Monday, August 30, 2010

Tulip Noir

With a rare chance for a weekend brunch, we decided to give Tulip Noir a shot.  We'd heard they were vying for best brunch in Indy so expectations were high.  Upon walking in, we were greeted by the finest Ikea-wear around.  This place practically screamed modern, minimalist design -- a real oddity in our little midwestern town.  The staff keeps it impeccably clean and obsessively straightened.  We were seated immediately and Ozzy's fears were calmed at once after he was informed that yes, they do have pancakes. We should say that 3 of the 4 of us were seated as we had to flag down a waiter and specifically ask for a high-chair for our 11-month old. 

As we had both already had our coffee for the morning, Fred ventured into Tulip Noir's impressive tea menu and settled on the Tie Kuan Yin Oolong  while Libby decided on a pomegranate-blueberry juice & banana smoothie to share with Stella.  While we thought the presentation for the tea was cute, if a bit pretentious, it became obvious that TN was not going to be known for it's service.  We can understand that perhaps this tea is meant to be enjoyed sans sugar.  But being uncouth hoosiers, it might have been a good idea to ask if we would like some sweetener if it is not provided as a matter of course.   Also, how is one to drink a smoothie with no straw?  We were forced to flag down another server to request both.

The smoothie was a disappointment.  Not only was it slimey in texture, it was too thick and slightly bitter.  It seemed as though the bananas were not ripe enough.  Having said that, Stella did not mind one bit and quite enjoyed it.

As is usually the case when we review a breakfast place, Fred chose the Eggs Benedict while Libby went with the "Dreamy" french toast.  Ozzy chose the buckwheat pancakes rather than the "pancakeys" after hearing that the later came with only honey rather than syrup.  Bold move, son.  Stella was very happy to have bits of everything.

As our food arrived, we realized we had made a dreadful mistake.  It became obvious that Tulip Noir's menu is a la carte.  It would have been nice if the waiter had mentioned this fact after noticing that none of us ordered any sides.  In fact it never occurred to us as the side dishes on the two-sided brunch menu are on the back below the "Salads and Sandwiches".  Not exactly where we would go looking for breakfast side dishes. 

Regrouping, we were pleased by the visual appeal of all three entrees.  Fred's eggs looked picture-perfect.  Too bad he couldn't cut into them as he had no silverware.  Time to flag down another waiter.  Joy.

Upon his eventual first bite, he found the hollandaise to be spot on and the eggs were cooked perfectly.  Unfortunately the canadian bacon seemed lifeless and off as was the untoasted english muffin.  While we don't expect even a high-end brunch place to make their own canadian bacon or english muffins (although that would be fantastic!), it would be nice if they purchased quality products.  The otherwise well-prepared dish was brought down dramatically.

Libby's french toast was indeed dreamy.  She had to remind herself to keep the moaning to a minimum as it is a small establishment and in this atmosphere that would be frowned upon.  Stella greedily filled her mouth to maximum capacity with berries and bits of toast.  Unfortunately our uptight waiter felt it appropriate to offer Stella a plate as the messy table was paining him.  Even after we politely informed him that she would just shove it onto the floor, he froze in position with the plate out-stretched for several seconds.  While there were plenty of other children in attendance that morning, our waiter was visibly uncomfortable with a messy table.

Ozzy was obviously torn throughout the meal.  On one hand he was very hungry and had pancakes with yummy syrup in front of him.  On the other hand, these were not Aunt Jemima.  No son, these are buckwheat pancakes.  For what they were, they were good.  The fruit was nice and the blueberry-pomegranate syrup was fresh and tasty.  Unfortunately, Ozzy's reaction was, "Mommy, I think they forgot some ingredients. These aren't good."   But hunger prevailed in the end and we noticed that at least 3/4 of the pancakes were still consumed.

Wrap Up

Price-$$$, Very much at the high end of the breakfast scene.   
Atmosphere-****, We really enjoyed the modern decorSomething fun and different for Indy.
Service- Zero*s, Wow. Can we give a negative *?  This was easily the worst service we've had within the Indianapolis city limits.  It bordered on insulting.

Fred- D-, The only saving grace here was the french toast.  It really was excellent.  But "Competing for Indy's Best Breakfast"?  You MUST be kidding me.  For the price they charge, I would expect outstanding service.  I've had a more attentive waitress at Waffle House.  On top of that, the food was only mediocre.  What, exactly are we paying extra for here?!?  If you want an amazing brunch in Indy, go to Hoaglin To Go on Mass Ave or Zest in Broadripple.  They blow this place away.  And from the relaxed attitude and warmth of the waitstaff, they appear to do so effortlessly.
Libby- B-, Although our server had his personality quirks, I found the whole scene quite entertaining.  Fred was visibly upset. Ozzy was visibly upset.  Stella was busily enjoying her breakfast, as was I.  But sadly, I won't be experiencing the dreamy french toast again.  Although I'm pretty sure the vanilla challa french toast at Hoaglin To Go will suffice.  I also wasn't aware at the time exactly how much we were paying for this breakfast or my experience would have been lessened.
Ozzy- D, We really can't blame Tulip Noir here.  If there is a next-time, we might have to explain to Ozzy the full breadth of his ordering decision.
Estelle- C, While the girl really enjoyed herself and provided for lots of smiles from the other patrons, it was obvious she wasn't welcomed with open arms from the waitstaff.

Tulip Noir Café on Urbanspoon


wibia said...

I have yet to go, but doubt I will after this review. My wife had lunch there a few weeks ago and said the food was ok and the service was weird... a few odd comments that I can't quote. Plus, breakfast should be either greasy spoon or fruit... everything in between usually dissapoints.

Anonymous said...


Quality varies.

Waitstaff in flux often.

Not going back.

IN[dy] Girl in Love said...

Hey gang, thanks for the review. A friend of mine went on a date with a guy that worked there and that made me aware of its existence. (We weren't impressed by him) Thanks to your imput I won't be wasting my time or money on Tulip Noir. Have you been to Oh Yumm Bistro?

Fred said...

No, we haven't been to Oh Yumm Bistro yet. It's on our to-do list though! Can you recommend anything to try there? :)


Anonymous said...

Just boring: would not ever go back willingly. Lunch for 2 for "healthy" (read tasteless) fare came to $35 + tip. That was 2 sandwiches (1/2 sandwich with side salads), 2 teas (weak...again, read tasteless) and a dessert which was overpriced but able to be split easily. No ambiance, no privacy at table. Not even good company makes up for the wasted time and price.