My experience here just proves that you really do need to go back to a place several different times, and on different nights of the week, to really get a measure of it.
On a recommendation from this board we had our wedding anniversary dinner at Bistro St. Marks (on St. Marks at Flatbush). Before going I read some reviews from other places (non-chowhound) that praised the food and panned the service but our experience was not like that. The service was a wee bit slow but that was preferable to being rushed out of there to free up a table, and the right atmosphere for a romantic dinner. The waiter was sufficiently attentive and very knowledgeable though without pretension. The food was excellent and my husband was particularly impressed that they managed to give us our steak and lamb as ordered, medium well and rare, respectively. This little detail seems to be lost of a lot of restaurants. The prices were not very Brooklyn but for the quality it was worth it.
This past Sunday we went there again with a group of 5 for a birthday dinner and the experience was very different in terms of service. First of all we were greeted at the door by the very effusive owner (like last time) but his hair was all wild and he was wearing a grease stained blue and yellow t-shirt and jeans. That greeting was a precursor of things to come.
The food, again, was excellent. I would particularly recommend the scallop carpaccio which was very very fresh and flavorful. All of the salads were delicious with a nice vinaigrette that didn't overpower the greens. The duck prociutto was exquisite. The lamb entree was beautifully cooked and very tender. Nothing in the food was at all lacking. The waitress had a very weary, harried air about her that got worse as the night wore on. At one point she explained away her attitude and her lapses saying that someone had called in sick. That's a shame but she seemed to be taking it out on us. We ordered a large bottle of San Pelligrino and because they didn't have any large bottles it took about 45 minutes to get a smaller one to our table...tho we could see it sitting on the bar. They brought the smaller bottle and then 30 minutes later brought the other one, even tho we told them we only wanted one, and of course we were charged for it. It was deducted from our bill with a flounce and a roll of the eyes from our waitress. Alas!
I would definitely recommend this restaurant for excellent high-quality bistro fair. The service lapses and attitudes were annoying but didn't kill our evening. I hope that the service lapses were just that night and that other diners in the future will not experience it.
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