Whenever I plan to eat out, I tend to cycle through the same four gluten-free-friendly options: sushi, my favorite Persian place, local diner, and if I’m really short on ideas, Five Guy’s bunless burger. That routine can get pretty old pretty fast. If you’re looking for a menu and an atmosphere you most definitely will not find anywhere else, look no further than Tula Kitchen in Bay Shore.
I’ve been to Tula Kitchen twice, and both times, both meals were beyond incredible, but what I loved most was the diversity of the menu and their willingness to accommodate those with specific food limitations. That being said, picky eaters, beware: this is not your average grilled-cheese-type place.
My first visit was right before Halloween, when their Old World ambiance was made Older-World with skeletons and cobwebs hung from the candle sconces and handcrafted bar. The second time I visited, they had just finished building their East Room – still Old World, but with a lighter touch of whimsical French chic.
I opted for seafood both times – the first time, gluten free rigati with shrimp, little neck clams, and muscles in a white wine sauce, and the second, expertly-baked salmon cakes with a spicy remoulade and Asian coleslaw. Desert was a gluten free banana bread doused in chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Yes, both times.
What’s really innovative about this place is how conscious they are about their menu. All the chicken they serve is antibiotic- and hormone-free, all the vegetarian grains are entirely organic, and if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free, you’ve got real and tangible options – without asking your server for substitutions or alterations.
Chef and owner Jackie Sharlup opened Tula Kitchen in 2006, before which she traveled and worked as a personal chef. Sharlup named her restaurant based on the Sanskrit word for balance, because “to be surrounded by delicious, nutritious food, good company and enjoy oneself implicitly is to be at tula.” The restaurant’s been doing better and better every year, and it’s been featured in a good handful of specialty food journals and big-name newspapers.
Last but not least (because how far will you really get if the door’s locked?),Tula Kitchen is closed on Mondays, but it’s open for breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Friday, and dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. Next time you’re in the mood for something different, but you don’t quite know what different entails, head over to the heart of Bay Shore for innovative food combinations and a menu that’s genuinely could’ve-fooled-me healthy.