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The Olde Pink House, a Less than Positive Experience

Indy 67 | May 5, 201503:20 AM

Here's what's right about The Old Pink House: Beautiful interior and servers with friendly welcoming style. (There's a maître d' assigned to each floor to trouble shoot, a necessity in this huge restaurant.) A woman in period dress walks around visiting each table, but I'm not entirely clear of her function. When we arrived, she was singing to a table seated close to the entry door. When she arrived at our table quite a bit later, she didn't volunteer to sing. She simply inquired how our evening was going. When I complimented her on her singing, she asked if we wanted her to sing something for us. I invited her to sing anything she wanted to sing. Appropriately, she chose something from the Johnny Mercer songbook and sang it beautifully. There were a number of times where her voice got good and gravelly, so I know she can probably belt out some great blues, but that would have been out of place in this genteel restaurant. She did not sing while visiting the other tables in our room. At one, she took a photograph of all diners and at others she simply talked which is why I said I'm not sure if she has a specific function.

Now for the not so good: We began the meal by ordering one of their signature cocktails, specifically the jalapeno margarita. The waiter came back and said the restaurant was out of the fixings for that drink. We, then, ordered the Planters Punch from the same list. I explained that I love this drink but I didn't like sweet versions and to please explain that to the bartender. He should feel free to leave out the grenadine, for example, because that tends to make too sweet a drink. When the drinks were delivered, I noticed that the dark rum that had been floated on the top of my husband's version was no where in sight on my drink. It tasted like straight pineapple juice. I asked if the bartender had somehow thought I wanted a non-alcoholic version of a Planters Punch. The server kept insisting the drink had alcohol included, but neither the appearance of the drink nor the taste supported his claim. (The waiter asked if I wanted more liquor in my drink. This phrasing really bothered me, placing the problem on me. Dark rum is dark and leaves evidence! My husband's drink clearly had a float of the recipe-standard dark rum. My drink was the color of pineapple juice, expected because there was no grenadine. The only way my drink could have had rum was if the bartender used white rum in my drink but dark in my husband's -- and that makes no sense. I couldn't understand the waiter's insistence that the drink included liquor when the proof was so obvious. Why characterize the problem as my preference for a stronger drink?) I refused the drink entirely and, giving up on the bar tender, I switched to white wine.

My husband ordered the Crispy Half duck and, as I've written in another thread, the duck was not at all crispy. I often order two appetizers for my dinner and that night was no different. I ordered the house salad and the fried green tomatoes stacked with a crab cake. The Caesar salad offered diners the option of topping their salad with three cornmeal fried oysters. I thought that sounded appealing so I asked for oysters to be added to my house salad. No complaints about my food. And then, the check arrived.

My failed drink was still on the bill along with my wine. I spotted that immediately and called it to the waiter's attention. He apologized and immediately took the bill away to recalculate it. When the new version arrived I scanned past the drinks to the rest of that list. That's when I noticed the pricing on the added oysters. The menu price of the basic Caesar salad was $7.50 and the oyster-added version was $12.50. Using that evidence, I was expecting a $5 surcharge for my salad. Instead, the check listed three oysters at $2.50 per oyster. I asked the waiter to check the oyster pricing on the menu and, if necessary, get help from the maître d'. A ridiculously long time went by and we began to feel the waiter was simply avoiding us. Eventually, the maître d' came back to the table with a recalculated bill and explained that everything on the menu is already keyed into the cash register. The waiter didn't have the authority to enter a unique charge on a bill and he didn't know what to do except charge the per oyster price. (Why the waiter didn't seek out his maître d' suggests a training issue.) At any rate, when the maître d' got involved, he also thought the price of three fried oysters ought to be the same regardless of what salad they topped, but he went farther. He removed the oyster charge entirely. While I truly appreciated his ultimate handling of the problem, I didn't choose to dine at TOPH for a deal on my meal. I would much, much, much rather have had an wholly pleasant evening than to earn a discount via stressful situations.

Bottom line: My husband wasn't impressed with his food and I wasn't impressed with the restaurant's ability to handle individual requests. (My husband puts this restaurant in the same category as Commander's Palace in New Orleans.) Very dear friends are building a house just outside Savannah, so we expect to return with some frequency. We will not go back to The Old Pink House.

Commander's Palace
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