Let me first say that I am very forgiving when it comes to service level in New Orleans. My experience has been that service in New Orleans restaurants and hotels, while it can be very good, generally is not at the level found in many other major cities. (Please don't flame me. I recognize this is a gross generalization and that many restaurants provide excellent service.) And although the problem is not nearly as bad as it was a year ago, the city still suffers from a post-Katrina shortage of help. That said, every place seems, for the most part, to have been able to get its act together except for the Pelican Club.
The last time I ate at the Pelican Club was in late April, when I found myself in the Quarter at dinner time without reservations. A friend and I ended up wandering in to the Pelican Club and ate at the bar. I remember clearly that although the bartender was very enthusiastic, he was an amateur, botching both drink and food orders.
Last night I found myself in a similar situation: I was in the Quarter around 8:30 without dinner reserations. We had lunched at Coop's, so that was out. We wandered by Irene's, where the wait was 90 minutes. We stuck our head into Stella, where they could not have been more apologetic that they couldn't seat us, even though we didn't have a reservation. So I quickly logged on to opentable and found we could get a reservation to be seated right away at the Pelican Club. (That should tell you something right there, when every other place is booked to capacity and they could seat us right away.)
We walked over, arriving at 8:35. I walked up to the hostess and told her I had an 8:45 reservation. She told me we were early and asked if we could wait to be seated until our reservation time. Now normally that would seem like a reasonable request, but there were plenty of empty tables and seemingly no one waiting for them. I mentioned that we had just passed by a vacant table for two outside and asked if we could be seated at it. She responded that the outdoor seating was very limited. I said I understood, but reiterated that there was a vacant table and asked, if it was not being held for someone else, whether we could be seated there. She said she would check, walked outside, and then came back in and said we could have it. Why was that so hard?
So we were seated at the table and were helped by two very nice and very enthusiastic young waiters. I asked for a wine list, which took awhile because apparently there is a shortage of wine lists. Seriously. They finally brought one and I chose a bottle. They brought to the table an entirely different bottle. (It wasn't even close!) When I pointed it out, the waiter apologized profusely and took it away, only to have the other waiter bring it back, telling us that they were out of what we ordered. Now I understand that places run out, and I don't mind if they want to suggest something different, but what they brought over was just a completely different wine, like they had just picked another random bottle (which I think is what they did). I got the wine list back and ordered another bottle, which they had in stock. The wine, a zinfandel, was served cold. It certainly seemed that it had been refrigerated.
As for the food, I ordered a steamed and butterflied lobster served with scallops and shrimp. It was good, but not as good as it should have been. My friend's salmon was overcooked and dry.
Oh, and when I got home, I found an email from opentable indicating that my reservation had been cancelled. Apparently the hostess, instead of checking us in for our reservation, cancelled it instead, depriving me of my 100 opentable points! (Yes, it's only $1, but it's annoying, and I suspect it means that the restaurant doesn't have to pay opentable for my reservation.)
Anyone know why this place still exists?