Dear Husband and I decided to have dinner in a restaurant that was totally new to us. It’s not terribly far from where we are staying for the duration, and we thought we might enjoy trying something new.
When we walked in, there was a sign announcing that there would be a private party downstairs. We were seated on the main floor, four or five steps up. We had the choice of a table or a booth, and choose a booth on the outer edge of the room. At the time, only one other table was taken, which didn’t surprise us given that we were dining rather early on a Monday.
Our waiter appeared, told us about the restaurant and their aim to buy food locally. The menu had a nice selection, and we both opted for soup, and an entree. And then things began to go downhill. Just little things, really. We talked about it, quietly, during dinner.
For instance, the chipotle honey butter was okay, but it seemed the chef was trying a bit too hard for originality. Whatever happened to plain butter? DH ordered a Pepsi, but when it came it seemed that the syrup to soda mix was wrong, and he ultimately sent it back, and settled for water.
I asked what the soup of the day was, and the answer was, “Clam Chowder.” I had to ask which kind. When it arrived, it might have been a corn chowder, because there was more corn than clam in it, and it looked like it was chicken broth thickened with cornstarch. That’s not my idea of a good New England Clam Chowder.
We finished our soup, and the soup and bread plates were still on the table when a bus boy brought our entrees. His hands were full. He couldn’t remove the dishes so that he could set the entrees down, so we had to assist him. I’m surprised that they didn’t bus the table first.
We ordered two different steak dinners. Both of us ordered the steak done medium rare. Both our steaks came rare
I rarely order dessert, but I was tempted by the idea of cheesecake. I asked the waiter (who had been conspicuously absent during our meal) what the cheesecake of the day was. He said it was chocolate and strawberry. I asked for a more detailed description. He said he thought it had a ground oreo base, and had strawberries and chocolate over the regular cheesecake. I asked if I could get it without the chocolate and he allowed as that was possible. When it came, it had a graham cracker crust, was slightly overcooked, and had frozen strawberries in sauce over the top. For some reason, I was expecting fresh strawberries…you know, their commitment to fresh produce, grown locally.
Now, I should tell you, that we ate most of our dinners. What bothered us was that the service was off, and the meal didn’t quite live up to the prices. The look of the rooms, and the look of the staff told me that we should have had a better experience. As we left, we realized that our waiter was handling all the outside seating. Another waiter came along and commented that they were short-handed due to the private party. I’d have thought they would have made sure they had the staff to cover their needs.
One last thing, I went to the ladies room without my purse. Too late, I discovered that there was no toilet paper. Luckily a server was in the next stall and shared with me, but someone should have checked the restrooms to be sure they were stocked following the busy weekend.
So, DH and I have decided to offer ourselves as undercover restaurant critics. We know enough about fine dining to be able to assess what’s good and what isn’t. The staff would never guess that we were critics. We don’t look the part. I wonder how much that plays into whether the staff makes your experience a good one, dressing up for the occasion? I have to say we are rather casual these days.
Maybe we can find a local newspaper that wants a restaurant column. We could really expand this, and make a living eating out!
My first comment will be, “Don’t say ‘How’re you dooin guys?”