Some time back, this Irish Pub opened up on Mill Avenue, just blocks from my home. I must have passed by it hundreds of times without going in. After a point it was funny that despite my Irish heritage and enjoyment of traditional Irish fare and settings I had never been in such a convenient hot spot, and I kept not going in because it was funnier for me to stay away. Zoe, too, seemed to be staying out of it for the same reason. Zoe, as you may know, has wisely selected Guinness as his beer of choice, a truly Irish experience. I have seen him on more than one occassion down an entire pint of Guinness faster than another person could drink one shot. Today we went to Rula Bula for lunch (Zoe paid for it, considering my recent loss of employment). It was delicious.
You can read more about the history of Rula Bula at their website, but believe it or not, the entire place was built in Ireland then shipped to Tempe and re-constructed. Truly Irish. The atmosphere at a late lunch on a weekday was defined almost entirely by the building, since few customers were there, and it was like stepping into a totally different place. It was very comfortable. Zoe and I began discussing that if/when Beer Club starts meeting again, Rula Bula would be an excellent place for it. You should take the opportunity if you are ever in downtown Tempe to at least step inside and get a feel for the place. More than any theme restaurant, they have a very powerful and appropriate ambiance.
Zoe began predictably with a ‘pint of the dark’ (Guinness, to those not in the know), and ordered the Shepherd’s Pie for lunch. I just had a water (my regular, as those of you in the know already know), but ordered the Irish Lamb Stew for lunch. Zoe said that the Shepherd’s Pie was some of the best he has ever eaten, and perhaps will post about the experience later. Both meals came with one of the best salads I’ve had in a restaurant – no iceberg lettuce to be seen, but romaine lettuce, spinach, and other tastier and more nutritious greens, with a light balsamic vinegarette, walnuts and other light seasonings. The lamb in my stew was unbelievably tender and the heady flavour of the lamb had seeped into the vegetables in the stew, including halved and perfectly cooked potatoes. The texture overall was very pleasing, and the meal was appropriately filling.
Not so filling that we didn’t order desert, though. Zoe and I ordered one each of their Guinness Chocolate Cake and Irish Bread pudding. The large serving size of the desserts was somewhat intimidating after our satisfying meals, but we divided each dessert and enjoyed both. The Guinness Chocolate cake was heavy, rich, and delicious. I prefer a moister cake personally, and am not a Guinness connoisseur, but Zoe indicated that it exceeded his expectations. The Irish Bread pudding was moist and well-spiced, with raisins as big and juicy as your head. Well, maybe not quite as juicy as your head. Still, the desserts were so delicious that we managed to finish them. I would definitely recommend that you try the Irish Bread Pudding; it inspired both of us to try to find/make a comparable bread pudding recipe on our own.
The lunch prices were very reasonable considering the quality of the food; everything on the menu looked delicious and the average price was about $7-8 per entree. I did not see their dinner menu, so cannot report on those prices. Our bartender/waiter indicated that their dinner portions were significantly larger (I doubt I could finish a dinner, if that is true), and that the head chef is actually Irish, a real plus and I’m sure the source of the quality of the dishes. A wonderful experience, a delicious meal, helpful staff; I definitely recommend that you check out Rula Bula.