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Done with Chez Henri

lesliewh | Apr 28, 2012 06:19 AM

Last night was my fifth visit to Chez Henri, with our first about ten years ago. We have always enjoyed the atmosphere and found the food to be creative and well-prepared. Among the members of our group last night, we had been there over twenty times in total, so we have been loyal and enthusiastic patrons of the restaurant. However, after disappointing experiences the last two visits (one year apart), we are officially done with Chez Henri.

We arrived 15 minutes early for our table and were not seated for almost an hour. When we were, the excruciatingly slow service began. It took the waiter almost 30 minutes to get us our wine (a vacqueyras which arrived ice cold) and 45 minutes to take our orders. The food was slow coming out, and uneven when it arrived. The pappardelle with rabbit was delicious though underseasoned, the frogs legs very good, ceviche tasty, but bistro salad (two orders) were boring and somewhat tasteless. The main courses were well-prepared: pork chop, chicken, red snapper (special). 15 minutes after we finally were able to order dessert, the bread pudding arrived cold, the creme brulee was disappointing (well-prepared but top had gone cold due to sitting so long), and the coffee was cold as well. We didn't return any of the desserts or ask for a new coffee because at that point, we just wanted to be done with the dinner.

The final straw for the disappointing night was our server. He disappeared for long stretches, was not attentive to our table at all, and then difficult at the end. While I don't want to believe this is the case, we started to wonder whether it was because some of the people at our table had vouchers from Gilt City for a 3-course meal for $55. He asked us at the beginning whether we had any vouchers or coupons, and then told us the restrictions on the menu. We had read that the staff at Chez Henri can cop an attitude for those using coupons, so had wanted to not mention that until the end. When it came time to settle the check, it was a nightmare. It took us 15 minutes to find him, then he brought a check calculated as if we had ordered everything a la carte - we assumed this was so we would know how much tip he was due if we had not had the vouchers. Then he went back and recalculated the check with our vouchers included. I find it hard to believe that patrons who order a prix fixe menu are given a check that indicates what the meal would have cost without the pre-chosen menu, but we were. When he returned our credit cards after we paid, he turned on his heel without a word.

We all understand that in the past, wait staff at many restaurants have been undertipped by those bearing coupons, tipping only on the discounted value. We do not do that, and as repeat customers at Chez Henri, are not people who were only there for a cheap eat. But if the staff has the rude attitude our waiter had last night, they will not receive large tips, and will not get repeat customers who may be venturing in for the first time. And if they resent those with the coupons and vouchers, then don't offer them anymore. Period. I want to point out that we gave him a15% tip of the after-tax amount, which was more than he deserved based on his attitude, but less than we would have tipped had if the service had been good.

I'm sorry to give this review, but disappointed that we had last night's experience. Another good restaurant bites the dust.

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