The sound of French music playing in Café Tallulah, the French eatery that opened on the Upper West Side on Jan. 7, seemed promising. But when the music switched to Amy Winehouse, I began to wonder. This mixed musical fare wasn’t all that different from my culinary experience to come.
Despite the weird soundtrack, Café Tallulah manages to create a French vibe in its decor—wrought iron resembling the patterns on the Eiffel Tower lines the top of the shelves by the bar. The wood and leather barstools and chairs, as well as the restaurant’s distressed vintage-looking mirrors, add a nice bohemian touch. The lighting was cozy and dim, and the candlelight added a soft glow.
But I soon realized that although the café had a sleek exterior, it was trying too hard to seem like a five-star restaurant. Instead, the fare was mediocre. Café Tallulah is not exactly in the “let’s-go-get-a-bite-to-eat” price-range—if you want an entrée that is expensive and fairly small or an appetizer more than $10, this is your type of place.
Though the restaurant did offer traditional French food like moules-frites, I could have ordered an overly priced burger and wondered why they topped it with brie, pear, egg, bacon, and onions, instead. I ended up ordering a salad and a white chocolate, egg yolk, crème fraîche, and caviar ravioli dish, just to see what in the world that was like.
Café Tallulah offered a new, deconstructed take on the salad. The croutons were on one corner of the plate, the salad in another, and lardon (French bacon) and an egg occupied the other two corners. But the salad (and the ravioli, which tasted like a raw egg wrapped in a noodle) were extremely heavy on the egg. Though still priced moderately high, the appetizers seemed more worthwhile than the expensive, small, unexceptional entrées.
Aside from the underwhelming dishes, the atmosphere is still nice for conversation, especially if you sit at the bar. If you want a classy drink and an appetizer with a good friend or a date, this is not a bad place to go. But, if you prefer cozier restaurants that have good food for cheaper prices, you would probably have a more enjoyable evening somewhere else.
Café Tallulah is at 240 Columbus Ave. and is open every day from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.