She-who-must-be-obeyed and I decided to return to Pili Pili to celebrate Valentine's Day last night. (And also to see what's up now that Fred Ramos has departed.) Good news and bad news. The place was jumpin' when we arrived for our 7:30 pm reservation. Seated promptly and then the race began. I've never seen staff move so fast in my life. While I must be careful to explain that no one rushed us in the least, it was extremely off-putting to find wait staff and servers alike very nearly running back and forth from the kitchen. I'm not joking. It's a miracle there was no crashes or accidents. Just watching (it's impossible to ignore) was upsetting. I don't recall a single time that our waiter came by that he wasn't rushing on his way elsewhere; we never had his complete attention.
Fortunately, the dinner was excellent. We split the artichoke tarte tatin to begin and I had a watercress/beet salad with chevre and walnuts. All top-notch. She-who had the bourride and I had the fideua (a Catalan seafood paella). Both excellent. Mine was incredibly rich and had a wonderful depth of flavor...very intense. (My Cotes de Provence complemented it beautifully.) Hers was all a bourride could be, though I thought the rouille too mayonnaise-y. Desserts (she had a white chocolate mousse heart floating in a raspberry coulis sea and I had blood orange sorbet) were both unmitigated disasters. Hers had little flavor, mine had none. And when the waiter asked, I told him. He handled it well but we were both astonished and extremely disappointed.
We recognize that going anywhere on Valentine's Day is likely to pose issues--but there is no excuse I can imagine, none whatsoever, for the constant rushing going on there. I don't care how crowded it becomes. If people can wait ten minutes for the next dish, they certainly aren't going to be upset at waiting eleven. And, truth be told, everything was served in good time with no delays in any case. My last review was of Va Pensiero last week. I cannot even imagine the kind of rushing that occurred last night taking place there. We'll go back--but I have to say that between the truly abysmal desserts and the atmosphere--it will be a while.
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