Monday, September 3, 2012
Review: Salentos @ Rice Village
The City: Houston
The Place: Salentos
The Day: Monday
The Time: 2:30 - 3:30
It was Labor Day weekend which meant, of course, that yours truly would not be found in doors all day. Wanting to get out and about a bit and see a little more of Houston, I decided to treat myself to some lunch and coffee. I thought this would make for an easy review of a meal but, as with all things worth consideration, even lunch does not come easy.
Salento's wine and coffee certainly thinks highly of itself. For such a small location nestled amongst a mostly college crowd, it is certainly aiming for the skies. Decorated with a semi European vibe and with jazz music wafting from the rooftop, they certainly had a clutch on the near classy aesthetic. It is a nice place, nicely decorated, with a view of a wine wall at the back end. Slightly outdated, but it has that coffee shop look nailed down. I'm still unsure if it's look matches the clientele.
However, I went at lunch, and dinner service may bring in a different sort of client. So, how was lunch? I had what was essentially a chicken sandwich on ciabatta bread, at a total cost of ten dollars. Mind you, this is only two dollars short of a large meal at a mid scale restaurant, with far larger portions. The ciabatta bread itself was nicely toasted, not overdone. There was little inside to justify the cost, however. Most of the flavor came from the slab of cream cheese on the interior. Besides that, there were two slices of tomato, some spinach leaves, and some limp grilled chicken.
The chicken was disappointing. Even if being served on a cold sandwich, there should have at least been some flavor or texture to the meat. To illustrate just how limp and texture-less the chicken was, I initially, on visual and touch inspection, had difficulty discerning between the chicken and the cheese. Coupling this to the crime of small portions to high prices, and the chicken sandwich simply turned out underwhelming.
It's a coffee shop too, though, and I had to have something to top off the day. A chocolate mocha was my dessert of choice, hard to mess up, and at four dollars a good price. Rich, creamy and with enough caffeine to offer a kick, the mocha sent me off smiling.
Still, the entire experience was slightly underwhelming. I wasn't sure what to expect coming in, but given the decor and overall vibe, perhaps I should have expected high prices on the food. However, high prices always demand high quality, and there just wasn't enough of that in the sandwich. Think of it this way. Would you pay ten dollars for ciabatta bread and a small grilled chicken breast at any other locale? Likely not.
Some minor details for the inquiring student. It has wifi, assuring you access to online research (and more likely, Facebook). Though the wifi was not working when I arrived, the staff worked to resolve that. The main attendant didn't look too happy to be there and could barely smile. I understand you're aiming or the somewhat uppity Euro vibe, but a smile never hurt anyone, yeah? At least the attendants waiting the tables were prompt and courteous. Let's remember, restaurants sell an experience, and service is a large part of that. However, even if they weren't always happy, the servers were at least prompt in bringing food out and removing plates to the kitchen.
And odd mix of stuffy black shirted servers in a semi Euro aesthetic coupled with obviously uncaring collegiate clientele made for an odd lunch aesthetic. Salentos may be better off modernizing and putting a bit more energy into its appeal, rather than sticking to its current, stodgy outlook. At the very least, make a better sandwich, for Heaven's sake.
The Final Call: