By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
On July 30, one of the area's premier eating establishments, LuLu's Oceanside Grill, will celebrate its Quinquennial Anniversary. In the five years since this popular restaurant first opened its doors, LuLu's has made an indelible impression, both on locals and visitors alike. And its easy to see why: The food. The ambience. The comraderie.
Conveniently located near the intersection of Granada Boulevard and A1A, LuLu's is a great choice for excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere. And it all begins as soon as you walk through the double doors.
Just inside is the hostess station, where guests are immediately welcomed. To the left of the station is an open bar and lounge with a number of unique seating arrangements. On one side of the lounge is a span of glass windows that offers a view of the ample-sized patio where, along with the fresh air, customers can enjoy their favorite food or drink. To the right of the station is a short walkway that leads to both the dining area and the outdoor patio.
When my guest and I arrived at LuLu's, we were greeted by the managing partner/owner, Jeff Bartholomew, who then escorted us to a large comfortable booth. A short time later, owner Ron DeFilippo came to our table, greeted us warmly and, after a moment, gave us a spontaneous tour of the the restaurant's interior.
Beginning with the back dining room, Mr. DeFilippo pointed out that it can accommodate 60 to 70 people, and that "it's a private room, perfect for parties." The center room has mostly booths - four-seaters and six-seaters, each with a view of the outdoors. A third dining room rounds out LuLu's total seating capacity of 200. But the main attraction is the décor. Gracing the walls of each room are huge posters of "beauties in bathing suits" from the '40s and '50s, plus several old movie posters, many having a beach-fun theme. The poster collection is accompanied by other collectibles as well, including an upright coke machine and a hot-red bumper car, both of which add to the casual and nostalgic dining environment.
With our tour over, my guest and I returned to our booth where two "happy hour" glasses of 'Barefoot' Chardonnay awaited us. Our server, Megan, then brought us menus. With so many taste-tempting selections, it was hard to decide - but we finally broke it down to a near-feast. We started with an appetizer, the Hummus plate with tomato and spinach pesto, goat cheese and ciabatta bread. Delicious! Next came soup or salad. While I was in the mood for the spring-mix salad, my guest chose the homemade clam chowder -- a rich and creamy delight that both of us sampled with gusto. Wonderful!
Then came time for the entree. Would it be Wok Lobster & Shrimp, Roasted Garlic Sirloin, Mediterranean Chicken, Island Mixed Grill, Tuscan Seafood Stew? Or one of the other hard-to-choose-from selections.
In the meantime, and in between courses, we were introduced to Chef Sylvia Kerry. With 15 years in the food business, and as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she was more than willing to answer any questions we had about the entrees she creates.
Soon after, we were ready to order. My guest had deliberated between the Roasted Garlic Sirloin and the Mediterranean Chicken. The latter won out - "grilled chicken breast topped with goat cheese, served over artichoke hearts and sundried tomato orzo in a lemon cream sauce." I zeroed in on Wok Lobster & Shrimp - "stir fried lobster, Gulf shrimp and julienne vegetables in a coconut-curry sauce served over rice." Both were excellent and beautifully presented.
But it wasn't over yet. Just when we thought we were full, Megan returned with an array of mouth-watering treats --- Chocolate Turene (a raspberry parfait layered with milk and dark chocolate), Tiramisu Crème Brulee and Strawberry Shortcake -oh so decadent, and soooo delicious. A perfect ending to an exceptional meal.
Of course LuLu's doesn't stop with dinner selections. They also offer daily lunch specials, Monday - Friday until 4 p.m.; Happy Hour, Monday - Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m., then 9:30 p.m. to midnight; and Sunday Brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brunch specialties include a Crab Oscar Omelet, Shrimp & Grits and Hawaiian French Toast --- plus $4 mimosas and $5 mary's all day!
As part of their Fifth Anniversary Celebration, and in keeping with the 'beach theme,' Lulu's is having a 'vintage bathing suit contest,' open to all ages. The fun begins at 8 p.m., July 28.
LuLu's. A place that will keep you coming back again and again.
LuLu's Oceanside Grill is located at 30 S. Atlantic Avenue in Ormond Beach, directly behind CVS Pharmacy. Hours are Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday Brunch, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone: (386) 673-2641.