The instant you walk into Lulu Bar at 510 17 Ave SW, you know you’re in for something special.
The inviting scent of a wood fire oven wafts through a gorgeous space bathed in sunlight. Designed by Frank Architecture, warm wood and soft curves are given form and structure with white tile, pipe, brass and enormous glass garage-style doors that will usher in warm summer breezes during patio season. Live plants proliferate the space and bring an organic elegance reminiscent of the ’70s in a very modern context.
We began with a Hot Dog Bao on server Emily’s recommendation. She did well by us. With the bao made especially for Lulu by the Chinese Cultural Centre, this weird and wonderful snack is visually audacious with bold reds and greens and does not disappoint in flavour and texture. With a house-made hot dog, pickled mustard greens, banana ketchup and peanut, it’s chewy and tangy and a little bit crunchy with notes that hit the whole mouth. Yet, it’s still a hot dog. A really, really great hot dog. We could have had eight. But we had more work to do.
Next, was the mochiko fried chicken served with a pickled bean salad. This dish brings the best of sweet and tangy. Mochiko is a sticky Japanese rice flour that gives the dish a not-quite-crispy, not-quite-chewy mouthfeel that pairs perfectly with those crunchy beans. Served on a bed of sticky rice with a side of sesame buttermilk, it wasn’t long before we had it gone.
It’s a good thing, because the Beretta Farms grilled beef bavette was on its way. It arrived in a marble swirl of tamarind sauce and oil and heaped with greens. The steak was a perfect medium rare, textured, flavourful and filling. If we had one issue, we’d have liked more leafy greens and a little less cilantro in the herb salad.
With not a lot of room left for dessert, Emily suggested Lulu’s pastry chef Katelin Bland’s own sesame snaps – a grown-up take on the grocery store till staple. Like beautiful little pieces of sesame stained glass, sweet floral notes of the honey are sent soaring by the bitter base of dark chocolate. The skiff of salt completes the treat with a mouthwatering finish.
With so much more left to explore on this menu, we’ll be back to Lulu. Next time, we’ll come later in the day so as to sample some of the whimsically packaged tiki cocktails like the Bobcat or King Kona.