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Tulua Bistro Review
Omar Aftab

Upon entering Tulua Bistro, a small brunch restaurant on Third Street in Jacksonville Beach, you’re immediately greeted by a theme of blue, white and gray, instantly evoking beach vibes. All around are potted plants, ranging from vines to small palm trees, and several large art pieces of cultural and political icons such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., amongst large, bright and colorful flowers. The spot, through aesthetics alone, tells you exactly how it wants you to feel: it’s a slow, late morning with nowhere to be and nothing to do but enjoy the good company with the help of some good food and drink.

On a Sunday morning it was full of people, which is to be expected for a brunch spot. Despite this, service was surprisingly fast with drinks coming in an instant and food for three in around 10 minutes. My brother and sister ordered “strawberry Nutella dream” waffles and a pancake teaser starter, respectively. I ordered the crab cake benedict served with some crisp potatoes which were served in a cute, tiny metal bucket.

My hopes were high, especially after seeing the plate, but Tulua Bistro still managed to blow me away with the flavor. The English muffin had a great balance of crunchy exterior and fluffy interior, while the crab cakes had a subtle umami to it and without the odorous fishy flavor to it, somewhat of a rarity in my experience. The eggs provided both more to chew on and some moisture, further aided by the sauce. The best part was, when nearing the end, the yolks burst and bathed the rest of the dish with flavor, transforming it into something almost new. But the potatoes made the dish. As someone from a Pakistani background , I’ve always had a bone to pick with American-style potatoes. We like our spices, so they’ve always tasted bland and mushy. These potatoes were completely different. Perfectly crispy on the outside, soft but not mushy on the inside, and loaded with salt, pepper and other seasonings that made these some of the best potatoes I’ve had in my life.

 I did, of course, taste some of my siblings’ food, strictly for journalistic purposes. The waffles were filling, and the Nutella, strawberries and cream made me re-evaluate how I’ve been making waffles my entire life. They also put the maple syrup in a dish on the side to avoid undesirable, yet all-too-common, sogginess. The same goes for the mini-pancakes, which came on little toothpick skewers with strawberries, blueberries, banana and pineapple. I never in my life would have thought pineapple goes with pancakes, but I was proven wrong. I do like pineapple on pizza though, so take this testimonial with a grain of salt. The presentation for both dishes was stunning, making it seem almost a sin to take the first bite.

All in all, I definitely recommend this place. A laid-back feel, close to the beach, beautiful interior, great service, and, to top it off, delicious and, more important, Instagram-worthy food.