Friday, July 24, 2009

Sinclair's (at West Baden)

Ok, first of all, no I don’t have a gambling problem—we actually have been to French Lick twice in the last month on some personal business nearby. But hey, it is pretty cool having a luxury resort right there. And hey, a little gambling is fun.

This time we stayed at West Baden, and have pretty much decided we will always stay there from now on when we go back down. The hotel is just nicer and the rooms feel more sumptuous. Anyhow, since we were staying there, and had just eaten at the French Lick restaurant, we thought we’d give the West Baden high end restaurant, Sinclair’s, another go.

Wow, this place has greatly improved since we were last there. This restaurant seems to go though major changes with its menu every time we go, and this time was no exception. The menu is now just a high end continental feel, with many more interesting choices than the 1875 Steakhouse. Plus, there is basically a steakhouse menu tacked on as well, so if you want a steak, you can surely get one.

I started with the beef carpaccio which was very, very good. Raw beef tenderloin sliced super thin and topped with cold pressed olive oil, fried capers, very thinly sliced shallots, and fleur de sel (chunky sea salt). Simple, but really well done.

Hubby had the wedge with blue cheese dressing, Serrano ham, roasted cippolini onions and roasted tomatoes. It was also very good, and since I had just had the wedge over at 1875 the last time, it was easy to compare. You would think it would have been the same, but this was much better. The roasted tomatoes were great, and the Serrano ham was a nice touch as well.

For my main dish, I had what was described as lobster ravioli which was actually 3 raviolis filled with Boursin in a lobster saffron sauce with a lobster tail and two de-shelled claws on top. Hubby was making fun of me for ordering it because usually when I order lobster ravioli, I end up with some raviolis stuffed with cheese and maybe an essence of lobster. This time, it was lobster with a bit of pasta on the side. It was tasty and the lobster was pretty much properly cooked. (The claws were great—the tail may have been just a teeny tiny bit overcooked, but it was still good). The sauce was light and flavorful and the raviolis were actually nice. And I liked the fact that there were only three so it wasn’t like you felt like you were completely overwhelmed.

Hubby had the veal chop with sautéed mushroom and caramelized onion ragout and a cauliflower gratin side. He loved it. It was huge and he ate nearly all of it even though he kept saying, “just one more bite.” We skipped dessert in favor of the blackjack tables (we probably should have stayed for dessert as it turns out!)

The service was a bit off, as it took awhile to get acknowledged by the host (the place was totally full so I think he was doing some bussing work as well) and although our waitress was nice, she seemed a little bit harried. Also, hubby was annoyed at the small wine pours by the glass, but the wines we had were nice. I have said before how nice this room is, and it still is beautiful (it hasn’t changed at all). Now, as long as they keep the current quality of the menu, I will certainly choose to eat here next time we visit over 1875 (what? a girl can change her mind).

West Baden Springs Resort
8670 West State Road 56
French Lick, IN 47432


  1. You did it again. You reviewed a place two days before we were planning to go there. Thank you. I had a friend in town from California and we were going to French Lick. While our choices didn't turn out to be as happy as yours, our meal was overall excellent and in a beautiful location to boot. The carpaccio was great, the caprese salad was great (they call it a Caprice Salad) and the Mushroom Strudel was to die for. The rack of lamb we ordered was more like blackened lamb (cooked on the outside and raw on the inside) but that's a minor complaint. If you're like my Scottish father who says, "Wipe its arse, walk it by the fire and then serve it" it's all good but personally, I'd rather have it rare in the middle rather than raw. The other minor complaint was the bottle of wine we ordered was a different year than was listed on the wine list and tasted much different than the year we wanted (at $90 a bottle it should be the same year as listed) and it definitely wasn't as good as the year that was listed. All in all, the meal was so good that we went back for lunch the next day and the lunch was fabulous. No complaints there. And lunch was served in the big center atrium. Atrium seems like an understatement for that magnificent building.

    Beautiful location, good food, good can't go wrong.

    Thanks again for recommending Sinclair's right before we were going to that area.

    -Disgruntled Foodie

  2. Erin, I have to ask, what's the deal with the edges of the carpaccio -- they're brown. Was it seared?

    Also, for this level of dining, there should be *no* service issues. Honestly, for the way they position that resort, it should be some of the best service in the state. The waiting for the hostess thing makes me nuts.

    Lastly, there is *no* excuse for the wine year being different than what was on the list. This happens *all* the time in Indy -- especially in the mid-range places and it makes me crazy. The distributors routinely change out the years, the restaurant doesn't want to reprint the list, and you're stuck. I've taken to flat out refusing the bottle and ordering another just to make a point of it. Drives me crazy -- especially if it's a particularly coveted year. (One would hope no wine steward would ever substitute an 04 or 06 Burg for the 2001 or 2005 for example.)

    I hope you brought it to their attention. The only way we'll get a higher quality of service is to demand it. Sadly.

  3. The edges were brown, you're right--it was pepper crusted, but my thoughts were probably that they lightly seared it just to appease those people who balk at raw meat.

    I agree with you on the service thing. Not sure what the deal with the host thing was but at one point when I went to see about changing our reservations, there were like 4 groups waiting to be seated and no host to be seen. The people down there are super nice, but the skill level can be lacking for sure at certian things (but believe me, they follow every gambling rule to the book that's for sure!).

  4. We had quite the opposite experience with service both times we ate there but then there were only 3 other tables to serve each time.

    They weren't as professional as you'd get in a big city restaurant but they made up for it with hard work and warmth towards us.

    And yes, we found out they do have to sear the outside of the carpaccio for Hoosiers. The waitress told us that while people from nearby Louisville seemed to be fairly open minded about food, they had had to alter a lot of dishes on the menu to appease the Hoosier palate. Sad. Sad. Sad.

    Braingirl: I agree you should send the wine back when it's the wrong year but I'd just had a mineral bath and a massage and was feeling too mellow to let it bother me.

    But the wine year issue is a huge problem here in Indy. Just as the lack of decent independent restaurants is a huge problem here in Indy.