Went to Carmen on North St, North End last weekend for a dear friend's birthday. There were three of us sitting at a table next to the tiny kitchen. The atmosphere was lovely - cozy, brick interior with tasteful decorations, nice music in the background, and good smells coming from the kitchen....
Then we were bombarded by our waitress. She pounced on our table asking us about wine and first courses. When we asked for a minute she literally came back a minute later, was ubrupt and short with us. Determined to relax and enjoy the dinner, we tried to ignore her and make dinner choices. (I must stop here for a moment and say with the small amount of tables they have, I understand that they need their diners to eat in a reasonable amount of time, but it is not a pizza joint! We were paying a decent amount of money there and should be DINING. I regress...)
Fast forward twenty minutes - we were enjoying a nice bottle of wine, a lovely greens salad and really yummy flatbread with roasted hazelnuts when two of the waitresses were coming by our table on the way to the kitchen. The olive oil for our bread was on the end of the table to make way for the first courses. One of the waitresses accidentally dropped a paper cup and it fell in our oil dish with a splat! Instead of apologizing and cleaning things up, or paying any attention to us at all, the waitress fished the cup out of the oil dish and turned to the other waitress behind her saying, "Can you believe that just happened?" (In case you haven't guessed, one of the waitresses was our waitress.)
In the next few minutes that followed my friend mopped up the oil spill on the tablecloth, I wiped my oil ridden hair (with a nearby table watching with appalled expressions). No waitress came by to replace the oil, ask if it had been spilled, apologized.... nothing.
Finally, I saw the hostess coming towards the kitchen from the front of the restaurant. I approached her, told her the short version and asked for replacement oil and help cleaning. She watched over our table for the rest of the evening, filling the water glasses (which the waitresses failed to do after one time), and made suggestions for where we should go for dessert (they don't serve dessert there). She saved the integrity of the restaurant in our eyes.
We did leave a tip for our waitress, but I will say that it wasn't a good one. In my opinion, she's lucky she received one at all, especially after she didn't remember who ordered what entree, post oil incident.
Too bad for Carmen, as the entrees of seared tuna and tender pasta were as delicious as the starters. My final opinion, the food is great but not worth the price for that kind of experience.
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