Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First visit - Tulip Noir

Well, this will be my first negative review of anything. But, we first need to put this in perspective. I am pretty sure that the good folks at Tulip Noir have no interest in ever being considered "grub". But, while I had a less than satisfactory experience there, my complaint really isn't with the quality and taste of the food, it was more with the service.

This was our 2nd attempt at visiting Tulip Noir. The first time, the Better Half and I had arrived at 12:55 on a Saturday. Now, see, the problem is that they close at 1:00 p.m. Obviously, there was no interest in winning over a new customer, because we were told that it was too late to serve anyone, even though there were clearly still several people eating their meals. Since we had such slow service this past Sunday, maybe the staff knew that even though we'd be seated before 1:00, there was no chance they'd actually take our order in a timely fashion so they sent us away. Maybe, too, Tulip Noir has so taken to heart the proclamation that they are the "best brunch in Indy" (on the banner above their signage) that they felt no need to win us over.

Nevertheless, we had some friends visiting, and we decided to go for brunch somewhere new. Now, this restaurant is loud. And, that is fine. Loud can be inviting in many ways. The seating in the restaurant is kind of difficult, because there is a partition between the main dining area and the entrance. In that front area they do have up to 5 small two person tables that they can arrange for customers. We asked for a table for 4, and the group of 11 that had been in the front area weas leaving, so we were to have a table in just a few minutes. I asked if we could be separated and placed at the far part of the front area, away from the door and those waiting. But, the young lady said no, that would be difficult because they also had a group of 7 coming. Now, I'm still not sure what the issue was, because you can separate tables any way you like, and whether the 4 are at one end or the 7, you still ultimately just divide it about the same. So, we were place right next to the door, with the crowds who were waiting for a table. The Better Half is quite petite, and we mostly wanted away from the door so she wouldn't be cold from the door opening and closing, but our request did not matter. We 4 had been there waiting, but this was a situation where the first shall be last, and as they were arranging the tables, one person form the party of 7 arrived (they called in) and that group was seated as we waited and watched. Finally, we seated ourselves because the wait staff continued it's focus on these seven and left the table for 4 cleaned but not set for guests.

After being seated and provided menus, it took almost 5 full minutes for a wait staff member to come to us and ask for drinks. This trend of infrequent notice from the wait staff remained true for our whole visit. The water at Tulip Noir comes with cucumber slices, not with lemon. That is fine, though I do not like cucumber. But, since we did not have much attention from the wait staff, for some reason our table was never provided with a decanter of water, so my 8 ounce tumbler was left without refilling till late in our meal.

So, maybe these are all trifling matters, but they add up in your first experience, and it led to a poor feeling about our visit.

What about the food? It was well prepared and tasty. Was it good grub? No, it failed miserably at that. They offer very small portions at Tulip Noir. I have a big appetite, so I typically finish my plate. But, again, the Better Half is petite, and she completely finished her meal. Of the 4 of us, no one had anything remaining except for a little salad on my plate. But, even the salad was, for me, a point of annoyance. I ordered the special, which was curried vegetables and 2 eggs with whole wheat naan. But, instead of naan I received salad. Maybe I looked constipated? But, there was no explanation upon ordering or receiving our food why I received something that was not part of the menu description.

Better half had the veggie quesadilla, and it seemed tasty, but something that you could have gotten at the Abbey coffeehouse for a lot less money back when it was open. The curried vegetables were tasty, but it was about a cup full of potatoes, onions, broccoli and what I believe was green lentils. Yes, tasty. Not particularly filling. And, for $12, I thought it was a terrible value. I mean, lentils are not expensive. Be a little more generous, folks. At least at any of the Patachou's you get their toast, so you can always fill up on that.

And, not enough pig on the menu for my liking! Sure a few items included prosciutto, but I think I only saw bacon with one item. Brunch NEEDS bacon.

Anyhow, again, it was tasty, but not filling and I felt a very poor value. The Better Half really enjoyed it, though, and I'm sure she'll want to go back. Can I take the fellas here for some good grub before a Colts game, after golf,... um.. anytime? No. Wouldn't even consider it.

But, the day was not a total loss. Upon leaving, we stopped a few doors down and popped in to Babushka's Deli. It's a great stop. I've mostly only picked up some chocolates there, but is a fun little shop that you should visit sometime. We need to go back when we're headed home afterwards and try some of their frozen pierogies.

The verdict: 2 belly rubs (out of 5). Tasty, but not filling, and not a good value.

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