235 East Superior Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802-1210
Recently, the 3 Elles dined at Club Soda in celebration of Allen L's birthday. We have eaten at CS at least 4 times (though, this is only our 2nd review). We ALWAYS eat outside, but on this occasion Mother Nature would not cooperate so we ate at a high top in the bar. We have long suspected that Club Soda would not be nearly as appealing if it weren't for the outdoor atmosphere - we, were finally able to confirm that on this visit. Don't get me wrong, parts of Club Soda are fantastic and worthy of being praised; however, it's the outdoor seating that makes this restaurant the priceless gem that it is - without outdoor seating and an quasi engaged server, this place makes the list of average food at an inflated price.
The host was fantastic. It was truly down pouring and we were greeted warmly and compassionately (we were soaked!). When asked if we could sit upstairs outdoors, I was told there was a meeting, but that we could sit in the bar (our reservations were for the patio, but given the rain, that was out on this visit).
For the first round, I selected a Timotini (right). It had a good taste, but came up a bit short on alcohol. It's tropical flavor was punctuated by the beautiful orange slice garnish and cherry at the bottom. Adams L started her night off with a Chocotini (left) enhanced by the addition of raspberry vodka. This martini screams indulgence with it's chocolate drizzle and garnished with a Hershey kiss - nice touch!
Since it was a crowd-pleaser on our previous visit, we went ahead and ordered the Gouda Artichoke dip. It's generous portion size and variety of dipping breads make this a great choice for sharing with friends. Because it's a step above the basic artichoke dip, we recommend you try it. The creamy texture swimming on one of the 3 types of breads will leave you double dipping!
And would you expect for crab cakes to be on a menu and the 3 Elles NOT to order them? Of course not! We were told the menu had recently changed and the appetizer was just one crab cake (previously it was 2 and the kitchen would make them into 3 so we could more easily share). This cake was not served hot, in fact, I would say that it was slightly cooler than room temperature. To our pleasant surprise, it was still packed with huge lump meat and was very good. It had a great flavor leaning toward the sweet side thanks to all the crab goodness. The garnishes on this dish were intersting and not seen elsewhere. The white moat surrounding the fortress of deliciousness was a cucumber infused yogurt - not the most delightful pairing, but inspired nonetheless. Standing sentry atop the cake o'goodness were capers - an interesting pairing partner to say the least.
SOUPS & SALADS:
Allen L ordered Seafood Chowder as an opening act to her meal. Personally, I found it be highly foul smelling. She thought it was good and filling like comfort food. She said it warmed her tummy right up with a consistency that was pleasing - not too thick and not too seafoody ('cuz that's a word, right!).
We found their new menu a huge disappointment. It contains considerably less options than it previously had. I selected my standard CS meal - Walleye with white cheddar mashed potatoes. The potatoes are never disappointing at CS. The walleye, this time, however, left a lot to be desired. It was extremely greasy and left me sick to my stomach the rest of the night. What a shame since it has been prepared so well in the past. The bean side dish was excellent. It was cooked but not overdone so that it retained a crispness that was palate pleasing.
CS has a $5 plate sharing fee, but it enables each person to have his/her own side and for the kitchen to plate it separately for you. It's a great deal and worth it. Allen L and Adams L shared the Prime Rib Special prepared with a rosemary sherry horseradish sauce. They felt the steak was exceptionally prepared. They said it wasn't chewy or dry. Adams L paired hers with a coconut scallion rice. She said it lived up to the name as she could actually see and taste the coconut. She said it was pretty good and a great choice if you are looking for something different.
Allen L opted for the white cheddar mashed spuds. Another advantage to the $5 plate sharing charge is that each of the Elles had their steaks prepared to a different degree. Both agreed with me that the beans were fantastic!!!
The CS dessert tray could benefit from a reinvention. After 4 visits, we it is played out. It could benefit from a seasonal special or a complete overhaul. The desserts were not that fantastic the first time let alone the 4th time - why we keep speding the money and wasting the calories, I'm not sure. Adams L and I shared a Snickers pie. It was ok, but far from outstanding! The Snickers candy bar was too finely chopped leaving it have an odd consistency. The pie suffered from a grainy texture from being too frozen rather than being served at the optimal temperature. A true disappointing way to end our meal (p.s. who garnishes a candy bar pie with an orange slice???? ODD!)
What a shocker that Allen L ordered Key Lime Pie - her fav!!!!! It arrived with a beautiful presentation which included a candle for the birthday girl - nice touch. The party girl received her dessert free compliments of the restaurant which was very special. She said it was very creamy and good. She said it did not contain the same authentically lime taste as Paula's key lime pie, but that it was still good enough that she wasn't able to tell whether it was homemade or not. She enjoyed the almonds in the crust and said they were kind of like finding a fun prize.
Our server was Cassandra. She was able to answer our questions and keep our water glasses filled without having to ask. She came from Red Lobster and brings the same air to CS as she had at RL - noticeably lacking in sophistication. She was completely unengaged in our evening - she was uninterested in small talk and seemed to have a clear time schedule in her head of the pacing that our evening should go . . . .needless to say, our time line wasn't exactly in line with hers. When I attempted to tell her about this blog and provided her with a 3 Elles business card, I was ignored. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the worst service we ever had - it was just not the best either. The 3 Elles have learned that exceptional service can definitely make an otherwise acceptable evening into a fantastic evening or can really take a fantastic evening straight down the toilet.
Enjoy an evening out at CS, but reserve an table on the patio and ask for a great server. Enjoy a cocktail and take in the atmosphere. Share a steak meal and skip dessert.
Until the next bite -