Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Banker's Club

The Banker’s Club
511 Walnut St, #3000
Fifth Third Center

Honestly, I am in two minds about reviewing the Banker’s Club. On one hand it’s a private club and I was only able to dine there courtesy of a business luncheon invitation, but on the other hand I think vegetarians ought to be aware of the menu shortcomings, lest they find themselves in the same predicament as me.

It’s an exclusive restaurant – the kind of place where the city’s movers and shakers meet for power lunches in an elegant setting. And it’s posh in a Midwestern sort of way – all starched white tablecloths, hovering servers and flower-shaped butter pats. Sadly, the current menu is not at all vegetarian friendly.

That isn’t to say that it’s never vegetarian friendly, because on a previous visit the Club's daily lunch buffet offered a vegetarian entrée - but on my most recent visit it didn't . Amazingly, the a la carte menu didn't offer even a single vegetarian item. From the soups to the salads, from sandwiches to entrées, there wasn’t a single thing that was not meat-based.

I really hate being dropped into this sort of situation, and perhaps it is my own fault for not phoning ahead to ask, but I honestly didn’t think there would be NOTHING. I figured that in a pinch I could cobble together some sides, or there would be a salad entrée option that would be ok, but there was nothing. Zero.Zilch. Nada. It threw me for a loop.

It was frustrating, and when I inquired about a vegetarian option, the server rolled her eyes, pulled an exasperated face and made a big production out of having to ask the chef to prepare something "special." When asked about the possibility of the black bean soup being vegetarian she gave me a look as if to say, "Are you kidding me?!" I felt as though I was being chastised for not being familiar with the Banker’s Club menu. It was humiliating.

Surprising too, since the Banker’s Club has been trying to shed their stodgy, good-ole boy image by courting a younger clientele, as evidenced by the Young Professionals events they’ve recently hosted to lure new members. Nonetheless, all the free drinks in the world cannot make up for rude servers and menus that refuse to acknowledge those with dietary restrictions.

Although the menu and buffet were lacking, the chef was kind enough to prepare a pasta alfredo with slivered corgettes especially for me. It was nice, and it ticked the box of being vegetarian - even if I was made to feel like a pariah for requesting it.

If you are vegetarian and have the opportunity to dine at this exclusive club, by all means give it a try, but phone ahead first to avoid embarrassment.

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