SWEET LULA’S – BYOB

For years, our friends had always lamented the dearth of restaurants in Pitman, NJ. A quaint little town that featured a theatre that booked some good acts and some interesting plays; it was like a miniature Collingswood, without the eateries. In the past couple of years, there have been  two notable dining spots that have opened to fill the needs of theatre goers. Our group of eight had been to Barcelona in the past and last night it was time to check out Sweet Lula’s. Located almost directly across the street from the theatre, Sweet Lula’s is owned by Anthony Asbury, a local puppeteer with film credits to his name. The unique dining spot shows old-time silent movies continuously on it’s back wall. Eight of us had  7:30 theatre reservations and were not about watching movies on a wall.

Our wines for the evening were the 2002 Thorn-Clarke Barossa Shiraz Having spent a few years in my cellar I thought this one had lost a little of that intense peppery shiraz note but Kathy still felt it was too sweet and much preferred drinking Gerry C.’s wine the 2005 Cantina Zaccagnini, Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Riserva, a medium bodied dry wine with bright cherry flavors mingled with cracked pepper. It was a very food-friendly wine. While Katie, our capable server, described a couple of specials, we carefully studied the menu.

Probably the most unusual item selected was Tom T.’s choice of the Spaghetti Squash which consisted of summer squash, baked, the meat removed and shredded, the core basted with butter, garlic, paprika and nutmeg and then refilled and baked once again before being topped with fontina cheese. It was certainly an interesting treatment. The rest of us settled for more run of the mill choices like the  Caprese Salad with fresh Jersey tomatoes and mozzarella topped with a balsamic dressing.

Jerry C. had the Spinach Salad with bacon and mushrooms and a creamy peppercorn dressing.

I went with the Soup du Jour which on this night was a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo that had some nice seasonings and that distinct Cajun treatment. I though it was quite tasty and would have been improved by being served slightly hotter. My soup was warm, at best.

It looked like a decent crowd and it was apparent that most of them were headed to the theatre, also. The bright interior of Sweet Lula’s features a preponderance of round tables which seem to be at a premium in most restaurants and provide a much better seating arrangement when we have six or eight friends gathered for a meal. Kudos to them for that.

Joe B. ordered the Basa Florentine. The menu doesn’t offer much description but the Basa is a Vietnamese or Thai catfish and how it found its way to Pitman, NJ, I have no idea. Joe’s dish, as was true for the majority of our entrees, came with mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots.

Pictured from left to right are my Pork Fillets with Candied Apples, Tom’s Prime Rib and Carol B.’s Shrimp and Scallops (hold the Scallops and give me extra shrimp). I thought mine was good. It was very reminiscent of a home cooked meal.

 Barbara T. had mixed feelings about her Lobster Ravioli. She very much liked the fact that each ravioli was full of real lobster pieces rather than a compressed mousse of lobster. She was not quite as thrilled with the bacon flavored sauce that she felt overpowered the entire dish. It was a case where she felt there would have been an addition of flavor by a subtraction of sauce.

My wife, Kathy’s dish, the Mushroom Ravioli looked very similar to Barbara’s. Kathy was not quite as concerned with the amount of sauce. She kinda liked the bacony flavor but she thought the mushroom filling was a bit bland. Overall, there were some hits and some misses. There also seemed to be a shortage of ice at Sweet Lula’s. I neglected to mention earlier that Joe B. had brought a Rodney Strong Chardonnay which spent the evening basking in a small pool of water and maybe three ice cubes in what looked like an ice bucket. Our water glasses were also noticeably devoid of those little frozen cubes. My guess would be that Sweet Lula’s gets a future visit from our group although it may be more result of their proximity to the theatre than any culinary magic performed during our initial visit.

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4 Responses to “SWEET LULA’S – BYOB”

  1. I’m so glad to see you review this place. I love it so much. I met Anthony through a co-worker here, and he’s been incredibly generous toward me. I’m currently in the middle of developing his website as a personal thank you (for my girlfriend’s birthday he let us dine in private and had the waitstaff sing happy birthday, it was wonderful).

    The complaints you have are, honestly, what I thought too! I had that same soup that you had and it was so delicious, but it was also not that hot. The lobster ravioli are incredibly delicious but once again I agree the sauce overpowers the meal. That is my girlfriend’s favorite dish and she absolutely loves the sauce and doesn’t want it to change, but for me the saltiness of it could be toned down a bit (that is, of course, probably the only thing we’ve ever disagreed on, haha).

    If I could tell him one thing to improve it would have to be the use of mashed potatoes. His mashed potatoes are fantastic, but every entree I’ve ever had there had a side of mashed potatoes!

    Other than those things, I adore this place. The waitstaff is incredible (unlike the rude servers at Barcelona, long story!) and it’s so nice to be able to sit at the bar and watch the owner cook the meals himself.

    Next time you go, try the fried brussel sprouts. They are so delicious.

  2. Sam Bullock Says:

    My wife and I have been fans of Sweet Lulas ever since Anthony first opened. We have never had an entree that was not exellent. I would hope your readers would try the place for theirselves. Sam Bullock

    • Sam

      Thanks for the comment. I agree that Sweet Lula’s is certainly worth trying. It’s a nice addition to an area in need of dining spots.

      Frank

  3. Rude customer service. I will never eat there again. Period.

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