I posted this last night, but it was removed. I've modified it to remove the part that the moderators said was problematic. The post now only deals with food and service.
I went to a pre-theater dinner at Cafe Pinot downtown tonight. Despite my general dislike of the other Patina Group restaurants, I've always found Cafe Pinot pretty reliable, a nice dining space (especially the patio), and convenient to the Music Center. Tonight, though, was probably my last visit.
The first reason was the total wine scam perpetrated by the waiter. Before I arrived, my dinner companions selected a $72 bottle of wine. The waiter suggested a different bottle that was not on the wine list for "only $25 more." He assured them it was fantastic so they agreed. Needless to say, we were quite peeved when the bill arrived with a $130 charge for the wine.
We immediately complained and told the waiter that we would not pay that amount. Had he told us the actual price, we would never have ordered it. He huffed and puffed, went and got the wine list, and pointed out that the wine we had received was listed for $130. We told him that he would have to reduce the check by $30 to reflect what we had agreed to pay. After a lot of huffing and puffing, the waiter left. He returned with the same check and $30 in cash. He apologized and told us that the restaurant would not lower the bill. Instead, he insisted that he was paying us $30 "out of his own pocket." Sorry, but I didn't have much sympathy.
The second issue has to do with what we received for the price. I guess Cafe Pinot has decided to increase prices by reducing portion sizes, but some of the stuff was ridiculous. I decided to order two appetizers, a caesar salad ($9.50) and an appetizer described as "Sashimi of Japanese yellowtail with yuzu granite, pickled carrot and ponzu sauce" ($12.95). The caesar salad was about 6-7 pieces of romaine with dressing, some mealy cheese and a single, long, thin crouton. The sashimi was a piece of fish about 2 inches long, one inch high, and a half-inch thick. It sat atop a quarter-inch pool of what tasted like balsamic vinegar. There was no sign of any granite or any yuzu flavor. The entire slice of fish was just larger than your average slice of yellowtail sashimi. None of the other appetizers were as absurdly small as the sashimi, but they were not very large. The endive salad was four pieces of endive with a little blue cheese sprinkled in each leaf and three candied walnuts ($9.50). One of my poor companions decided to make a meal out of the sashimi and the bluefin tuna tartare (a small pile of overly dressed fish for $13.95 that was almost overwhelmed by the heavy cilantro content). He wound up buying a sandwich at the Music Center. I held out until after the play when I grabbed a burger on my way home.
Now I don't go out to a nice restaurant expecting them to be cheap. I am perfectly happy to pay a premium for good food, but to get ripped off on both the wine and the food is utterly shameful.