Thursday, September 8, 2011

La Capitale

La Capitale is a bistro located in downtown Salem, Oregon, specializing in French and French-inspired cuisine.

Lovely ambiance/decor
I arrived just a bit after 11 a.m. (their opening time), and they were not quite ready yet. The hostess showed me to my seat, and for whatever reason, thought it would be a good idea to give me the wine menu. Thanks for assuming (correctly) that I'm over 21, but I'm not drinking in the morning.

Not a good start right off the bat. Dirty silverware on the table.

They did not wash the silverware real well, did they?
A male server brought me a lunch menu after a bit of time passed. After yet another few minutes of what appeared to be all servers getting a short conference with the chef, a male server took my order.

I got the Pork Loin sandwich ($10.50): an open-faced sandwich of bread, grain mustard, two slices of pork tenderloin, grilled Granny Smith apples, and a colorful summer slaw. The sandwich came with a side of frites, twice-cooked thin fries.

Lunch menu (as of August 2011)
The rest of the lunch menu
Pork loin sandwich on the right (there is a sandwich under there!)
See? The slaw just covers the rest of the sandwich, that's all
The pork retained a bit of juiciness, but needed more flavor. The grilled apples had a slight firmness and were cooked very nicely -- not crunchy, not mushy. The crunch and the tang of the slaw really elevated this dish with respect to presentation, texture, and flavor. Unfortunately, the one slice of bread, which served as the bed of the sandwich, was extremely mushy, having soaked up much of the pork juices and mustard. Toasting the bread (or toasting it longer) would have improved that aspect. Great ingredients, but it lacked pop and could have been executed better.

The frites at La Capitale are top-notch and left a positive lasting impression. Crispy, not greasy, with the proper amount of salt. I received two containers of sauce: ketchup and what appeared to be mustard aioli. Both went very well with the frites.

The service was very subpar. After receiving my food, he did not check to see if I was enjoying my meal and did not even offer to refill my water glass. Just because I asked for the check, received the bill, paid the tab, and received my change back doesn't mean your service with me is over. Only after I actually leave is your obligation to me done.

Overall, it was an average experience marred with unclean silverware, relatively slow service, and food that largely did not live up to expectations. I know I wouldn't pay over $10 for that meal again. 3/10

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