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Bouillabaise.....

Libertychef | Mar 6, 2005 12:33 PM

Very sorry to report an awful experience at Bouillabaise last night...

I visited Bouillabaise shortly after they opened a few months ago (in the current union st. location) and had a wonderful time, beautiful food, wonderful warm service.

Last night we went for a friends birthday, reservations for 8 people made a week in advance, and yes, I confirmed the that they still didn't have a liquor license....We arrived to find the restaurant over booked, and the harried manager snapped, "I still don't know where I'm putting you..." Shortly afterward we were shown to a table for 6, even though our reservation was for 8... we started to put the bottles of wine we brought with us on the table, when the manager came over and with no preamble, or attempt at diplomacy told us they have a license and we could not bring our own wine... I started to tell her I had confirmed the policy, when she yelled at me "NO! We called EVERY RESERVATION!!!" Mind you, this in the middle of a very crowded room! I told her I had not received any call, and that I had given my cell number, so there was no chance of missing the call, and she repeated her mantra: "NO!!!....." I said fine, and pointed out that the reservation was for 8, and our table was for 6, we were still expecting 2 others who were delayed at work... she said, and I quote: "so there's no problem then..." Apparently, the fact that our other guests hadn't arrived meant they didn't get seats...??? (We subsequently called the other two, and told them not to bother, it wasn't worth coming to be treated so shabbily...)

Under normal circumstances, I would have just left, but with it being a birthday, and not everyone knowing each other, making the best of it seemed to be the thing to do.

Our poor waitress was lovely, and did her best, but it was a bad situation over all.

Our appetizers were fine, but our entrees, a very easy order for a large table...4 filet, Med Rare, 2 Duck....arrived: 3 Filet, 1 MR, 2MW & 2 Duck...The waitress apologized, and we asked for another plate so we could share while waiting for the last entree... which arrived 15 minutes later.

Throughout our meal the manager kept glaring at our table, keeping count of our opened bottles, and making the waitress even more stressed... we only opened one bottle of wine, and while they brought a bucket to chill our champagne, after 10 minutes of waiting, I finally opened and poured it myself...

We ordered coffee, and one dessert to share, waited a long time for the coffee, and then longer for the one dessert....

Again our waitress apologized, and we assured her we knew it wasn't her fault...

We made sure to tip her appropriately, and not to penalize her for things beyond her control, but what an awful experience!!!!

Now here's the thing: I'm in the business, things go wrong, mistakes happen, sometimes everything goes wrong with the same table(I've had my food slammed in this very column :) )...it sucks, it's frustrating, but that's life, it happens...The problem for me was the shocking agressive rudeness of the manager (I enquired if she was an owner, because rarely would a paid staffer be SOOO out of line with a customer, and the server said yes she was...).

Had the entire situation been handled with a little grace and diplomacy, they would have had 8 more loyal customers... OK they got their license, congrats! So a transitional phase, pleasantly explain the situation, apologize for any communication breakdown, and charge a corkage fee, whatever...that would have been fine...find 2 more chairs...comp the one dessert, to cover for the missing entree...simple little gracious gestures could have turned the entire situation around.

Ironically, as we left, this same rude manager automatically smiled, and thanked us for coming...we could do nothing but stare at her in disbelief!

Life is far too short to ever go back again, when there are so many other fab places to try.

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