Saturday, July 29, 2006

So-So Soleil

Given the so-so reviews and meals so far at the Conrad's Restaurant Du Soleil, I've just about written it off. It's OK for a hotel eatery, but not really that great compared to some of the same-price options downtown. But in honor of restaurant week, we decided to give it one more try. Since Jonathan Wright left, I'd been wondering how it was and my friend hadn't eaten dinner there yet. We figured it was worth $30 a person.

There isn't that much to review about the food. It was OK. Just that. Not spectacular, but just fine. It was good -- cooked well -- and the desert was kind of unique (I'm a sucker for pot du creme) but it was merely fine. Frankly, it was unmemorable. I couldn't even quite remember the menu when I got home to write it down. There was salmon or some other fish, I think. Honestly, I think Du Soleil's problem is what it is -- and what it isn't. It's not supposed to be a high-end cushy velvet room restaurant and yet, that's exactly what most people think they're getting. I'm not sure Indianapolis is ready for a French bistro with St. Elmo's prices.

Restaurant Du Soleil is a casual place. The room is big and slightly informal with the tile floors and zinc bar. The outfits the hostesses wear are very French. We had few comments good or bad. Our comments:

It's noisy. We were seated next to a group of 10 or 12 people. We could hear every word of all four of their conversations. There's nothing in the room to dampen noise -- no carpets, soft wall covers or heavy curtains. If you want to have a private conversation, just be prepared to ask for a table in a corner

The service isn't terrible, but it's not polished either. The servers all seemed very new. We didn't have any problems with the timing of our meal as I've heard others say, but our wine was a near disaster. (Hint to server, if the bartender gives you the $21 glass of cabernet your table has just ordered in a white wine glass, ask him to get it right.) My companion's tasting glass was filled with bits of corky crumble and her pricey cabernet arrived in a very straight chardonnay glass. Once it was served correctly, it was fine.

Making reservations was an ordeal. When you call to request a table, be prepared to relinquish every detail except your SSN and credit card number. Many new restaurants are using robust customer tracking systems so they can capture every bit of your information including your likes and dislikes. However, most don't ask for your address and two phone numbers. More irritating was calling nearly a week in advance and being told our only option for a two-top was an 8:30 seating. When we arrived the restaurant was half empty.

Otherwise, it was fine. Adequate. Probably safe (unlike the seafood salad on the lunch buffet). You know, so-so.

No comments: