Monday, January 05, 2009

Scholar's Inn: What to Make of This

I give you the specials for SI/Scholar's Inn in their entirety. (I thought this place was now called Sexy and Intimate?) Wasn't this all-specials-all-the-time-shortcut-food-menu the road they were going down before they closed and reopened? And I leave it to you to decide if the "Recession Menu" is better or worse than the "Twin Towers" dessert at Manhattan on the north side. From their email:

1. All Signature Martinis will be half price EVERY NIGHT!!!
2. A Select Wine list where all bottles are half price EVERY NIGHT!!!
3. We are adding new lower price menu items.
4. We will have an additional 'Recession Menu' which will have appetizers & salads for $5 and entress for no more than $12.


They are also discontinuing lunches in January.

But why all the exclamation points? If these specials are EVERY NIGHT!!! then why not just call it a price reduction/menu change? Why tout half price bottles of wine off a "select list" just so we think you're nice guys? I'd like to see a place actually just price their bottles at retail prices (which for most is about half the wine list price.) The website lists even more specials -- so many, you practically need a scorecard.

And in a *completely* unrelated note, Cory Schouten at IBJ's Property Lines reports quite a few restaurant changes downtown may be coming in this economy. Leases are expensive things.


bhorg said...

I know some former employees of SI and from what I've heard it won't be long until they go under. I thought the re-branding was sorta dumb and I would like to see something more inviting in that space.

dhonig said...

If they're half price "all the time," then isn't that the price?

braingirl said...

>bhorg. Now, now. I almost posted a note about how had discontinued their "Deathwatch" feature. But touting special after special does have kind of a "Kitchen Nightmare" vibe to it.

>dhonig. Yes. My point exactly.

we just like vegetables said...

Bad, yes. But seriously, nothing is worse than the Twin Towers dessert at Manhattan. Memorializing a national tragedy in ice cream and cake form (ensconsed in a whipped cream dust cloud, no less) is bad enough, but when the cake is as dry and flavorless as that was, it just adds insult to injury.

contact said...

Just had dinner there last night with your info of half-priced wine in my brain. When seated, we were given the regular wine menu...then had to ask about the wine specials. The gentleman returned with the special 1/2 price wine menu, and another one for martinis.

While I thought this was odd, we went on to wait for our waiter. Once there, when we mentioned wine he immediately tried to sell us on a bottle not on the 1/2 menu (which I guess I can't fault him for), but I can when he downplayed it when we asked (and with a bit of attitude)...mumbling that those were wines the GM brought in for New Years and that he hadn't even tried any...pardon?

I have to say that if you're trying to bring in customers with a new menu (be it 1/2 price or not), you need to be certain your staff is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about it. It gives a girl the feel of a BIG disconnect, and doesn’t make for the most pleasant dining experience (a waiter w/ attitude doesn't help, either).

We really want SI to be successful - the food was good and we LOVE Mass Ave, so my experience last night makes me concerned...

Friends Cook said...

It looks like SI Bakehouse in Broad Ripple has closed its doors.

Chef said...

I am currently the chef of the Scholars Inn Indianapolis and this blog and comments are truly upsetting to us as an independent restaurant. The owners and I have worked hard to create a restaurant different than any other in town. Our specials and our half priced items are an attempt to give the diners of Indianapolis a great dining experience at a great price. It seems to me that we are the only place trying to make things easy on your pocketbook. We are trying to encourage a nice night out in this economy, and doing all we can to help. I find it ridiculous with all the reports of this tough economic time that people choose to make tear apart those that are trying to make life a little better. The Scholars Inn is not closing. This is coming from a credible source and not a jaded former employee. And to the guest that recently had an unpleasant experience with our gentleman server, I apologize. Please know that he has been dealt with, and we are committed to the training and excellence of our employees.`

braingirl said...

1)So, are you saying the Broad Ripple location has not closed? If not, then you'd better check why the landlord is shopping the lease around. It's a pretty open secret that they're done.

2) There are many, many independent restaurants in town. SI is not the only one. And while specials and helping our pocketbook is one way to do it, shorting cutting menus, offering discounts on already inflated prices, and failing to train servers is a problem. (Even after all these years, front of house staff *still* throws attitude and looks and makes people with reservations wait on tables.) This can't be news to you.

Considering that the above commenter and her husband are two of the top producers of artisan/independent products in Central Indiana, it might behoove you to listen -- instead of ranting at the sky that we, customers with money who dine out often, are treating you unfairly.

Want to know how things are going for people not trying to give our pocketbooks a break? Ask Dan Dunville at Meridian (certainly not a cheap place) how he had the best December ever with nary a special in sight. (Or ask your neighbor down the street, Regina at RBistro, for that matter.)

Mitch said...

My wife and I have tried very hard to like SI. The first time we went in August of '04 we had just moved to town and had a perfect meal there in both food and friendly, prompt service. Subsequent visits have left us dissapointed every time. We have experienced all the other complaint aired on this blog from cold food, to attitude from the front of house staff and servers. The service has been very unprofessional on many occasions. Independent restaurants that execute well do just fine in Indy ala Meridian, Oakley's, RBistro. I just hope someone serious about opening a good restaurant takes over SI's space, it is such a great buildimg and location.

Jessica said...

Some rather harsh comments made towards those employed with the Scholars Inn. We have dined at the Mass Ave. location a number of times since re-opening their doors and have always had a wonderful experience. The food is truly wonderful and quite different. It does seem like they have a great deal going on, which can be difficult to take in as a guest. However, we always leave feeling very happy with the overall experience. I would appreciate a website that does try to focus on the positives, and speak of what people are trying to do right. I get that enough in the news. Indianapolis has a number of fine restaurants and in this difficult time, a kind word would help them and encourage us all to read comments made.