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Jimbo | Aug 14, 200309:25 AM     4

At last a San Francisco restaurant doing creative things with Indian food/spices. Talulla in the heart of the Castro [18th& Diamond] opened a couple of months ago and I finally visited last night. For years I've wished that we had even one restaurant like Tabla or Tamarind in NYC or any of a half-dozen places in London that do creative, non-traditional things with Indian-based cooking. Talulla is not as "elegant" [or as upmarket $$$] as those places but is a pretty three-story place with delightful food and good service.There's a lower level bar, a dimly lit mezzanine and two upper-level dining rooms. We were seated in the mezzinine, but would angle for the upper-level rooms in the future since we prefer seeing what we're eating over "romantic ambience". We had a house salad-jicama based with little toasted Indian squigglies etc, two entrees- Tandoori squab w/papaya salad and a great veal shank with a rich cardomany sauce, and an almond cake with kulfti. With a mango lassi and pot of tea, we got out for a little less than $50. There's an extensive wine and wine-by-the-glass selection and lots of cocktail concoctions and a selection of "gourmet teas". Portions are smaller rather than larger and most entree choices come without rice/naan etc. to soak up the great sauces, and while available, we didn't see such on the menu [though they may have been there.] The menu lists Appetizers, Chaats, Tandoori, and Chollas [sautes] with a separate dessert/tea menu. While not a "destination" restaurant, it is a greatly needed [at least by me!]addition to the SF restaurant scene. If your interest in Indian food, extends beyond, all-you-can-eat buffets, chaat houses, and Naan and Curry/ Shalimar places [all of which I've been known to frequent!] Talulla is worth a try...

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