This is the email I sent to Commander's after my dinner there Mon night. Wow, have any of you locals noticed a significant drop off post Katrina? Just curious if I just caught them on a really, really, really bad night.
I was in town with 3 people earlier this week. None had been to Commander's so (having been a half dozen times or so) I insisted we go to dinner there. Also, this was my first trip post Katrina.
In a nutshell, incredibly disappointed. First I'll say I'm well aware of the fine dining movement away from jacket/tie and all of the other formalities. So the fact that Commander's has joined in doesn't bother me all that much. Here were our issues from the top:
No black napkins offered. We're all in dark suits. Better linens sometimes don't shed but these did.
Sommelier?? Not sure if he/she has Monday's off or if you've done away with one all together. With a wine list of this caliber certainly a somm is warranted. Kenny (I believe that was his name) introduced himself as the manager and said, "I'm not a sommelier but I like wine." Okay...Anyway, our first bottle was off (and he agreed) so we sent it back. We ordered another Bourdeaux and 2 subsequent ones thereafter. We asked for bourdeaux glasses and were told you only now have 1 white and 1 red glass?!?! Really? We also had to request that the wine be decanted.
Our server, Jenny, gradually went from pleasant - though not particularly informative - to frustrated (quote, "hey, I don't order the wine, I just wait tables") to flat out indifferent. Somewhat in her defense, I will say we are all frequent customers of fine dining restaurants and have high standards for what we should receive from a restaurant like Commanders. As we are perusing the menu, we had to ask about the chef's tasting menu and then it was just, "yeah, these are pre-selected courses by the chef and everyone at the table has to participate". She pushed the soft shell crab special. 2 of us were going to order that but were told the kitchen ran out (another quote from Jenny, "I don't do the food buying. If I did, we'd have more back there!"). Did I mention the dining room was half full and it was only 8 pm? How do you run out of your special at 8 pm on a slow night?
Crumbs sat on our table throughout the meal.
As we ordered the first bottle of wine, we'd told Kenny to go ahead and open the 2nd one and decant it. Didn't happen.
The final straw was the food. Turtle Soup was incredible as always. After the soft shell was gone, I ordered the duck. Luckily I prefer it med rare since I wasn't asked how I wanted it prepared. And, with the exception of one person at the table, the entrees came out warm, not hot.
Again, I'm in top notch restaurants every week so I understand you may not have the A team working Mondays and chefs often take that night off. And I know restaurants are being forced to become more user friendly to the average consumer. Overall, the experience was a mere shell of the phenomenal meals I've had there in the past. Is this a concerted effort to 'dummy down' the grande dame of NOLA dining or did we just stumble into a coincidential collision of bad service, poor attention to detail and average food? I'm very much hoping its the latter.
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