I had an absolutely appalling service experience today at Ferdinando's Foccaceria on Union in Carroll Gardens. I know that this is the kind of place that draws Chowhounds galore, & for this reason I really felt that I needed to get the word out -- I'd been wanting to try it for a long time & was sorely, bitterly disappointed. Think twice before crossing their threshold is what I have to report.
A caveat: my dining companion is afflicted with truly serious food allergies -- the presence of eggs, even in the tiniest amount, can throw him in to anaphalactic shock. As a long time waitress, I am thoroughly sympathetic to the plight of wait staff who are forced to negotiate customers' fictive claims to food intolerances; I too, have looked in the eyes of an obvious anorexic who swore an "oil allergy" and insisted that her dinner should be steamed. Nevertheless: our waitress today at Ferdinando's, when inquired about the content of the bread, cursorily claimed that it was perfectly egg-free. When pressed, she eventually sauntered towards the front of the restaurant, spoke to someone she claimed to be the owner, and then returned and reported to us that the owner reported the bread to be thoroughly egg-less.
A few minutes (and several disastrous bites) later, the waitress -- a blonde woman in her 50s or 60s -- returned and reported to us that, contrary to her first assumption, the bread DID have eggs. My dining companion fled for home -- and his medications -- but didn't escape quickly enough to avoid her remonstration, "You know, you really should eat at home." I'm furious at myself that I didn't simply walk out, but in the panic of the moment -- and in misplaced guilt that I had brought my companion there in the first place -- I stood stunned while my waitress wrapped the uneaten meals and then I guiltily PAID for them. In the meantime, I stood and listened to the owner regale me not with APOLOGIES, but with lectures on how ALL bread has eggs (not true), and the risks of eating out if you have a food allergy.
My companion & I, of course, acted stupidly -- we should have walked out at the first moment when he mentioned his allergy and a look of bored disdain crossed the face of the waitress. Not to mention my strange insistence that I pay after how we were treated!
Incidentally -- for the sake of those who just read this whole story & care only for how the food was -- I took a few perfunctory bites, when I got home, of the grilled chicken over lettuce that was to have been my companions' lunch. It was okay. Just okay. A little on the oily side.
And yes, my companion is alive and well. A testimony to the miracle of Benadryl.
Let this be a lesson to all who read, and be wary, ye who enter Ferdinando's.