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Bad Experience at Church & State (long)

medrite | Sep 13, 2009 03:53 PM

I had dinner with 3 friends at Church & State last night. We arrived on time for a 6:45 reservation and they seated us promptly. The waiter came & took our order -- since we're all foodies, we ordered 6 appetizers among the 4 of us, then main courses. They brought out the appetizers in 2 shifts, which was fine with us because we were sharing everything anyway.

After the second round of appetizers, the waiter came over and asked if we wanted coffee or dessert. Uh, what about our main courses? Whoops, sorry, I'll check with the kitchen. About 10 minutes later the mains came out. Foodwise, everything was superb -- all I'd anticipated and more. We also shared a bottle of wine among the 4 of us.

After the main course the waiter came to take our dessert order. Then he vanished, and after about 20 minutes we started wondering, where's the dessert? By this time it was after 8, and on a Saturday night, the place was absolute pandemonium. We finally managed to flag down the manager to ask about our desserts. We also told him the waiter had already screwed up by forgetting our main courses. Another person at the table said the manager told her later that he's had trouble with that waiter before and tries to give him the least crowded tables. Uh, so you put this guy to work during the busiest night of your week? Anyway, we waited, and waited, and waited. We finally had decided to just cancel the dessert order when they magically appeared, along with one we hadn't asked for, as an appeasement. The waiter muttered something about our ticket having gotten lost in the kitchen. The manager said there would be no charge for any of the desserts, and also gave us each a glass of Sauternes on the house. OK, great.

So imagine our surprise when the check came out and we were each charged for 2 glasses of Sauternes, as well as for 2 bottles of wine, when we'd only had one! So again, we had to hunt down the manager, no small feat in this packed restaurant, and wait while he fixed the check. That took him so long that we seriously considered just walking out without paying. But finally the corrected check came. We paid, but left no tip.

I have to say the food was terrific, and the staff clearly did try to do the right thing when we brought the problems to their attention. Nevertheless, for a place as ambitious as this, you'd think they would have this stuff down. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, but this consistent train of errors makes me think the place has some serious problems with management and/or organization, or maybe its popularity has overwhelmed its capacity. A meal that should have taken perhaps 2 hours at a leisurely pace wound up stretching out to nearly 3. We all had had very high expectations for this place, and needless to say we were quite disappointed.

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