Salut Bar Americain — October 23, 2010

29 10 2010

Salut Bar Americain
917 Grand Avenue
St. Paul
http://www.salutbaramericain.com/

For decades, Parasole has been a dominating force in shaping the Twin Cities’ restaurant scene. Its local chains (including Mannys, Chino Latino and Il Gatto) have become hometown favorites for a variety of crowds, so it’s safe to say they have the business of opening restaurants down to a science. But its French-style Salut proves that it’s just a science – not an art.

The concept is fun: a French experience with the comforts of American casual dining. But even among the cute bistro chairs and café tables, you can’t help but feel good ole’ American franchise. Salut’s menu is a perfect example. It offers a few “French-inspired” dishes, but most items are basic American fare. Hamburger varieties, large steaks (which can be ordered with a boat of sauce…really?!) and creamy pastas have you thinking you’ve gone no further than your neighborhood Applebee’s  — except for that French flag toothpick sticking out of your sandwich.

Salut’s service, however, was delightful. Our waitress was friendly and helpful. She kept an eye on our table, but also gave us space to enjoy our friends without interjecting with constant questions. When more than 30 minutes passed after we’d placed our order, the manager brought us a round of drinks on the house – the kitchen had missed our order. We enthusiastically accepted their apology (free wine can buy all kinds of time), and found our food in front of us moments later.

Jim had the Burger Bar Americain – a beef patty topped with caramelized onion, blue cheese, and bordelaise sauce on the side. Though not spectacular for a $13 sandwich, the cheese added a tangy touch to an ordinary burger and the sauce maximized flavor. Salut’s hand-cut fries were a simple side, but lacked the wow factor we’d heard about from so many people . Not bad, not great; simply average.

On the other hand, my baby beet salad was excellent. Multicolored beets hit the right balance of firm and tender, and crumbles of chevre cheese livened the mix of greens, prosciutto and walnuts. The salad wasn’t offered as an entrée, so I chose a small appetizer flatbread to accompany it. Wish I’d have just stuck with the salad and gone home slightly hungry. Two types of cheese plastered chicken, artichokes, and red onion onto a thick cracker crust. It looked no better than a lean cuisine pulled from the microwave and it tasted about the same.

We hate to knock it – Salut has a lot of things to offer. But the steep prices had set our expectations high and Salut failed to deliver. Thankfully, we both made cautious choices that only mildly disappointed, instead of tearing into a $20+ entrée that would likely have been unimpressive at best.  We’re not ruling out Parasole, but we’re overlooking Salut for now – good company got us there, and good company will be the only thing that brings us back anytime soon.

RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Ambiance/Environment: ♠♠1/2
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠
Service: ♠♠♠♠

Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠1/2
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠

Total bill, including tip: $54

Salut Bar Americain on Urbanspoon

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5 responses

1 11 2010
Rush Creek Reserve and Morning Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

[…] (Rush Creek Reserve), a profile of Rainforest Cafe founder Steve Schussler, Tasting the Twin Cities finds Salut overpriced, a review of Minnesota Tan by Lift Bridge, and a Surly Brewing pumpkin and national ultimate […]

10 11 2010
Ian Meredith

I would have to disagree with this review. Salut does not feel anything like a chain restaurant, it is a completely unique concept. I love that I can walk in there and get a dish that is completely French or order one of their amazing steaks or pastas, for a reasonable price. To compare Salut to something as basic as Applebees would be way off-maybe you haven’t been to an Applebees for a while.
The service is excellent, the food is a crowd pleaser, and I love the decor and ambiance. Parasole hit this concept right out of the park. I frequent the St. Paul location and I will continue to do so for a very long time.

13 12 2010
tastingtwincities

Thanks for the feedback, Ian. We certainly don’t expect everyone to agree, but we stand by our review. We wouldn’t agree that we could walk in and get something completely French (and I think those European natives would agree with us!), but it’s definitely a fun concept that provides a great environment for dinner with friends. Glad you told us what you thought!

10 11 2010
Sarah Nerison

On behalf of Salut and Parasole, please accept our “thank you” for trying Salut in St. Paul for dinner, along with an apology for the unpleasant parts of your experience. We appreciate your business. I am happy to hear that our service exceeded expectations and you enjoyed your dinner. Please know that excellence in customer service and food quality amongst other things is vitally important to us as Salut and Parasole. I would love to hear more about your experience and make any negative aspects of your experience better. Please email me @ snerison (at) parasole.com.

Sarah Nerison
Salut/Parasole

13 12 2010
tastingtwincities

Thanks, Sarah — we appreciate your note! We’ve hit many, but not yet all, of Parasole’s cuisine ventures around the metro … we’re excited to experience more in the coming year. Cheers!

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