The Tulip Restaurant- Cocoa Village- 2 Stars
Usually, when a restaurant has been open in the same location for 36 years, it's a fairly good indicator that they are doing something right. The Black Tulip was once a staple of fine dining...my, how times have changed What was once a good value for fine dining has become a charade of a ghost that no longer exists.
Even before I entered this once center of culinary delight, I knew they weren't what they were. Right there on the front was the first indicator: drastically reduced "summer" hours (summer, in FL, that cracks me up every time). If you want to make The Big Boy's Top 5, you have to be open, with the same operating hours, year round.
I was greeted by Tanya who serves double duty as owner and hostess, which may explain her poor attitude. Maybe she was let down by an employee, maybe one of her purveyors got the order wrong, maybe the people before me needed a shower. I don't know, but it was clear she was not enjoying her work day.
After being drudgingly lead to my table near the door, I politely requested to be seated elsewhere and was denied. Tanya handed me a menu and perfunctorily left. Thinking that was rather rude, I began to read the menu. I must say that it certainly read well! It read like the fine dining place it used to be had somehow become its cooler cousin and everything was scaled down just a bit to casual fine dining. Becoming very intrigued as to how this mishmash of fine and casual would be pulled off, I anxiously awaited my steward.
I finally understood the saying, "be careful what you wish for," as the young man serving us for the evening introduced himself as Kevin and then had the temerity to say, "Hey Buddy. Whatcha havin'?" If this is what they meant by fine casual dining, I was no longer intrigued about what was going on in the kitchen, I was terrified. Be that as it may, the job must go forth and so to that end I placed an order for 1 Macallan (neat), Veal Oscar and some Escargot
For starters, I was very impressed with the barkeep, or perhaps they knew what was coming my way as the Scotch was what we like to call a long, strong pour. Enjoying the smokiness of my beverage, my eyes soon spied Kevin sauntering over with our cuisine. As he placed it on the table, I was immediately taken aback. The plated food looked hideous. However, I learned a long time ago to never judge food by looks and so reaching for my cutlery, I apprehensively dug in.
The cut of veal was fine, not great, but fine. However, it was way overcooked which gave it a texture akin to beef tongue and veal isn't suppose to chew like that. The crab meat was your typical lump crab meat from a can as were the mushrooms (just say no to the can) and all I can say about the Hollandaise sauce is that their saucier needs to be either fired immediately or sent back to sauce school. James Beard would be appalled that this goop had the impertinence to even call itself a sauce, let alone the delicate, artful French sauce known as Hollandaise. As one can see in the pictures this stuff had the texture of curdled milk (perhaps that is what happened, this sauce is one of the four required to be mastered in order for an applicant to be considered a place in a French school of culinary arts--it is not all that easy to make and can turn on you faster than an ex-girlfriend). Surprisingly, the accompanying mashed potatoes were made in-house and seasoned with just the right amount of garlic and while the vegetables were cooked to a perfect doneness, they were then smothered in the same dreadful goo as the veal. The side salad was the saving grace of the meal. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, the Caesar dressing was flavorful, delicate and not too oily and there were anchovies graceful placed on top.
The Escargot, disappointingly, was covered in the same abysmal sauce as the veal cutlet and therefore were horrendous. I was saddened by this as the snails themselves were concocted with obvious skill and attention to detail. They were masterfully cooked as was the bed of spinach next to them. All and all this just is not worth it and the grand old lady of Central Brevard needs a walker, oxygen and a pasture.
The Big Boy says, "Unless you are into faux French cuisine served with a very French attitude, don't dine here."