Vieux Carre: Disappointing Lunch

Still wary of wandering too far from the house on a Friday lunch date, Jay and I decided to stick close to home and walk to Vieux Carre, located in Hillcrest close to the corner of Beechwood and Kavanaugh. Earlier in the summer it was billing itself as “Best Business Lunch” as voted on by readers of the Arkansas Times. I generally stand fast to the Times, so I thought I would give it a shot for lunch. Jay and I both had dinner here soon after it first opened but it had failed to impress, so we had high expectations for its lunch.

Unfortunately, my expectations were quickly dashed. First strike: service was very slow. At this point the lunch rush had passed and there were only about three or four seated tables (including us), but we were largely neglected. Second strike: menu. If you don’t want a sandwich or a salad, then you might as well not come, as there are only three entrees listed that do not fall into one of these categories. Furthermore, the salads are (almost) entirely meatless (the one exception is the chicken salad), and I didn’t see any option of adding chicken to any of the salads. I myself had a bit of a conundrum here, not wanting salmon for lunch (the only entree that appealed to me), but wanting protein (thus no salad for me) but also wanting to stay a little on the healthy side (thus no appealing sandwich). I decided to go with the turkey melt, and Jay had the club. Third strike: the food itself. The only interesting part to my sandwich was a cranberry sauce, but I could have made the exact same sandwich at home. Jay’s club was completely bland, didn’t have enough veggies and didn’t even look like a club.

The only good part about the meal was a cup of the special roasted red bell pepper soup, but other than that the meal was entirely forgetable and unremarkable. We decided agaisnt dessert because we were so fed up with the place, and needless to say we won’t be going back ever.

Maybe Vieux Carre got “Best Business Lunch” because it appeals to the person who thinks a sandwich at a sit-down place is a nice lunch, who just wants a sandwich real quick and nothing too inventive. For anyone with an actual taste for food, however, and with a more sophisticated palate than your standard Joe, Vieux Carre is nothing more than filler and fuel for the engine. One more note: we were the youngest people in the restaurant by about 30 or 40 years, and my experience has taught me that a restaurant populated mostly by older people is not going to excite or appeal to me in the slightest (for some reason I can’t help thinking about Caper’s at dinner for another example).

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