There’s nothing like being pleasantly surprised by a restaurant about which you have little expectations. And that’s exactly what happened when I was invited to dine at Tula’s in North Hollywood. It’s a quiet option for casual, neighborhood dining or drinks when your want to take a departure from the usual suspects — and there’s free parking, as well as dinner specials and happy hour deals at the adjacent Decoy Lounge.
Never heard of it? Actually, you’ve probably passed it at one time or another. It’s the restaurant at the Beverly Garland Hotel on Vineland Avenue. Named after the late actress, the hotel is still owned by her family. Tula is named after Garland’s granddaughter and a large photo of her as a small child decorates the breakfast room of the restaurant.
Tula’s was completely renovated in 2006 when it changed from the former Paradise Café. The dining room has a modern, clean, bright design. The dishware is contemporary. The Decoy Lounge boasts a large glam head shot of Beverly Garland, has a good sized bar and comfortable, relaxed couches. There’s also a large outside patio, as well as the Director’s room — a private dining room with a rich oak table and leather high back chairs with seating for 14.
The menu is a mix of Mediterranean and California influences. Executive Chef Daniel Csotai has run the kitchen for seven years and prides himself on presentation and the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Pastries, desserts, pancakes and granola are among the many items made in house.
The day I visited was for lunch. My dining partners and I shared dishes, so I was able to taste a wide variety of items. We were first presented with a lovely basket filled with flatbread crackers and assortment of bread. We started with the combination platter which included calamari (and an aioli remoulade), spicy lime shrimp shooter, spicy chicken wings and hummus ($15). It’s a very nice variety and quite plentiful, but not heavy. Next up was the Chop Chop salad which was packed with turkey breast, hearts of palm, blue cheese, bacon, red onion and egg dressed lightly with a balsamic vinagerette. Unlike most salads that are mostly lettuce, this salad is dense and filling.
One of the most interesting and delicious sandwiches on the menu is the Altantic Salmon and Crab Cake BLT which is served open faced on a toasted foccacia canape with the addition of caper aioli, applewood smoked bacon and micro greens ($13). There’s also a hefty 1/3 lb, burger topped with bacon, cheese and advocado that you need to cut with a fork ($12). It was perfectly cooked at medium as requested. Sandwiches come with a choice of fries or fresh fruit.
Entrees include chicken, steak, fish, pasta and a market omelette. We shared the pan-seared basa sole dressed with lemon, garlic, roasted lime and parsley on a generous bed of vegetables that includes artichoke, tomato, mushroom, spinach, carrots and roasted corn ($16). Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for dessert , but I hear the tiramisu and crème brulee are stand-out.
The dinner menu is similar with the addition of some dishes such as filet mignon, NY steak, veal scallopini and rigatoni bolognese, among others.
Looking for a real deal? Dine between 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and take advantage of the Sunset Dinners which include a choice of soup or salad, entrée of the day, dessert, coffee or tea — all for $20.
If you’re in the neighborhood and want to meet someone for a drink and appetizers or desserts, the Decoy Lounge offers a variety of small plates, plus a very nice round up of cocktails (including 100 calorie cocktails) and martinis, wines, beer, ports and cognancs. Be sure to check out the twice a day Happy Hour from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with complimentary food and discounts on all drinks and 10 p.m. to midnight,with discounts on all drinks.
The hotel itself sits on 7 ½ acres and was built in the 1970’s. It has somewhat of a boutique feel in a retro way and is the stomping grounds for tourists, as well as entertainment executives. The amenities include tennis courts, a pool, a ballroom, meeting rooms, and a rather impressive gift store filled with spa products (love the shea butter bath products!), jewelry, crafts and tourist fare.
Karen Young is the Founder/Editor of My Daily Find. Got news? Stories? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org