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Talula-Place for Good Food

January 4, 2009

I’ve ventured to the near east side on 2 recent occasions to try dinner at the recently opened “Talula” in the site of the old CJ’s restaurant off of Cottage Grove Road (802 Atlas Avenue).   In between the the closing of CJ’s with it’s tudor exterior and the opening of Talula, Mexican restaurant of the Dells, Mexicali Rose tried to make a go of it in this space.  The only remaining artifact of this failed attempt was that they painted the building a bright pink with green trim (I guess it was probably rose color vs. pink).  Anyway, this is now a very distinctive building amongst the more industrial setting of Atlas Avenue.

My first visit was with a dear friend the night of my birthday, December 23.  Upon entering it was clear that not much had changed with the decor from the CJ’s days.  That’s OK with me as it gives the place a sort of laid back charm.  There is the addition of interesting artwork and it seems as if the owner’s are committed to allowing local artists a chance to show their stuff on the walls of the restaurant.  Again feeding in to the laid back charm in my opinion.

The staff is very friendly.  The bar area is huge.  There is live music on many nights of the week and even a “trivia” night on Tuesdays.  (see the pattern of laid back here?)

The menu is interesting.  Recently Talula got rave reviews as 2008 best for it’s pasta dish, by the Capitol Times. But the menu is varied.  It runs the gamut from some very interesting appetizers (spicy edamame, fresh guacamole with chips) to a great burger menu.  On Friday’s they serve a fish fry with choice of Ocean Perch or Haddock.  Both very good and very popular.  They have also won a great review by MadisonFishFry.com.

This past Friday a number of folks in our dining group chose the entree size salads and each one was a great choice for it’s freshness and creativity.  I’m a fan of the jalapeno vinaigrette dressing that comes as one of the many home made salad dressing choices Talula offers.  Besides the great pasta entree they also offer a great choice of additional entree meals.  All so far have been very good.

Haven’t tried the desserts yet but I’m sure on a future visit we will. 

This is a not to be overlooked dining destination on the near east side of Madison.  For friendly staff, a laid back atmosphere, a great bar and a wonderful menu, Talula is a winner.

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