Reviews written by william_james

Registered on Feb 22 08

Ratatouille in Eugene, Oregon
Feb 22 08

rating star

This restaurant fell very short of the expectations of the group of us who had dinner there tonight. While three of the four dinners were certainly tasty, one was very much not and was misleadingly described on the menu. The problem dish was the first listed under main courses, which I believe had the title of "Roasted vegetables." The first ingredient mentioned in the description on the menu is polenta, and by the wording, one is led to believe that it will be the centerpiece of the dish - the veggies will appear atop and/or around it. Distracted by our own conversation, it occurred to us late into eating the dish that the polenta had apparently not been included. We notified our server, who went to confer with the chef. We overheard their exchange, and the chef was insistent that we were wrong. When the server came back, she explained that the polenta comes in the form of porridge and that "it's hard to tell that it's polenta." As startling as that was, we supposed this would be okay, if only this were detailed on the menu. Otherwise, one is led to the very natural assumption that something solid resembling polenta will show up on one's plate. As it is, we still didn't taste anything resembling polenta, even if in liquid form. This could be because of the very strong goat-milky taste of the feta sauce used in the plate. A subtle clue as to this feature of the sauce might have been nice, too, though we understood that feta in higher end places tends to be of this quality. Still, these issues plagued that dish and we would not order it again.

Speaking of this being a higher end place, we were rather surprised by the manner in which we were spoken to, given the intended atmosphere. When informed that we were wrong about the polenta, the news was not given to us gently. We were wrong, and that was that. Even a phony "I'm sorry, but..." would have been appreciated. We are not high brow people, but we expect a little more classiness at a restaurant that purports to be a little more classy than the average dine-in establishment.

Moreover, service was somewhat slow, as we had read in other reviews (definitely set a good amount of time aside if you choose to dine here). This was especially surprising, though, considering the fact that at no time that we were there were there more than two other parties (this was a Thursday night). Good food takes time, of course - and for the most part, the food was good. Yet we waited an eternity to be asked if we would like more bread, for instance, and both servings our table had were mundane and not fresh.

Another problem is what appeared to be their lack of beer. The wine menu features several wines and a couple of cider selections, but we had no indication at all that they had beer there. As we were readying our payment, however, we saw that a patron at the table nearest us had a beer. We then scoured the place and found a tap back behind the counter where they have an espresso machine. We would have most preferred having beer this evening, so not being made aware of their actually having it, and then finding that out, was a big disappointment. The availability of beer needs to be on the alcohol menu or at least told to patrons by the server.

There are good things to be said: the environment is nice, the music was soothing, the place was quite clean, three of our four plates were delicious and the servings were plentiful. But for the money we paid ($15-22 per entree), we were extremely underwhelmed. There are plenty of other places in Eugene for fine dining, and plenty of other places in Eugene for high quality vegetarian/vegan food; go with those and skip this unsuccessful attempt at combining the two.