Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not the Dining Experience We Were Hoping For

Neats and I decided to try to grab a little together-alone time and so met up for dinner this past Friday night in downtown Silver Spring, which I am happy to say continues to develop and more restaurant options keep popping up. We decided to try one we had not yet sampled (which shall remain nameless). It has the look of a chic little modern bistro and while reports were that it could be a little noisy, it had a very solid Zagat rating--particularly for the food quality, so we decided it was time.

Now I have not completely written off this restaurant but there are things that were said and happened that made the experience less than desirable. Here are a few observations.
  • There is a difference between prompt and responsive service and hovering. Granted we had an early reservation (6:30) and the dinner rush was not really on, but the wait staff should not take out their impatience on a few customers by hanging around those early tables as if we have nothing better to do than to entertain you.
  • If you have a wine list, you should, well, have it. When we asked, we were told they have one, but they keep losing it. Huh?
  • If you have a wine list, you should have most of what is on it. We were told that while the wine lists keep disappearing, there was plenty of wine and if we wanted a bottle they had--lists off three or four incredibly middling, cheap reds. Question: how does one get a high Zagat rating without comparable wine selection. Answer: Beats me.
  • If you finally find the wine list after the customer decides to order cocktails, you should know what wine you do have so you don't go to the bar twice when we order a glass with dinner only to find out you don't have it.
  • When your menu has an appetizer with the word "bites" in it, like "catfish bites," it shouldn't turn out to be three 6 oz. fillets on a board that would have been enough for a whole meal (or, the server might want to indicate that it has generous portions).
  • In fact, while there is no need to buy into the artfully presented, but barely enough food to satisfy a mouse approach to portions, it is equally unnecessary to provide serving sizes that are so outlandishly large that they are unreasonable--I for instance did not need 4-5 cups of vegetables with my meal, er, covering my meal, nor did Neats need a pound of pasta covered in another pound of jambalaya.
  • I don't care how busy or not you are, meals should not appear before the customer is ready and that means done with their previous course. If they are not, please do not stand over us with the plates looking sadly at us and wondering if we can move the plates still on the table (because you didn't wait for us to be done and clear the table first).
  • When a server is asked what a certain item on a menu is, the answer should not start with the words "I think it is . . . "
  • Please, never, ever take away plates from one person while the other is still eating.
  • There is a difference between prompt and responsive service and ignoring us once the dinner rush starts.
I suppose we might try it again another time, knowing what we know now, but as for that meal, they should be very grateful we weren't restaurant critics.

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