Bula World Cuisine
Restaurant Closed - Chef Boyle opened Salt: A Gastropub
134 Spring Street
Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey
By The Artful Diner
June 30, 2008
As many dedicated foodies are undoubtedly aware, Bula World Cuisine
was originally owned by Bradley & Laurie Boyle, who later sold the
restaurant and moved down Route 206 to open Salt: A Gastropub in Byram.
Fortunately, under the proprietorship of Jackie & Ed Conrey, Bula is
back on the culinary radar screen.
And the restaurant remains as "funky" as ever -- in the best sense
of the word -- still looking like it would be infinitely more at home in
Greenwich Village rather than tucked away on the quiet main drag of the Sussex
County seat. And I think that the current owners were wise enough not to mess
with success, as the eclectic décor, Saturday night live jazz, and the
globe-trotting cuisine emanating from the bustling open kitchen have remained
quite similar to Bula's previous incarnation.
Chris Priest is now the power behind the stove, and not only has he
recreated a number of Mr. Boyle's original outstanding recipes, but also added
some intriguing culinary wrinkles of his own. And, also like his predecessor,
Mr. Priest has been extremely judicious in mapping out his ports of call. The
menu remains compact, selective, and discriminating... as do his choice of
ingredients. There's just enough going on to engage the eye and the palate
without overwhelming them.
One of my favorite appetizers from the previous administration, the
Gorgonzola crisp ($8.00), thankfully, has been reincarnated. Perfectly grilled
tortilla triangles are crowned with melted Gorgonzola cheese and sweet onion
jam. These, in turn, are set on a pillow of olive salad. The presentation is
simple yet seductive, completely engaging the diner's senses in a delicious
interplay of colors, tastes, and textures.
Another first-rate makeover is the "Westpark Salad" ($8.00; with
chicken, $13.00; with steak or shrimp, $14.00). Pristinely fresh and obviously
freshly tossed baby greens are adorned with a tiara of julienne apples and
sprinkling of pecans & crumbled bleu cheese. The only variation from the
original recipe is the addition of a subtle bleu cheese vinaigrette rather than
the inceptive Champagne vinaigrette.
The Asian pot stickers ($6.00) also have a great deal to offer. The texture
of the four diminutive dumplings is just right -- silky but still firm to the
bite -- and the interior consists of morsels of pan seared chicken and tender
vegetables. Consummatory touches include a splash of Asian spices and an exotic
Entrées, of course, have their own cosmopolitan rewards. The Kingston
scallops ($24.00) are beautifully pan seared, rich and meaty, and are set on a
seabed of baby spinach and accompanied by smoky lardons and an evocative
Jamaican lime butter. And the Balbriggan salmon ($24.00) -- named after a small
town in north county Dublin, Ireland -- is yet another treat for seafood
lovers. The filet is encrusted with crumbles of pecans, pan seared to a golden
brown, and finds an intriguing point/counterpoint in a sauce of sweet malt
vinegar, wilted baby spinach, and delightfully creamy Parmesan asparagus
At the carnivorous end of the spectrum, I found the Louisiana strip ($22.00)
to be immensely flavorful but still remarkably tender. The steak was cooked to
a perfect compromise between medium and medium rare with Creole spices
providing just enough heat to tease the palate. Lusciously lumpy garlic mashed
potatoes proved a most suitable accompaniment... ditto freshly sautéed yellow
& zucchini squash enlivened with strips of red pepper.
In the pasta department, the angel hair is teamed with spring tomato,
seasonal vegetables, toasted pignoli nuts, and gently tossed with garlic and
olive oil ($13.00; with chicken, $18.00; with shrimp, $19.00). The Bula
gnocchi ($13.00; with chicken, $18.00; with shrimp, $19.00) is companioned by
fresh asparagus and a sensuous roasted pepper basil cream sauce and tiara of
pristinely crunchy crustaceans. Both are highly recommended.
Even the lowly fowl is an unmitigated treat. The "Chicken la
Bampa" ($17.00) is a boneless breast embraced by a golden brown spicy
cornmeal crust and embellished with a fresh tomato salsa and fiery hot sauce.
Once again, as with the aforementioned Louisiana strip, the spice is applied
judiciously; there's just enough heat to hold your interest without causing any
permanent peristaltic damage.
There is absolutely no question that appetizers and entrées are very good
across the board; they demonstrate considerable care in both preparation and
presentation. Desserts, however, are something of a low point. Only the
chocolate cake ($6.00 and the cheesecake ($5.00) are made in-house, the former
was certainly acceptable, but the latter was exceedingly dense; not exactly as
hard as a rock, but close enough to give one pause.
Service is also something of an issue. Leon, our server at lunch was personable,
enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and basically right on the case. But the young
woman who took care of us one evening seemed a bit out of it. And this was
somewhat difficult to fathom, especially since she mentioned that she had
worked at the restaurant during its previous incarnation. Maybe it was just an
My overall opinion of Bula? Desserts notwithstanding, I freely
confess that I remain a loyal and devoted fan. Kudos to proprietors Jackie
& Ed Conrey and executive chef Chris Priest. The administration may have
changed, but this restaurant remains as recommendable as ever.
Hours: Lunch: Tues - Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.; Dinner, Tues - Thurs,
5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.; CLOSED SUNDAY
Credit Cards: MC, V
Reservations: Recommended for dinner on weekends
Parking: Street parking; nearby municipal lots
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
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