad place.
But I already had my $50 gift certificate, had heard mixed reviews, and figured I might as well see for myself. I was a little concerned because I was reminded of how half my foodie friends loved Tuli Bistro and the other half had awful experiences there. A restaurant needs to be consistent - good. A bad day once in a while, understandable, but repeatedly is something to worry about.
We went for Sunday dinner on a very blustery and cool day. The restaurant is very spacious with lots of the historic brick and then light wood furnishings. We were there kinda early - 6:00, and so it was on the empty side. In fact I didn't see anyone sitting inside, everyone had opted for patio dining - and we did too. But what I liked in the interior was that they had a large private room to the side and in the main dining room the tables seemed nicely spaced. Perhaps it seems more crowded together when people are actually seated.
The outdoor patio was walled in to help with the wind. There were some giant umbrellas for shade and a very nice, large fire pit that was lit later in the evening. We were happy to sit in the sun to warm from the chill of the breeze.
We decided to share the bruschetta appetizer. It came with two with an olive/tomato tapenade, two with salmon, and two with pulled pork. We both agreed the pork was our favorite. It was piled high and the waiter told us that they made the BBQ sauce in house. It was on the sweet side with just a slight tang. But the pork was plentiful, nicely shredded, and not too wet. The salmon was also generous but rather plain. I would have liked it to have been smoked.
I wasn't too hungry after having greedily gobbled two of Esther's Cupcakes earlier in the afternoon. I opted for the small plate of two braised ribs over mashed potatoes. I enjoyed it very much, even though it was similar to the pulled pork I had just eaten. The ribs were tender and not overly coated with the BBQ sauce. I payed special attention to the mashed potatoes. Mashed is not my favorite, but I did find myself happily eating away. A big part being that they were definitely fresh with the tell tale signs of chunks and the consistency was thick yet creamy. I've had too many sad experiences of mushy/soggy mashed potatoes that are more akin to porridge.
My friend had the roasted vegetable platter that included spaghetti squash, beets, broccolini, potatoes, and onions. It had a balsamic glaze and shaved parmesan atop. She thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the beets. To me it looked like a huge platter and she couldn't finish it all.
Out of the desserts we were both drawn to the ice cream sandwiches. Unfortunately, we were thinking cookies, as is the norm, when what we got were pastry puffs. They were good for what they were. There was nothing distinct about them, like an obvious clue of it being homemade ice cream(?) by texture or vanilla flavor. I did like that the chocolate sauce was provided in a little bowl on the side so that you could add as much as you liked.
We did have excellent service. The waiter made a point to stop by often, make recommendations, and give little tidbits of info like the bit about the homemade BBQ sauce. So all in all I can't find much fault with our experience. It was nice enough, though not exceptional enough to draw me back. Certainly none of the major faux pas like the Bee critic experienced (cold food, bad service).
Urbanspoon has a 77% Like rating, so I'd say go and decide for yourself whether you choose to hit the Like or Don't Like buttons. Myself, I'm not gonna pick either since I'm pretty much ambivalently in the middle.