Lunch with Louie at Tupelo Junction
Santa Barbara food reviews with Louie the pessimist food critic
May 26, 3:42 PM (PT)
The dog population of Santa Barbara must be quite unhappy; they are going AWOL left and right for some reason, and the city is covered with lost dog notices. For all of you unemployed and homeless people, there is a “very large reward for a black and white small bull dog”. What is a very large reward anyway, 2-3 million dollars maybe? I am keeping my eyes open; I want to move to Hope Ranch, so any help will be appreciated. Jill, the owner of Fresco in Five Points found her lost her puppy. Jill described her pooch as a miniature poodle. Color: apricot. Aren’t restaurant people adorable? The pooch is probably beige or light brown, but she loves the thing so much and he’s so delicious, we are going to make him apricot. Cute.
The Tupelo Junction Café is located at 1212 State St., next door to the Granada Theater. It originally opened right across from Paseo Nuevo on Chapala, but things took off and this move was logical and expected. It’s not necessarily a bigger place, but nicely appointed and with much better exposure. Next stop, Montecito.
The menu is original, different and refreshing with a tendency toward the classical, nostalgic, and Southern cooking. The wording and descriptions of the dishes on the menu is a marketing marvel.
We ordered a fried chicken salad with cornbread, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and an herb buttermilk dressing. And, when was the last time we had macaroni and cheese? For that matter, how long will it be before we have it again? Described as a Deep Dish Cheddar and Gouda Mac’n Cheese with smoked bacon and collard greens, it came with a warning from our waitress that it would take 10 minutes to prepare and serve. It sounded like a reasonable amount of time, so we agreed. What is ten minutes, after all, especially considering that the reward for our patience was going to be so outstanding? At the same time, we figured everything else would take ten minutes anyway. Yes, we are so compulsive that we timed the arrival, ordering and serving of about half of the restaurant’s customers.
Ten minutes. Maybe you are forewarned in order to create a little drama. Oh my God - somebody is devoting ten minutes of his life just for me! It feels so good. Exactly 9 minutes and 22 seconds later, our lunch arrived.
Well, the fried chicken salad was all right. The pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries were a nice and different addition - they actually made the dish.
The fried chicken tenders and the baby Carpinteria greens were quite generic, but overall the dish was good and the presentation excellent. I could have done without the cornbread personally, but it was there so I ate some of it. I tried to trade the rest of my cornbread with a lady sitting next to us with a piece of French bread resting passively and untouched on her plate, but was told in no uncertain terms to seek professional help.
The macaroni and cheese was molded into a square and baked. Thirty-eight seconds before its scheduled birth, it was presented to us with its friends the collard greens and some smoked bacon. The collard greens were an absolute triumph all by their lonesome, but the macaronis were dry and tasteless. One wonders how they can be so tasteless with the Gouda and cheddar cheeses all over them, but tasteless they were - to the point of seeking help from a touch of salt. All I can tell you is that my wife used to whip up some macaroni and cheese in less than five minutes and still managed to slice some hot dogs into it. They weren’t caramelized and didn’t have any form of coulis next to them, but my kids loved them and they were free. We had to pay $11.00 for this. Oh well - some good, some not so good. Like life itself, you rejoice and then you cry.
The service was adequate, though at times a little condescending, like the children were misbehaving because the teacher went to the bathroom. I don’t know where the teacher was, but she wasn’t there yesterday. Was that a pick or just a scratch? Well, whatever.
By the way, they have a great bathroom at Tupelo Junction. There is no toilet paper to the left or to the right. You sit there bewildered until you finally discover it sitting on a pedestal in front of you. It’s no easy task - you have to reach here. It’s not really that hard, but for a moment you are lost. It seems that every time you reach for something, you are either rewarded or in pain. I was so lucky this time.
All in all, a touch expensive and maybe a bit too pretentious, but unlike Aqualung, there are good intentions here.
None at this time
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