A few blocks away from the occasional madness of Tates Creek Road lies a little pocket of small town Americana on Romany Road. It’s the type of place where the small storefronts feel like they have been there forever because they probably have.
For a restaurant to succeed in a place like this, you have to give its diners a place they feel comfortable. You have to be personable. And, most importantly, you have to care and offer something they can appreciate.
For the past two-and-a-half years, The Tulip Bistro & Bar has woven itself into the fabric of this area by doing exactly that—and a little bit extra.
The Tulip Bistro & Bar sits right next to popular casual dining establishment Suggin’s. At first glance, Tulip, with its decorative patio and “bistro” in its namesake, would seem like a bit of culinary counter programming. You would only be partly right.
What comes out of the kitchen courtesy of chef Spencer van den Dool, formerly of Midway’s sorely missed dining spot The Black Tulip, is modern American with a touch of French and other influences. The decor, with its dark wood tables and booths, deep red walls, cozy bar and artwork that splits the difference between horse racing and floral prints, certainly doesn’t look like your typical bistro.
You’ll find plenty of solid options to get your meal started, particularly the restaurant’s popular sausage crostinis, with robust local sausage from Vito’s, homemade marinara, fresh mozzarella (with a welcome bit of Gorgonzola snuck in) and basil pesto on toast points. Some of Tulip’s most popular items revolve around fresh seafood, and its fresh oysters are a great sight. You can get them served raw but if you decide on a different preparation, the creamy and smoky Rockefeller, the simple grilled version with a bit of butter, or the gratin style are all pretty stellar.
The Tulip has a section of “lighter fare” containing some gourmet burgers, sandwiches and some well-received fish and chips. But, why go “light” and miss out on a hearty plate of beef short ribs, which are tender, full of flavor and are accompanied by roasted potatoes with a hint of yellow curry and al dente haricot vert. After a dish like that, a heavy dessert may not seem fathomable, which makes the restaurant’s signature Tulip Cup, with fresh whipped cream and ripe blueberries, blackberries and raspberries served in a thin cookie cup, a refreshing and lighter indulgence.
The food and atmosphere of Tulip are certainly pleasure enough, but it’s the extra 10 percent, courtesy of people like general manager Shawn Deakins, that makes it special. He loves to see new guests but loves walking into a restaurant frequently occupied by loyal and familiar faces. And whether he does a typical Twitter blast to give followers a heads up on a fresh batch of short rib chili or an atypical gesture like calling valued regulars personally to tell them about a duck special, it appears to be paying off.
The Tulip Bistro & Bar has already been warmly welcomed to the Romany Road neighbor- hood. Now, there’s no reason for the rest of Lexington not to give that area a bit more diner traffic.
859.367.6687 | 355 Romany Road | thetulipbistroandbar.com