After hearing rave reviews for a couple of years about Cafe Natalie (and even after buying a gift certificate there for friends, without having tried it), I decided to check it out in advance of taking a group of girlfriends out for dinner.
A week ago, I took one friend to lunch there. We arrived at 11:30, and there was one table occupied. In spite of the lack of business, the service was excruciatingly slow. When I expressed an interest in the wine list, the person serving us was very helpful, but the meal pacing was...well, plodding, at best.
I had the shrimp bisque, which was a bit overly salty for my taste and otherwise uninspiring. My friend had the wedge salad and thought it "fine". I had the Penne Natalie with grilled salmon...the salmon was fresh and firm, and the sauce was rich. My friend had the salmon mediterranean, and while the fish was well-prepared, the grilled veggies on her plate were room temperature by the time we were served. The creme brulee was grainy...and closer to burnt than brulee. (I was grieving...I really love creme brulee.)
I chalked it up to a slow lunch experience, and decided to try it again in the evening. I took three friends to dinner there last night. They insisted that I would need reservations, so I made them on my last trip--but we walked in to a totally empty restaurant at 6:30. One other table arrived during the two and a half hours we were there. We should have taken the hint.
Service was even slower, if that is possible. It took ten minutes after we were seated to put in drink orders. After that, glasses of water stayed empty. Twenty-five minutes after ordering, we were hungry, cranky, and wondering what we had done! I reached the point of pushing back my chair to go FIND the wait staff, to figure out where our meal was, when it was finally brought out, two plates at a time, without even an apology.
The food was room temperature. I ordered the Filet Natalie--the bernaise sauce was skinned over, and the crab meat was full of bits of shell (not one or two...I gave up after picking 8 significant chunks out of it). I ordered it medium rare, and got half of it rare, the other half medium (I don't think that quite fits the definition).
Anyway. The creme brulee was better than the lunch version, but still not super. The bread pudding was so disappointing that two friends left much of it on their plates.
Overall, a really sad pair of meals. Is there something we don't know about the restaurant? Did it change hands, when it moved further down 90?