I have to preface this review by confessing that I'm not a big fan of expensive restaurants. In general, I find the atmospheres intimidating and overly bourgeois, the portions excessively small, and the prices unnecessarily high.
However, I insisted that my husband accompany me to Shade because a) the restaurant I wanted to review, Asian Market, was already closed and b) I want to fully experience our neighborhood. I don't want to drive by restaurants and wonder, "What's it like?"
I'm glad I got to experience Shade, but I'm also glad that my curiosity has been satiated and I can move on to better restaurants.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a bad experience; it just wasn't worth the money (maybe that's just my Hoosier/Protestant background talking?).
First, I found the physical space underwhelming. It's essentially a big, rectangular room that is only aesthetically pleasing because of the furnishings. I like the way it looks inside; I just prefer my restaurants to have a little character.
The restaurant immediately scored major points when they served us free pre-food. I love this trend (a la Chicago Pizza and Thai Spice). They served a bountiful basket of bread with two options from which to choose. Although the bread was tasty enough, I found the whipped butter to be rather insipid. I would have preferred some olive oil and spices. I also appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, and the friendly wait-staff.
As soon as we glanced at the one-page menu with only 9 entrees to choose from, I immediately felt guilty for having forced my husband to accompany me on our little excursion into the high life. He's vegetarian, and there wasn't a single option for him. Even the two soups of the day (they had run out of the third option) had meat. Fortunately, the server was a very affable and welcoming chap, and he explained that the vegetable platter could in fact be modified to be vegetarian (they have to grill the asparagus rather than fry it).
As a pescetarian, I had a lot more options and was quite excited about the grilled king salmon with "Texas peaches, cucumber salad, arugula, roasted fingerling potatoes, balsamic reduction, olive oil, and toasted almonds."
However, I have to say that I was disappointed with the result. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I shouldn't expect a meal that costs $25 to be divine. The grilled peaches were delectable, but everything else was just hum-drum. The potatoes were dry, the "cucumber salad" consited of approximately five slivers of cucumber, and I could only taste the "balsamic reduction" in three or four bites.
I will say that I stole three bites of fried polenta from my husband's plate, and the crisp exterior and soft interior did a little happy dance in my mouth.
In the end, we paid over $45 for two entrees and two waters. The previous night, we ate twice as much food at a sushi restaurant in Montrose for half the price.
I'll continue to search for restaurants that offer twice as much food (gotta love leftovers!) for half the price.
I'm eager to hear your opinion of Shade. Our fellow diners certainly seemed to like the place, and the restaurant has 46 internet reviews with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars. It seems I'm quite the aberration. Please share your thoughts!