Thursday, August 13, 2009

Review: Split Pea Soup Cafe

Tuesday night I ate at this new branch of an El Paso-based chain. I had read about it in Daily Candy Dallas, where I get a number of good tips about new places to eat.

Right up front, let's deal with the cons:
  • Pretty deserted on a Tuesday evening at 7 pm: I was the only patron when I arrived;
  • I was asked if it was "just" me: not a question a woman eating alone likes to hear; I would suggest practice with a rephrasing of this question to make it sound less pathetic and weird for a single woman to take herself out for a delightful solo dinner;
  • The menu is schizophrenic: part inexpensive soup-and-salad material, part Filet Mignon, Lamb Chops, and Spinach Fettucine, fancy designer fare at much higher prices/higher cuisine status;
  • The menu lists about 15 soups, but doesn't clarify that not all choices are available every day; only after I had decided on the red pepper bisque did I find out that it was not available;
  • The soups available were hardly 'warm weather fare,' meaning summer soups. French Onion, Clam Chowder, Split Pea, Minestrone, and so forth are hardly the flavors I want on a 100+ day;
  • I didn't get what I asked for, which was French Onion Soup -- instead I got Italian Wedding Soup;
  • I had to ask for water and coffee, and I was never offered dessert, which is not on the regular menu but on the website gelato and cheesecake are both mentioned.

Now, the pros:

  • The Italian Wedding Soup was delicious, and a cup, at $3.95, was the right size and price to share with one of the best Greek salads I've had in a while;
  • The salad was crisp and well-made, the dressing was light and just enough;
  • Martinis were $5.00, a great price, and beers were $2.00;
  • The ambiance was nice, and with a few more patrons, cooler weather for the lovely patio, this would be a great post-work spot for drinks and maybe a light dinner;
  • Lots and lots of free parking close.

So here's my final deal. I would eat there again but I would know to be much more assertive with the wait staff about my order (being correctly taken) as well as about water, a drink, coffee, and dessert.

I would also like to try the patio on a cooler day.

On Tuesday, after completing my dinner, I went to Ziziki's for dessert--their ice cream baklava cake--and a glass of cabernet. I definitely wanted dessert and this is one of my favorites. Besides which, Ziziki's has a great patio with a fountain. By 9 pm, the patio is pretty deserted on a Tuesday while the fountain plays prettily in the background. I read my novel and enjoyed both the wine and the treat.

Split Pea Soup Cafe


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