on a whim, we visited sage about a year ago, but we've just been too busy exploring other restaurants to make a return visit. and, quite frankly, we just couldn't remember anything (good or bad) about sage, so it never came up in conversation. we finally made our return a few nights ago when a friend asked us to dinner. the results were, well, a mixed bag.
sage is a relatively good-lookin' place that's clearly designed for the young urban professionals of benton park. when you first come through the door, you're greeted by the host, and to the left is a generously-sized bar/lounge situated next to a stairway that leads we know not where. (we suspect folks much cooler than we are invited upstairs for elaborate soirees, but we can't confirm this.) in any case, the bar and dining room are separate, with the smallish, two-level dining room occupying the majority of the restaurant. really, it's a pretty nice joint, but there's just not much in the way of original decor to make sage anything to gush about.
our host didn't seem very happy to see us... an inauspicious beginning, no doubt. and then our server seemed preoccupied (put out?) during the entire dinner. the worst part, though, was that we received conflicting reports from the kitchen when we asked about vegetarian-friendly options. as you can imagine, it's tough to feel comfortable during a meal when you're not entirely convinced that your food is meat-free. nothing like finding a grody porcine nugget in your soup, eh?
after an inordinately long wait, the night began with hummus (as is our custom). we thought we remembered the spiced organic hummus as the highlight from our first visit, but we must have been mistaken, as this offering was a sudden and unwelcome reminder of reality. it's not that the hummus isn't interesting; it's just that the hummus is unmemorable despite itself. we commend sage for offering organic hummus, but it's the spice that fails them. yes, it's different from other hummus in the city, but that doesn't make it good. compounding the problem of odd flavoring was the lackluster flatbread. but, hey, at least they warmed it up. seriously, thank you for that, sage. if we see another restaurant serve cold pita with hummus ever again, we're not gonna stick around for the rest of the meal. a positive note: the red pepper slices were ultra fresh and ultra scrumptious!
next up was the roasted butternut squash soup and "gus' warm pretzels anheuser" (uh, yeah). the former arrived with a film on top, a sure indication that the soup sat under the warmer for just a bit too long, but the flavor was solid despite the tepid profile. we're not sure if the oyster crackers are supposed to be ironic, but we weren't amused either way. the pretzels, too, were ordinary, and like the soup, they were oversalted. yes, we know pretzels are supposed to be salty, but these put a smack down on our taste buds. the accompanying mustard dip (vegans beware: contains honey!) was too tame to tackle the salty bread, but the asiago chips were totally yummy.
we finished the meal with the tortellini ratatouille, which was really just a bowl of tortellini in a cream sauce. a handful of eggplant cubes and other scant vegetables does not a ratatouille make. again, though, the dish was edible/not disgusting/decent, but we would not order it again.
we hate to make it sound like our experience at sage was awful--because it wasn't--but we have to be honest about our evaluation, which brings us to the conclusion: there's nothing we would want to order again. perhaps if there were more options for vegetarians (a wrap aint gonna cut it) we might be tempted to return, and we encourage you (as always) to make your own judgments, but we cannot officially endorse sage until the kitchen is ready to play nice with veg heads.