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Cafe D review - long (Jamaica Plain)

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Cafe D review - long (Jamaica Plain)

Hummingbird | Feb 18, 2006 12:45 PM

We checked out the new Cafe D last night. Short version: food pretty good, prices just slightly high, service quite poor. I'll go back because the food was decent and I want this place to succeed, but I'll wait a bit before going back, and I'll only give it another 1-2 tries before moving on.

Long version:
I'll start with service. It was slow. I guess that's what we get for going on a Friday night, the week of their re-opening, but at the same time... still quite slow. My understanding is that they retained most of the wait staff from Arbor, so it's not quite clear to me why it seemed so disjointed.

We sat at the bar. The bartender seemed overwhelmed, and was a bit spastic. I found it pretty annoying that he would drum his fingers on the bar while waiting for us to place our orders -- and it's not like we were taking a long time, he just was full of energy that he didn't know what to do with. He was also not particularly professional. On more than one occasion, as he would pass us, we would hear him talking to himself, not quite under his breath. "Crap crap crap" was one of the more memorable lines we heard from him.

It took a long time for him to notice we were there, and ask for drink orders. I passed, because I wanted mixed drinks and their liquor license doesn't allow for the vodka-tonic I was hoping for.

Oh, the bread. There is a bread basket, and olive oil, and it's good. But we had to ask for it:

Me (After about a half-hour of waiting, and seeing others with bread): "Uh, do you have any bread?"
Bartender: "Yes."
Me: (pause)
Bartender: "Do you want some?"
Me: "Uh... yeah?"

A few different types of good crusty bread arrived shortly thereafter. He seemed annoyed to have to bring it though.

The food came about an hour after we placed the order. We got a fish special, grilled haddock. The menu is set up so that you pick which sauce you want with the fish - we got the morrocan one, which was quite tasty. You also get to pick 2 sides - we got the grilled cauliflower (excellent flavor, perhaps slightly over-grilled) and the spicy green beans (pretty good at the time, but nothing particularly exciting about them). This dish was $17.50.

Our other entree was the risotto with squash and mushrooms. It was quite good, better than the fish. I thought it was slightly over-salted, my dining companion didn't mind it that way.

Neither dish was memorable, but they were both good. I left full; my dining companion was still a bit hungry.

Service at the tables didn't appear to be any better than the bar service. We could see the kitchen window, and there were often orders ready and sitting for pickup by the waitstaff, but the waitstaff seemed perpetually behind.

The menu is pretty diverse. Entrees start at $12.50 for the burgers and fish tacos, with a lot of options in the $15-18 range, and then up to the moroccan lamb for $22 or so.

If they really want it to be a nightly option in JP, they might want to add a couple more $12-14 options beyond burgers (for $12 I can get a good burger plus a beer at Costello's or Dogwood, and the service is better.)

Tab was ~$40 including tip for 2 entrees (no drinks/apps/dessert). Not outrageous, but perhaps $1-2 more more per entree than we thought it was worth. It was about 2 hours from start to finish.

Last complaint: the kitchen exhaust system isn't powerful enough. The restaurant smells good, but your clothes will retain the odor, particularly if you use the coatrack near the kitchen.

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