Though we're fairly long time residents of Chandler, last night was our first visit to Cork. In the couple years it's been open we've never talked to anyone that's disliked the restaurant and it certainly gets good reviews here and everywhere else on the web.
Thus, my surprise at having a negative experience. I will say upfront that while dining the recent review of Noca(http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772014) came to mind as in some ways our experience seemed similar.
There were 6 of us last evening, four of whom were dining at Cork for the first time. The room is very comfortable. The manager showed us to table towards the back and along the windows. We settled in, began chatting and reviewing the menu and wine list.
I soon noticed I was sitting under a large blower. My chair was directly under it. I thought to myself "this is going ot be a long evening" as the draft was very strong. I debated asking about it as I figured there was nothing anyone would be able to do about it and I didn't want to create a fuss at the table. But when the server next approached the table I did quietly ask him if there was a way to turn the blower down so there would be less draft. I immediately regretted it as this created much fuss from him and the manager yet there was nothing that could be done about the draft (note to those in the Noca review that took the OP to task for not saying anything: I was repeatedly told last evening that that shutting off the blower would warm the restaurant and that they had another patron already complaining about how how they were before I indicated I was uncomfortable). The ambient temperature was actually comfortable in the room and had my chair been 6 inches to the left or right it would have been fine but I was directly under the blower which was throwing a very strong draft(one of the large round industrial types). Perhaps they shouldn't set a table in this immediate spot?
Anyway....it created an uncomfortable scene for myself and my fellow diners and I regretted saying anything. My husband did switch with me which was kind of him but did create a little disruption in the dining room as we moved around.
We ordered a bottle of wine and reviewed the menu. Overall, I agree with the reviews of the food for Cork - it was all prepared quite well. I liked there were several interesting fish and seafood items and I had a difficult time choosing. The sides were all interesting as well making selection more difficult. My halibut was perfectly prepared and I enjoyed my arugula salad.
The service pace was very slow all evening. Our table didn't mind as we were there to enjoy each other's company...however the wait staff apologized many times for it. Not sure what was throwing off the kitchen. With each course the runners had the diner's positions off and there was confusion on who was to be served what with musical plates resulting each time. This was actually very surprising as it seems outwardly as if the staff was trained well and the restaurant takes service very seriously. But three runners for 6 people and every meal is delivered incorrectly for each meal?
The true offending moment came at the end with the check however. At some point, the server discussed a separate check for each couple, we were surprised but pleasantly so and agreed. Then he re-approached and indicated since there were two bottles of wine across three checks and our dinners were all comparable perhaps it would be easier to just have one bill split evenly across three cards and he asked for credit cards. I think our table was caught off guard....no one minded splitting the check evenly as that's what we always do when we dine together anyhow but the whole asking for the cards thing was weird. After he walked away we all looked at each other and asked if anyone had actually seen a check yet, thinking maybe someone had and the rest of us had missed it by being deep in conversation. We had not. The three credit card slips arrived for signature and there was still no bill included. We sat and discussed this,confused and realizing we were going to need to ask for one. Again, very strange for a restaurant that seems so professional. It was then that my husband wondered aloud if the service was included in the amount we were looking at on the credit card slips as he remembered seeing on the menu that grautity would be included for parties over 6. So...we asked for a bill which the server brought without apology for neglecting to provide one and in fact there was a 20% service charge attached. As we were discussing how strange and awkward this whole thing was the server re-approached again, apparently having overheard us and NOW apologized for neglecting to tell us the service charge was included "oh, did i forget to mention that?"
Maybe it was an innocent mistake but the whole thing was awkward and completely unprofessional and really for me at least put a damper on the evening. There are many good options in Phoenix for dinner at this price point and this being our first experience here really put me off to ever returning. To answer the likely question, no we did not discuss with the manager because at that point what was to be gained...being offered something in return would not have made me feel more positive about the service experience. For us, as first time visitors this will be our last visit there.
It does remind me of the Noca experience posted above....many many love Cork and probably would be wiling to return after this one-off experience due to their past experiences.I know I am very much the outlier in my negative experience. Had we had history with the restaurant maybe we woudl feel that way. Maybe we would be more likely to have talked with management about our disappointment. But as the saying goes...there's only one opportunity to make a first impression and unfortunately in this respect Cork failed last evening...
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
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