Yesterday, I met a friend of mine for lunch at d.carlo in Smithfield, RI. This has always been one of my favorite restaurants (as well as hers) - excellent food matched by unparalleled service. My experience yesterday was just the opposite.
I should say that about three months ago, I had a bad experience on a Saturday night for dinner. I was with another friend, whom I took for her birthday, and the service was awful (keep in mind, it was NOT a busy Saturday night in the restaurant). The food was as agood as always, but the service was terrible, The waitress blamed the kitchen, the owner (whom we complained to as we were leaving, when he asked 'Was everything OK this evening?") actually blamed the waitress (said she was having an 'off night'). The "blame game" put me off for a few months - until yesterday for lunch.
We arrived at 1:00 (they end lunch at 2:30, according to whoever answered the phone when I called) to a nearly empty restaurant. One waiter sat us, and gave us dinner menus. I asked him for lunch menus, and he answered "It's just the one menu now." My friend and I didn't feel like ordering big heavy dinner portions, so we settled on four appetizers to share. The waiter took our drink order (2 sodas) and left.
A few minutes later, we had a waitress drop off our drinks, and take our order. When she took the menus from us, she asked if the waiter gave us lunch menus - I told her no, just those. She rolled her eyes and walked away. Huh? (She could have suggested, 'Did you want to take a look at the lunch menu before I put the order in?") So now we knew we could have ordered lunch there as we planned, but didn't say anyhting - we were settled with our choices. We did ask for her to bring out all four apps together, though (two were to be served hot).
She brought out one appetizer (which was a hot appetizer, but was luke-warm) even though we asked for all four to be served together. She claimed we didn't tell her that. Huh?
We then asked if we could have some bread, which she asked with a surprised tone, "You wanted bread?" I told her they always served their delicious bread at lunch and dinner - or did they change? (We noticed a table next to us had the bread basket, as well). A few minutes later she brought us the bread - with no bread plates. (We grabbed some off another table).
She then brought out the other three appetizers, and in the commotion of her trying to arrange the other three plates on the table, she cleared the plate of the first one - even though we weren't finished! We noticed this once we looked down at the re-arranged table, (The other apps weren't as good as they usually are, either - very, very bland).
When she came back to check on us, we told her about the first appetizer - and that we hadn't finished it. She told us she asked, and we said we were finished - so that's why she took it away. Huh? No apology - just her 'matter of fact' answer, which we didn't respond to at all.
By that time, the waiter who originally started with us came back, and said he would be taking over from that point. We did order coffee and a dessert to split, and that was the best part of the lunch. The whole bill - without tip or tax - came to just over $60.
At this point, we have indeed decided we won't be returning there any time soon, nor can we recommend the place any longer. I was telling another friend about it this morning (he and his wife were Saturday night regulars there for the longest time) and he told me the place started slowly going down-hill last Fall, and they haven't been back since the Winter . (He said the owner was not too receptive to his concerns wheninformed about them, even though he knew they are regulars there).
Has anyone else noticed the changes at this restaurant, and what do you think is going on there? It's certainly not up to the standards it once set for itself many years ago when it first opened. Do you think they have just gotten 'too comfortable' and are slacking off?