Bourbon Street Hideaway

135 W. Columbia Street
Fort Wayne, IN

A charming subterranean restaurant that literally transports patrons straight to the Crescent City!  If you are looking for something different - this is the place for you.  Descending the stone stairs into the low ceiling, low lighted, stone walled cavern enters you into Cajun land for sure.  Between the wall decor, the New Orleans jazz music piped throughout the restaurant (a little too loudly), the beads on the table, and Cajun smells drifting from the kitchen- diners are definitely enveloped by a full sensory experience. 

The restaurant is so dark, we didn't know the baby was in the mouth of the gator until we looked at this photo.

Water fountain in the corner - interesting!

The inside of the menu - doesn't it scream NOLA with it's colorful design.

The restaurant's door clearly says the restaurant opens at 5:00 (fyi, that doesn't mean 4:55), I waited on the street being passed by many pedestrians that made me feel somewhat unsafe.  Really don't know why my 5:00 reservation couldn't allow the door to be opened at 4:55, but it wasn't.  When the bartender ascended the stairs to unlock the door, she made no eye contact, no smile, no verbal greeting - boy, did I feel like she was happy I/we were there!  When we descended the stairs a minute later, we were greeted equally indifferently even somewhat rudely.  I seriously cannot understand how that can be acceptable behavior in this day in age especially in a city where there is a LOT of competition for patron's money.  Really everyone? Come on - let's start valuing and welcoming patrons from the very first second they arrive.  It's not hard to do - smile and say "Hi" that's all that's required!

There are some delicious options at BSH - Adams L started off with the evening's special, Strawberry Lemondrop.  YUM!  This tasted exactly like pink lemondade - wow, it was remarkable.  It is served in a frosted glass complimented with a lemon wedge and a sugar rim.  To quote Adams L, "OH MY GOSH, YUM!"

 I started with a Blue Ocean - skip this one.  It was NOT good.  I really did not enjoy it.  I drank it quickly so I could move on to something better.  It would not be classified as a "stiff" drink - it was more for show with it's beautiful blue color which was off set with a beautiful orange slice.  Really a disappointment, sigh!

 Allen L broke with tradition and ordered something other than a martini - GASP!  She selected a Bourbon Street Hurricane - just look at it - doesn't it SCREAM summer goodness!!!!!  Oh my goodness - run, don't walk to the BSH to get this drink!!!  It's adult fruit punch with an attitude.  The fruity combination topped with a beautiful orange and cherry garnish was absolute bliss!  Yes, this IS THE DRINK TO ORDER!  WOOOOOO, party at our table!

Adams L is known for taking risks when it comes to appetizers.  She sometimes jumps in with both feet and we never really know how it will pan out. . . . score one for her on this selection.  We shared the Royal Street Cajun Flatbread appetizer.  Seriously, all you need to know is that this is AWESOME!  You absolutely must try this one.  The crispy outside and softer inside is topped with cheese, shredded chicken, and a creamy sauce that is what taste buds dream about. 

As you can see, it was so good a slice was eaten even before I could snap a pix.

Although the bread tastes homemade and features a crusty exterior protective shell surrounding the soft inside goodness.  The bread is perfect and delicious - too bad it's one of the few things not made on-site.

Each of us selected the House Salad.  It features pickeled red onions, golden raisins, spiced pecans, and is tossed together with a sherry herb vinigrette dressing which is oily and not very tasty.  This salad was not what we were expecting.  It has been about 2 years since we were last at BSH and we remember the salad being over the top delicious.  This was "just a salad".  If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see it's mostly lettuce with 2 thin red onion rings, 4 golden raisins, and enough pecan pieces to make half of a pecan.  We were truly disappointed in the "cheapness" of the salad during this visit. 

Adams L got a cup of Gumbo with her meal.  It was thick and almost could be eaten with a fork.  The flavors played together perfectly like children at recess.  The gumbo was delicious.  She said that the large shrimp pieces, chunky cheese, and peppers were all well prepared together.  To her surprise, the bottom of the cup was lined with rice - kind of like finding buried treasure.

Allen L had long been excited to return to BSH so she could enjoy the Cognac Shrimp Bisque.  To her disappointment the soup did not live up to her expectations.  It had "lots and lots" of shells that she was constantly picking out of her mouth - truly bothersome.  The little pieces of shrimp paired with the base to create a different tasting type of soup.  She recommends that you not head straight over to BSH just to get this soup. 

 All 3 of us ordered from the 3 course meal menu for $21.95.  Despite our server's honest comments about the dish, Allen L and I opted for the crab stuffed shrimp anyway.  There was a LOT of crab meat - way more crab than shrimp.  The mushy and bland crab stuffing was plentiful, but boring.  The shrimp were served atop canned corn - lots of it.  The corn was drowning in a spicy sauce that kept it interesting.  Allen L said if you are looking for something different, then this is the dish for you. 

Adams L selected the Scallops with Spinach Au Gratin for her entree.  She said it was served in a light creamy sauce.  She was very disappointed in the trace amount of spinach that came with the dish especially since "spinach" was in the title of the entree. The meal was paired with a side of Cajun rice.  It was a large portion and a good blend of white and wild rice. 

Because we have longed for the absolutely delicious Jambalaya.  We have talked about how amazing it was during our previous visit and definitely wanted to have it on this visit.  It too has changed from our previous visit.  Although it wasn't disappointing, it was not quite as we expected it.  The shredded chicken was tough and extremely chewy.  The Andouille sausage was there, but didn't pack a powerful punch as one would expect.  The dish was topped with 4 large shrimp which were good, but also, not loaded with the flavor you would expect for such a dish. 

Because we ordered from the 3 course meal, desserts were included.  Adams L chose the Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle.  As expected, the sweet potatoes were grainy and of course, not as sweet as regular pecan pie.  Adams L said it was easy to eat at the end of the meal.  She said the caramel was a deluxe addition and really sweetened it up. 

I selected the Chocolate Mint Pie.  It was beautifully presented with the puff of whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and bits of crushed Andes mints thrown about.  It is much richer and much thicker than one would expect.  It was more like a cheesecake than a mouse.  It did contain deep embedded flavors that made every bit indulgent. 

Shocker, Allen L chose the Creme Brule, naturally!   This was unique in that it was a Praline version.  Ohhhh and was it delicious!  It almost had a hint of chocolate flavor.  The homemade Praline was sinfully delicious as the sugar melted in your mouth.  Allen L said that as she enjoyed each bite, the heavy cream flavor coated her lips and tongue.  She said it was heavenly.  This photo also shows the unique and charming table decorations of beads and mini lanterns. 

Although the bartender, Bristol, was a talented mixologist, she was the unfriendly greeter.  I was pleased that our contact with her negativity was limited.  Our server, Stacey, was very good.  She was cheerful and knowledgeable.  She was attentive and made our evening enjoyable. 

I only have a couple of comments about the restroom.  The restaurant went to great stakes to create an ambiance and vibe that oozed NOLA; however, in the ladies' room, you will find taped up calendar pictures that have taped on captions.  Really?  You charge $18 for Jambalya and you're going to tape on captions to the calendar photos  . . . glue stick?  cheap frames?  Really?  Come on!!!!!  SCREAMS CHEAP!!!!!!!! What corners are you cutting in the kitchen????? 

All in all, we feel this restaurant is a good choice for a fun evening away.  There is no doubt, you'll forget about the weather and the life's stresses happening in the city above.  This is an escape and that is the value this eatery brings to the dining scene. 

Until the next bite - 

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Club Soda - bday bash

 235 East Superior Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802-1210
(260) 426-3442

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!

 The birthday girl, Allen L, opted to start the party with a Lemon drop.  This overly tart martini was only palatable because of the sugar rim.  Probably not going to be on our re-order list.  Doesn't it make you pucker just looking at it?

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. 

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!).

Adams L and I had the Spinach salad which is always delicious.  The highlights are the candied pecans and freshly sliced strawberries. The conservative amount of feta make this a basic salad.  The red onions strong arm the unobtrusive flavors of the strawberry vinaigrette dressing.  

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 -
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