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DINING: Third time has its charms

The Diplomat at the Ambassador

Lou Harry
December 15, 2012
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Dining - A&E

 It seems strange walking into the Ambassador for the third time in as many years to review yet another incarnation of the building’s ground floor restaurant.
 

ae-diplomat02-1col.jpg The Blackened Salmon Tacos appetizer at the Diplomat features Asian slaw and a blueberry sauce. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

But here we are, back again, with barely any decorative indication that this is now The Diplomat at the Ambassador (43 E. Ninth St., 602-4433) rather than Azul or The Bar at the Ambassador.

The space started out with such promise. While it was being turned into a restaurant space, the tenant was announced to be Bar Yats, which seemed like a smart concept—quick and tasty, limited-menu Cajun Creole with beer to wash it down. That deal fell apart, though, before the doors opened. And the eateries that arrived instead, while having their pluses, were missing the secret ingredient called “identity.”

That problem still persists at the Diplomat. This time, the menu continues to tilt to the South, although with anchoring traditional bar options, including a decent burger lineup. But there’s no clear focus, and the service on our visit wasn’t particularly efficient or endearing.

Still, I’m rooting for third time’s being, if not the charm, at least a base on which to build what could be an anchoring neighborhood bar and restaurant.


ae-diplomat05-15col.jpg One meal-ending option at the Diplomat: a Raspberry Churro with ice cream. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

We started with an order of Grilled Prawns with Jalapeno Honey Glaze ($10), attractively lined up over fried spinach, but slightly overcooked and lacking fire. The blackened Salmon Tacos appetizer ($10) was a marked improvement, with generous pieces of well-done salmon surrounded by a flavorful blend of Asian slaw and blueberry barbecue sauce.

The Diplomat Burger ($8 with a 50-cent cheese upgrade) had that great grilled flavor you often wish you could get at home, but never quite achieve. Other burger options include Southwest and a Veggie Black Bean. The Southern Style Fish ($7), with Cajun Cole Slaw and a slightly spicy cocktail sauce, didn’t take any chances but delivered. If there’s room for big improvement, it would be in the fries, which seemed an awful lot like what you throw in the oven for the kids when you’re headed out for a date night.

We ended with an oddity, a Raspberry Churro ($7) that seemed like an over-ambitious state-fair food contest entry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It made me want to see what the kitchen could do with other fair staples. Now there’s a restaurant concept.•

–Lou Harry

__________

Third in a month-long series of reviews of late-in-the-year restaurant newcomers.

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  • Weak effort
    This place has issues. They need a professional to help them figure it out. The food is not good. Plain and Simple...not good.

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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