1502 Illinois Road South
Fort Wayne, IN 46804-1220
It has been more than a year since we had visited Eddie Merlot's so we were longing to return to one of our favorite retreats. With this visit, EM's becomes our most visited restaurant of all time!
Our server suggested we try a Eddie's Paradise martini so . . . what's a group of gals out for a fun evening to do? Try it, of course. Big fail! NOPE, this isn't the drink we would recommend. It tasted like an extremely watered down pineapple juice with a kicking horrible aftertaste. Perhaps straight martini drinkers might enjoy this, but it's definitely not on our "to try" list.
We returned to our "go to" martini - the Berry White (old school recipe)! This really is the best martini in all of the Summit City. The crisp and delicious flavor packs a powerful punch of adult spirit. As a special BONUS - it was only $6 (with the bar menu) - WOO- that's what the 3 Elles are talkin' about!
APPETIZERS & BREAD:
We started with a round of appetizers - one familiar, one new. The new-to-us dish starter was a Chicken Mushroom and Smoked Gouda Flat bread pizza. I loved it but the other Elles were not quite as impressed. We all agree that the dish was mild and lacked the PIZAZZ that we were expecting in a pizza. The sweet sauce was an odd pairing with the other flavors.
And for the familiar - we opted for a round of blue cheese chips which were on special (with the bar menu) for $4 - PARTY AT THE 3 ELLES TABLE!!! These things are ah-maz-ing! Seriously, if you haven't tried these yet, what are you waiting for?
We were served 2 bread boules - the first one was horribly doughy and undercooked. The second one was perfect with a crusty outside and fleshy inside.
Our dinners were prefaced with a Cesar salad. I asked for my dressing on the side . . . but it arrived on the salad - big fail. Our server quickly made it right and returned with an undressed salad and offered up fresh ground pepper. Big piece of advice here: a little of that pepper goes a REALLY long way. We each had just a couple of grinds but it was still way.too.much! The boring bland of romaine chunks was uninspired and quite a disappointing opening act to our upcoming main event. The salad dressing lacked the fresh inspiration one would expect from such a high end restaurant.
From the "Eddie's Meals" section of the menu, Allen L selected a Double Cut Pork Chop while Adams L and selected the same thing, New Orleans Mixed Grill.
Allen L's Double Cut Pork Chop was super-sized! The 2" thick chop was glazed with a flavorful peach BBQ sauce that tasted more like apricots than peaches. The rest of the plate painted a perfect picture of an outdoor scene with a delicate "cloud" of tasty mashed potatoes and a stunning green "tree" of perfectly steamed, but overly salty, broccoli. The exceptionally well prepared chop was tender and moist and ranked among the best pork chops Allen L has ever eaten.
The New Orleans Mixed Grill was a repeat order for us as we have both eaten it before. I ask you - is this dish visually appealing? If you said, "no" you are correct. It also smells much like a wet dog. Good news, the food tastes a bit better than it looks or smells. I found the Aduoille sausage to be mushy, but the undercooked steak (I asked for well done and it arrived medium well) was a perfect cut and the mega sized shrimp are beefy but unseasoned. The 3 meats were plopped onto a mountaintop of mashed potatoes and paired with an amazingly well prepared broccoli crown.
The desserts at EM's are on steroids - they are seriously overgrown and outrageous. Allen L ordered the carrot cake which weighed half as much as she did. It's not that it wasn't amazing, because it was good, but under what circumstances should such a collossal size dessert be served? It's just so crazy huge. Look at it towering over the plate!
Adams L chose the Mixed Berry Cobbler with a side of mixed berry sorbet instead of vanilla ice cream. The sorbet was fruity and carried a thorough berry flavor, but the outer surface was covered in a jelly goo-like substance which was a bit off putting. The warm Cobbler had a sweet biscuit topping and was a definite winner. She said she would surely get it again.
I had ZERO room left for dessert, but opted to get a "piece" of Red Velvet Cake to go. I say "piece" because I'm pretty sure it was the entire cake. It was as large or even larger than Allen L's carrot cake. I tried it the next day and was completely unimpressed! It had an off taste and was a complete fail. I think that EM's is trying to get the wow factor through size - but they should really focus of flavor instead. I would have much rather had a small piece of red velvet cake that tasted amazing over the gigantic piece of disappointment I received.
ATMOSPHERE & SERVICE:
There was annoying music being piped in over the ceiling speakers. The problem was the volume - it was too quiet to hear anything but the bass - and that was just a mood spoiler to hear Thump Thump Thump for two hours.
Adams L arrived first and asked to be seated in the bar, but it was reserved. She was offered the bar menu as a compromise. I arrived shortly and a random server came by our table and said, "Oh you can't have that menu." She said she would get clarification and then come back. She never came back - what?!? That's not the EM's level of service that we had experienced on our previous 4 visits.
Our server was initially very unfriendly which was irritating. By the end, she loosened up and that was greatly appreciated.
Today's Eddie Merlot's is NOT the same experience as 3 years ago. Sadly, it has lost it's unmatched level of service and unique swank factor. It has fallen from a place of fine dining to a place that overcharges and offers mediocre touches of flare. It's disappointing in many ways. It was our go-to place to retreat and be treated on the South side. It was equally matched, in our minds, with the more northern Baker Street. After this visit, Baker Street is clearly our favorite and now stands heads and shoulders above everywhere else. If you are looking for a winning experience, your belly might be full, but your wallet and overall satisfaction will be left empty. Opt to head north to Baker Street - and tell them the 3 Elles sent you!