Last night my husband and I had one of the oddest dining experiences ever. We hadn't been to the restaurant at Tyngsboro's Stonehedge Inn and Spa since it changed from its earlier incarnation as "Silks". Curious to see if it had changed from the pleasant, but over-priced-for-the-quality dining venue, I reserved a table for a Friday during "Restaurant Week". Perhaps that might account for the bizarre turn of events...
Even at the start, our experience was not wholly positive. After we had been seated, the waiter introduced the special menu for "Restaurant Week", placing a not-so-subtle emphasis on its "value". The inference that we were "traveling second class" or were a pair of cheapskates continued when I alluded to our previous visit, and he asked "Also during Restaurant Week?". I assured him to the contrary, but inwardly thought, "Pu-lease--spare a couple of bicoastal foodies like us this transparent attempt at snobbery." The "value" wine we chose, Sterling Sauvignon Blanc, was presented beautifully and was suitably crisp and complex. The bread/butter was a solid preamble to the meal. My husband ordered the calamari appetizer, I bravely ordered the roast beet salad. My salad was very nice and opened my eyes to the possibilities of beets, but the calamari appetizer was outstanding. Generously portioned, it was tender, perfectly deep-fried, and had a delightful, delicately-applied sauce that contained hints of soy and ginger--and an inexplicable distinct sweetness. We were impressed.
We were less impressed by the main course, a miniscule dab of roast lamb in a small pool of creamed flageolet beans (what happened to the advertised kalamata olives?). Also miniscule were the portions of the asparagus and the wholly unexceptional potatoes, which came with an extra charge.
But the really strange part of this experience began just before our main course arrived. All at once, I became aware of a loud, insistent Voice. This Voice broke into our conversation, I couldn't think. I couldn't make out all the words, but it sounded just like a keynote, motivational speaker at a conference. I looked around, but couldn't place the source. Then, finally, I looked more carefully at a large table of well-dressed diners nearby, raptly gazing in the direction of a laptop. It was a corporate meeting, right in the dining room! When I said that I was going to bring this up with the staff, the hapless young couple next to us nodded and said, "We've been learning how we can get rich through pharmaceuticals!" When I politely complained to a waiter, he promised to bring up the problem with the manager. We tried again with a waitress, who advised us that we could have asked for another table. In the middle of the meal? Hauling our wine and main course? Another waiter advised us that the manager had spoken to the offending party, but still the Voice droned on. Finally--after the main course, before dessert--the staff moved us, apologizing profusely, to a sofa alongside the fireplace at the restaurant foyer. They set places for our desserts at the coffee table, and brought out three "home made" chocolates. In turn, I ordered an additional latte (nutmeg a nice touch) and my husband ordered a glass of tawny port. After an exhausting week at work, and a grating dining experience, sipping our drinks by fire was "what the doctor ordered". We were charged the full price (added up to $150) but given passes to their April 14th wine tasting event. Happily, the other victims, the sweet young couple, were seated at the other side of the fireplace. So, was it lovely or dreadful? We still haven't decided. But if we return, it will be for that calamari!