Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweet Lula's, Pitman

Well, here we are back in Pitman. As some of you know, the central purpose of this trip was a CD release party wherein we played most of the CD that we had been recording for the last year or so (me via files sent from Tokyo). I mean, I'd love to see my family and friends any time, but the reason this trip was at this time was for that party. You'll see some pictures when we get to a brief review of the Swede's Inn.

In the meantime, I had about 10 days to hang around Pitman, getting ready for the show and doing other fun stuff. Shortly after I got there, the historic Hotel Pitman was demolished. This is not a sad thing. If it had a glory period, it was long ago - Dad has lived in Pitman for what, 65 years? He doesn't remember it being nice either. All my life it's been sorta creepy-looking, and while we didn't see residents too often they too had a reputation for creepiness. One anecdote I heard this week was that Pitman had one of the state's highest concentrations of registered sex offenders - because the Hotel Pitman was where they all settled in to live. Mmm hmm.

On cheerier notes, Pitman's 'dining scene' welcomed the reopening of Sweet Lula's a while back. You may remember the saga wherein Anthony had to close the restaurant in its old location (which he shared with another restaurant) and wasn't sure what would happen, but he got this nearby space and has gone full-bore into decorating it. Mom and Dad have been a couple of times, and I was actually pretty keen to see what it was like.

The interior includes an open kitchen, old movies projected on the back wall, lots of big, bold photos, and the genial presence of the chef with his red toque working the tables. Growing up in Pitman during the long dry period when eating out meant formica-counter Italian, it's still nearly inconceivable to me that a place as nice as this exists here. Cloth table coverings?! Flowers?! Wine?! This was supposed to be the concept at Barcelona too, but with another year of experience behind us after I went there, I think it's safe to say it hasn't worked out that well.

The web site describes the food as 'avant garde', and certainly when we saw a peach quesadilla, we were pleasantly confused. It came with a honey dip, which furthers the dessert-y aspect, but the salad puts it back in lunch-land. This was pretty cool, actually, what with the salty and the sweet and all that. Like a flat peach pie. With cheese. The only issue, and this was common to both lunches that Dad and I ordered, was that we could have eaten two of them. I was OK with it since I'm eating less these days, but honestly I was hungry 2 hours later. Remember I'm coming from Japan too, so if you're used to the Cheesecake Factory or something, you'd be horrified by the dainty servings here.

The other thing we got was this quiche. I'm pretty sure it was sausage, because you can't get good sausage readily in Japan so I always want to eat it in America, but they had three choices - one with bacon, and I think one veg. A good quiche, to be sure, and a little more substantial than the quesadilla. If you wanted to be sure of getting enough food, you'd have to delve into the side dishes available on the menu - a salad or two, asparagus with shaved parmesan, that sort of thing. Even then, you might struggle to fill up, and that would push the price of lunch to levels that are normal for Tokyo but dangerous for Pitman. Not that we should be comparing.

Let's see that again. This may be the only time that I eat a peach quesadilla, and I'd like to remember it. The other complaint I've heard here is that the menu doesn't change much over time; my friends actually went a lot in the past but have stopped since it was always the same food.

I guess that's only food for thought if you're a local.


1 comment:

  1. My husband and I had pretty much the same experience at Sweet Lula's (We went for dinner before the renovation).
    The food was excellent, but the portions small and expensive. No bread or salad was included with the entrees (which were modest), only small portions of vegetables. My husband got dessert (an $8 brownie) while I opted for only a cup of regular coffee. I was horrified when we got the bill and saw that a single cup of coffee cost $4!
    When we got home, we were still hungry - and we had spent more than we usually do for dinner out. If they had only added a bread basket and maybe a cup of soup or salad with the meal, it would have been a great meal.
    As it was, the meal was just too expensive.