Saturday, October 3, 2009

Don't bring your budget to Old Europe Inn in Salem, OR

The challenge was fine dining on a budget as three of's peeps crossed the threshold to one of Salem's most expensive eateries. The warm scent of fresh baked bread and garlic overwhelmed us, causing our already rumbling stomachs to cry out.

Vegan's Nightmare has all the shots.

Obviously, budget is a very subjective concept. In short, if you're looking for coins in the couch cushions in order to keep the lights on, you should probably hold off on a visit to Old Europe Inn, because it's the type of place that without alcohol, you could spend about $30 a person... or you could spend more.

Small and intimate, the space is rich and warm, small but not overly crowded.
The service was warm and friendly.

We'd all peeked at the menu online, trying to form our method of getting the best bang for our buck. Upon arrival we saw that prices had climbed. The lowest priced entree was just under $15, and many, including all the specials, reached up to the $25-30 mark. Appetizers are around $10.

Budget minded options are a lovely spinach salad with walnuts, cranberries, blue cheese and balsamic glaze which is under $8, and a pasta dish at $14 (but it was small, too small for the cost as it didn't even come with a salad. Entrees come with a salad, but pastas do not.

Being budget minded, wine was out, and a beautiful selection of bottles (and bottles, and bottles, and...) gazed at us from the walls. LOTS of wine. Bummer.

Three salads, three entrees and three desserts later... we were stuffed and happy. I eschewed the budget idea just a bit and went for the beef stroganoff for $25. Asparagus and tips of beef in a very rich sauce (perhaps over salted, but I like salt with my meat so it was fine with me) with mushrooms. Piled high on top were crispy potato sticks, a nice change from mashed potatoes. Clean plate club, I was on my way!

We enjoyed a selection of desserts. As the place fulled up, the service became sparse. Water glasses ran dry and we waited for the check; when it arrived we had to take it up to the counter ourselves, as a little hint.

We started at 5 and ended around 7pm, and the place was full, so reservations are recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about how there was one combination where you could get out of there for $20. Not everyone in the party can just get a little salad and spaghetti (which was a large portion), so if someone on a slim budget gets pressured into going to OEI they have an option thats still pretty tasty. I don't know if I would want to be that person though, drooling over the other dishes and deserts. That sounds depressing.