I want to start off by saying that I have never refrained from tipping at a restaurant before tonight. I normally tip 20% for above average service, and about 18% for anything decent. When the food is slow, or the staff disinterested, I'll dip to 15%, which I believe is fairly generous.
With that said, I want to describe my dining experience at Virage (in the East Village) earlier tonight. My girlfriend and I were wandering the neighborhood looking for somewhere to eat, and we were both pretty hungry. We picked Virage based on the interesting menu, and the lack of a wait. We were seated immediately, and our order was taken fairly quickly.
After that, it was downhill. It took about 5-10 minutes before our bread came, and about 15 minutes for our drinks to come (a bottled beer and a glass of wine, nothing requiring mixing).
At the 35 minute mark (after ordering), I asked the waitress to check on our food, and she said "we're really busy." This was an interesting reply, because there were still empty tables. At about 45 minutes, I discreetly approached the manager and explained that we had been waiting 45 minutes for our food, and we had already finished the 1-drink each that we had planned on having. Without apologizing, he said he would check on it. About five minutes later, our food came out.
The quality of the food was below average, but not awful. I had a crab & shrimp burger (the bun was soggy and there were 2 bits of shell in the burger that I had to pull out, but otherwise decent) and my girlfriend had a pasta dish with seafood - she said it was okay, but nothing special. The waitress asked if we wanted another round of drinks...instead, I asked for the check. While we were eating, another man approached the manager and said that he had been waiting 2 hours for his food (I doubt that time frame, but still...) The manager simply told him that the restaurant was busy, and refused to apologize.
At no point in the night did our waitress or the manager warn us that there might be a delay, or apologize after we brought it up. We were not offered anything to make up for the obvious problems. We paid the bill with exact change, and left. The people at the table next to us agreed with this decision (it was that kind of experience...we were conversing with the neighboring tables about how bad the service was).
I strongly recommend passing on this restaurant if you are considering it. I am not very familiar with the area, so I cannot make a recommendation in its place, but I am sure there are many Chowhounders who can.
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