The new restaurant run by the same guy who established the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes is called "The Bearded Frog", located 20 miles north in Shelburne VT (just south of Burlington). It's been open a couple months, and tonite was our first visit. We've heard that this place has good food and that service was a little rough, and our experience confirmed exactly that. We had hoped that waiting a couple months for the restaurant to work out the "kinks", but apparently there's still some training issues that need to be addressed, judging from our experience.
It was a pretty mixed bag: mostly very good food, very mediocre, sometimes amateurish service, nice atmosphere with lots of hard wood flooring, bench style hardwood seating...
...and all of it ruined by a waitress who wasn't smart enough to do something about a sub-standard main entree (overcooked Delmonico steak), and the coup de grace, a SHRIEKING 2 year old seated next to us at the very-close-quarters next table. About halfway thru our dinner, we heard that little monster shrieking in the bar....THE BAR, no less!...and when the waitstaff brought out the high chair and put it at the end of the table next to us, literally 3 feet away from our table, I told my wife, let's get the heck out of here. And we did.
The menu is the same reasonably priced offering of $6 soups/salads, $8 apps, $12 small entrees, $16 larger entrees, and $22 steaks.
The wine list was good and reasonably priced (pricing tiers $20, $30, $40 and $50), I ordered one from the $50 list, a very good Tollot-Beaut Chorey-Cote de Beaune.
Unfortunately, even though it was early (6PM on a Sunday nite), the restaurant was not crowded and there was lots of help standing around with little to do, the bottle of wine arrived rather late, almost simultaneously with the apps. I guess I'll never understand why a customer who orders an upscale bottle of wine doesn't get it prioritized over the meal. Obviously the waitress was a rookie.
My wife ordered a grilled asparagus and white bean salad, it was very tasty. I had a summer tomato salad, which arrived with fresh baby mozzarella and basil, again very tasty, though the menu obviously made the assumption that every patron will automatically assume that a "summer tomato salad" will come with mozz and basil...even though the menu makes no mention of the mozz and basil.
My wife's main dish was fennel-dusted grilled salmon with pureed cauliflower and ginger-flavored plums. My wife passed on the plums because of the added sugar (she's diabetic), and they gave her a bok choy veggie substitute. She really liked her dish, cooked perfectly.
I ordered a wild-mushroom demi-glace Delmonico steak, medium rare, with horseradish potatos au gratin, and baby grilled asparagus. The au gratin was wonderful, the asparagus was surprisingly tasteless. But the real problem was the Delmonico. It came out medium and tougher than I expected, and it had also been allowed to sit a little too long, it wasn't especially hot.
About 5 minutes after serving it, the waitress asked how everything was. Clue number 2 that the waitress was a rookie came when I showed her the overcooked steak, and she said "I'm sorry. I'll inform the kitchen." And that's the last time she said or did anything about the steak. There was no offer to have another one prepared, there was no adjustment to the bill, there was no one from the kitchen who cared enough to come out and talk with the customer. There was simply no further response.
So when the shrieking little 2 year old was seated next to me, I asked for the bill. I normally tip 20%, but when service is bad, I generally view it as a learning lesson for the waitstaff. So a $113 tab merited the rookie waitress a $5 tip, with a note expressing my disappointment written on the top of the bill. And I am not the least bit apologetic about leaving such a miserable tip, so save your breath if you want to scold me. I don't want to hear it. I never blame the waitstaff for overcooked food, and I never leave a bad tip when the kitchen screws up a meal.
I DO hold the waitstaff directly accountable when they ask "how was your meal" and don't really intend to do ANYTHING to address a customer with a problematic meal. Train that waitress properly to serve customers, and the tip tonite would have been $22, not $5.