My husband and I made a trip to La Petite Auberge for Christmas Eve dinner 2 nights ago.
We arrived a little after 9pm, and the room had a few open tables. We waited a few minutes to be seated and were shown to a two-top. We waited for over 5 minutes to get a menu.
With the menus, our waitress asked if we wanted anything to drink, and I asked for water, after which she proceeded to take our wine glasses. I stopped the waitress and said I intended to order wine, but wanted to look at a wine list. This was a bit baffling - isn’t it common to provide a wine list with menus upon being seated?
We wanted to know what the daily soup and entree special were so we could figure out what kind of wine we wanted, but were kept waiting. After spending another 5 minutes sitting unattended, I asked another waitress for the specials, and she said that our server would tell us. We waited a while longer and then finally got our waitress’s attention to hear the specials, and then ordered.
Our waitress had a distinctly sour expression and gruff manner (no smiles). When I eat out in Chinatown, or a diner, I put up with rough service. But not when I’m paying good money for a higher-quality dinner. I'm not sure if part of our experience had to do with being the youngest patrons of LPA? We're in our early 30s, and most of the diners were 50+.
The start of the meal left me feeling distinctly invisible and neglected.
The food itself was solid. I had the French onion soup, my husband the Coquilles St. Jacques to start. The soup was well flavored and executed, and the Coquilles St Jacques were excellent, the meat cooked just right.
For an entrée, I had the canard roti a l’orange, and my husband a veal special (with Dijon sauce). The duck was just average, one-dimensional-tasting. Had some of the veal, which had better flavor, from the sauce, although the veal was dry. We shared a Grand Marnier soufflé for 2 for dessert, which was probably the highlight of the meal, for me.
As expected, our waitress didn’t bother to check on us once during the entire meal, nor did she come by to refill our glasses with wine.
I realize La Petite Auberge is not a “fine dining experience”, but it seems like a place for a serious dinner, with patrons who appreciate a well-executed meal and service. To the credit of La Petite Auberge, it seemed that other patrons received much better, friendlier service than my husband and me. The other waiters and waitresses conducted themselves very professionally.
I left a paltry 13% tip (I usually leave at least 20%) and left the restaurant. I am thinking about calling the restaurant and speaking to one of the owners about my experience.
It’s a shame, since it could have been a very pleasant meal, and someplace I would have gone back.