I know much has been written about CF over the years here. The long waits are pathetic and some don't like the food too much.
But I've always felt CF does a number of things really well, and if you stick with those, you'll be fine. Additionally, we always do take out, so the wait is never an issue for us. So it's all about finding what works for you.
But the last three times we've done take out at CF it's been pretty bad. Incorrect orders, incorrect preparation, etc. have made me wonder if they are on a downhill spiral. It's unfortunate because for a long time we've treated CF as a special place. Read on.
Many years ago when my wife and I were first dating I wanted to take her out to a really nice Valentine's Day dinner, but we waited too long to make reservations, and nearly every nice place was booked, save for the 5:45p or 9:45p time slots -- not really workable for us. And when we did finally get in to a nice establishment, there was the expensive prix fixe, without as much choice as we liked, and being picky about things, we found it to be an expensive and disappointing way to go.
So what we did was do take out from CF -- split a salad and a piece of cheesecake -- on Valentine's Day, had a romantic candlelit evening at home . It was lots of fun, plus we then went out to a great dinner on Feb. 15, the next night, and had our pick of any restaurant in town, as they were naturally wide open, and we'd have the restaurant practically to ourselves!
For sentimental reasons, we do takeout from CF on important ocasions like Valentine's Day, Anniversary, Birthdays, and then go out later that week to somewhere nice as well (we're headed to L'Orangerie this weekend). Only difference is now we order two salads and two pieces of cheesecake, our incomes having gone up and having decided that eating heartily is very important in life!
Soooo... our disppointment with CF's decline is disheartening. When we order a Santa Fe salad and get an inedible Southern Fried Chicken salad instead. Or upon returning said salad, get a Santa Fe that has the wrong dressing. Or a cobb salad that's over dressed. Or the wrong pieces of cheesecake. No bread.
Now I know CF employees are typically not professional restaurant employees, and the Brentwood outlet is often staffed with actors, students, people on-the-way-to-doing-something-else -- but lately it seems there is a huge drop in service quality. Not that the people aren't friendly or willing to replace the wrong items, they're just not doing the job correctly the 1st time. I no longer tip on take out orders (used to give 10-15%, but finally gave up becuase why pay for poor service, when I have to continually drive back to return something?)
I guess this is a long way of saying I'm starting to move over to the other side with regards to CF. It's too bad, because we used to love their cobb salad when prepared correctly, and their cheesecake is nothing if not unique. And it's especially too bad because I'm a big fan of tradition, and CF has been a part of my family tradition for two decades now, and it's sad to see it dribble to an end.
Sorry for the diatribe. Am also wondering if there are any other (former) CF lovers out there who have noticed their decline.