Inconsistent Experiences at Indochine

When the sexy urban-chic Indochine opened on East Adams Street in Jacksonville's urban core, it seemed like Jax diners could at last be in for a great Asian restaurant experience. I've never wanted to like a restaurant more. I crave Thai food, and I appreciate a restaurant that puts such an effort into creating a beautiful space. I purposely didn't go immediately, while it was the talk of the town. I gave them more than enough time - almost a year in fact - to settle in to the restaurant they would be for the long haul. In the meantime I read many glowing reviews on Urbanspoon. 

I was more than ready when the opportunity presented itself to go for lunch with a couple of co-workers. We were seated immediately, and our waitress found her way to our table shortly afterward with water and menus. We found the atmosphere attractive, but the noise level during a half-full lunch service was a little high for our tastes. 

Green Curry - Lunch Portion
This was a particularly hot summer day, and the large, open room was a bit warm, but I managed to get by with a couple glasses of water from our table's water bottle, a nice and practical touch. When it came to ordering (or a refill on that water, for that matter) it was another story. 

Two tables were seated after us, but ordered and were served before us.Our waitress apologized in advance explaining some staff had called off and they were shorthanded. I was pretty sure I couldn't use that as an excuse back at my office.

I'll have mine with extra cabbage please...
Our food, when it finally arrived, was adequate. I enjoyed a small bowl of green curry with some very fresh vegetables in it, not the usual stewed melange. It almost looked as if the sauce had been ladled in and the crisp-fresh veggies laid on top of it. The heat level was a perfect #3, as ordered.

One of my table-mates chose the vegetable stir-fry and asked for extra vegetable in lieu of a protein choice. Her entree, while beautifully sauced, seemed to be topped with copious amounts of  cabbage. She professed to enjoy it, but I would have been disappointed in the dish. 

The biggest issue was the table service, or lack thereof. Our waitress was nowhere to be found once our entrees came to the table. We eventually managed to flag her down for more water and a soda refill, but these things never made it to our table. We wrote it off to a possible short-staff situation and I vowed to come again before forming an opinion or stating my feelings about the place. I usually dine somewhere 2-3 times before writing a review here or on Urbanspoon

My next visit was during Eat Out Downtown. My friends and I were happy to see that Indochine hadn't changed their usual menu for the annual promotion. We dreamed of which savory delights we would enjoy, and booked far in advance, an early seating so we could get some light for snapping pics. 

Aside from a brief brush with the law, we had no trouble getting there on time or finding convenient parking. We were seated immediately at a table near the back door and kitchen area, a bit warm as they were keeping the doors and windows open for cross-ventilation. With an outdoor temp in the 80s, I noted again that this wasn't the coolest of spots. 

As you can see, the appetizer platter was less than appetizing, with some clammy, lettuce filled summer rolls, a couple of crab rangoon oozing with a piping hot, bright orange liquid filling, some quite ordinary fried calamari and the greasiest, most overcooked spring rolls I have ever seen. Each of us ordered this dish, and two of us got the sauce pictured here, while the third got a bright red mess that looked like standard Americanized sweet and sour. No explanation was given regarding the different sauces. 

One bright note was an appetizer of Stuffed Chicken Wing. It was appropriately seasoned, a sort of pork-alicious filling with a crispy panko style crust, and came to the table at a perfect temperature. I would order this again. In fact, with a glass of wine, it would make a nice meal. 

Our waitress was April, the same woman who had waited on us during my previous visit.  She copped a surly attitude when we asked her to check if a particular dish was available, noting it wasn't listed on the promotional menu. She took an almost instant disliking to us, despite our attempts at remaining congenial and upbeat. 

Our dishes were tossed at us as if we were a pack of hungry dogs. At one point, we managed to flag her down to refill our long empty water bottle. She took it and abandoned us altogether. When much later she managed to reappear for our dessert order, we asked her to please bring our water. It was then I recalled we had the same issue with her the last time. Be forewarned. If you get April, it could be May or June before you see your beverage refilled. Order accordingly. 

And word to Indochine, when your server goes AWOL on a table, you are losing revenue from potential drink refills. I'm certain I would have ordered another glass of Steele Shooting Star Aligote - it's so infrequently found on local wine lists, and it pairs perfectly with spicy sweet Thai food.

Surly, dismissive service notwithstanding, we would still have been happy campers if the food had been up to standard. My chicken stir fry entree was tasty enough, but having ordered a #3 spice level, the same as at lunch, this time I didn't detect any heat in the dish. I assume they thought we didn't know better. Cari ordered her entree super spicy though, and it did pack the heat she expected. 

And then there was Jodi. It was her first trip to Indochine, and she had been looking forward to the experience. She ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai, #1 spicy. She calls it the "canary in the coal mine" of Thai cuisine. Hard to screw up a dish as elemental as Pad Thai. As it turns out, not impossible. Her dish appeared to be coated with and swimming in oil. The greasy noodles came with the usual condiments, but the shrimp were not evident at service. With some careful excavation she was able to find four small translucent shrimp, which she was afraid to eat, they looked so far undercooked. Complete. entree. fail. 

Dessert was part of the package deal for Eat Up Downtown, and we planned to each order one of the three options. When the lovely April came to take our order she informed us they were out of the chocolate lava cake. This was day two of Eat Up Downtown, early in the evening, at that, and they were already out of one of the three, the one any first year kitchen manager might assume would be the most popular, despite it not being in keeping with the restaurant's Asian theme. Planning fail. 

I ordered Coconut Creme Brulee, J and C each ordered the Mango Sticky Rice. The creme brulee was delicate and sweet. Score. The girls' Mango Sticky Rice dishes, however, came out looking like two totally different desserts. One was topped with a sliced mango, the other with an oddly cobbled together slab of mango colored.... custard? flan? orange cream jello? It was and remains a mystery. Of course April didn't mention a thing about the dueling presentations. The other, more critical issue with the sticky rice was that it seemed to be more crunchy than sticky. Another failed dish. 

I might return to Indochine, but probably only at lunch or for a cocktail and a snack, and only if I have plenty of extra time. I didn't find it to be worth the extra coin for dinner service. I do hope they make a go of it, though, and I especially hope they address the poor service and inconsistencies in presentation.

Indochine on Urbanspoon

21 E Adams Street Ste 200
JacksonvilleFL 32202

(904) 598-5303


  1. What a shame. My husband and I had a great experience when we went around Feb/March, but I do remember reading a few bad reviews on Urbanspoon regarding service. Our waitress did a great job though. I hope they turn it around and you have a good experience there at some point!

  2. Cilla, thanks! Im glad to hear that your experience was great.

    If anyone has a subpar experience all we ask is that the matter is brought up to us immediately. Either to me or my husband/partner Mark who are always on site. Give us a chance to remedy the situation before you leave the premises. We cant always hit all the high notes every time for every person but we need to know where we fall short in order to reach a happy medium for all parties.

    Ladda Salter

  3. Ladda - thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I wish more restaurant owners took an active role in managing their online reputation. I sincerely hope you'll also address some of these issues back at your restaurant.

    Respectfully, back of the house concerns like food quality and consistency of presentation, and front of the house issues like friendly, knowledgeable service and comfortable surroundings are not things your paying customers should have to sort out for you.

    You ask for a chance to remedy the situation. You have that chance, every time a server greets a customer, and every time a dish leaves your kitchen. Who is looking at the food before it gets served? Who is ensuring your customers are made to feel welcome, and not as though we are putting you out in some way with our questions or dietary concerns?

    When that sticky rice dish reached our table - one with a carved up custard-like topping and the other with a pretty sliced mango, it was already too late to make that right.

    Did anyone think to ask the customer "I'm so sorry, we're out of fresh mango, may we substitute X Y or Z?" Why did they just cobble something together out of... whatever that was... hoping we just wouldn't notice the two disparate presentations? Would calling you over to complain about it have made our evening more enjoyable?

    I didn't come to Indochine looking for flaws so I could get a comped meal, I was simply expecting to share a good meal with good friends. I hope for the best for you and for Indochine. I will return, and one thing is certain. I'll speak my mind about the experience here - be it good, bad, or indifferent.


  4. I am writing as a customer who recently visited their business. As a worker downtown, there are not many options for a quick lunch, and I usually enjoyed Indochine weekly along with 8-10 of my other co-workers. On this date, my co-workers and I picked up 7 to-go orders and questioned the total on one of the bills (see attached). We informed April that the price on the bill was different than the posted online menu (which was used to call in the oreder) on the Indochine website. She said that they can't access information online in the restaurant and asked if we could pull it up. We did so and it clearly stated that the beef was $9 and the edamame was $4. April then (with an attitude) stated that the website was wrong and that they will honor the price in the store. Not only did she start an argument in front of 6 or more customers waiting to be seated, she made no effort to remedy the situation. As Nancy states, they put the issue on the customer to resolve. I cannot believe that with all that is out their publicly about this individual, that you would in good business, have her as a part of your establishment. To top it off, your credit card machine was down (AGAIN!!) and your staff as usual, put in on the customer to figure out how we would pay the bill.

    I do hope that you address the poor service; that is for other customers who may be subjected to April. Unfortunately, I won't have a chance to experience any changes. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience here. I'm not surprised, but I think there might be a law against false advertising of prices which would indicate they have to honor the advertised price from their website - unless they had something posted that stated prices are subject to change. Funny that she asked you to pull it up to "prove" your claim, then didn't honor it when you did! That's MESSED UP.



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