I ate at a new (to me) restaurant in South Florida last night. In many ways it was a wonderful dinner: the location was perfectly beautiful; the private room our group of 10 was given was very attractive and quiet; we had some wonderful food and great wine and good conversation. We all left agreeing it had been a wonderful evening in many ways. However, I am reluctant to post a review, because I know my views have been tainted by the service. As chowhounds, I feel we are all about the food...but if you are spending four figures on a dinner for ten you expect some amenities in the way of service, no? How much should this factor into my enjoyment of the place?
We sat down in our lovely private room and waited. And waited. I longed for at least a glass of water, but none was forthcoming. I was seated with a view to the door, and about twenty minutes after we were seated I watched a waiter walk by, and then stop and do a double-take. It was as if he had NO IDEA we were there. Then he came in and asked if our drink requests had been taken. No. So he took drink requests from several of us and then asked my friend on the other end for his choice. My friend answered (wine list firmly in hand): "Those of us on this side of the table will be sharing a bottle of wine to start." The waiter answered "ok", turned and left the room. No offer to send the sommelier, no offer to take their wine choice (which had already been made). In another ten minutes or so the water showed up, and then the drinks (and my friend finally got to make his wine order, leaving the rest of us feeling awkward as we sippled our drinks in front of the wine-less group). And then he took appetizer orders I had selected for the table, and left again...even though by this time we had been sitting 45 minutes and had had plenty of time to make our main selections. Our main orders were not taken until the appetizers appeared....and took a long time to show up. Several in the group wanted to be finished in time for the basketball game...and figured with a 6:30 seating they would be ready for tipoff at 9pm. Wrong again.
The timing of the service wasn't my only complaint. It was the little things that might not matter at a diner but should matter at an upscale place. One of the appetizers we shared was a lovely bowl of steamed mussels in a very delectable broth....and not a spoon anywhere in sight. I ended up using an empty mussel shell to spoon out some of that delicious broth over my mussels. Oh, and even though they knew we were sharing appetizers we received no extra plates....so the bread plates had to serve double duty. Another appetizer was some crab cakes, which we had been told were large enough to share. And they were...but no implements to divide them with. I had only my already used fork...and was reluctant to use something my lips had touched for that duty..especially since I am fighting a cold.
Although two servers were assigned to our group of 10, there was never a bus boy in sight. My water glass was empty in the first ten minutes and never refilled. I had to resort to finding water at a service station in the hallway outside our room. A few dishes were cleared by the waiter, but not in a consistent manner. And when 9 oclock rolled around and we were just finishing our mains, we had to go seek someone out to get that check so we could humor those who seem to have March Madness early. Desert was out of the question.
Again, all little things that add up...and to me they put a cloud on an otherwise lovely and delicious dinner. Should I write a review of the food only, and warn folks that they might suffer service "issues", or should I not recommend the place out of fear others will have a negative experience and blame me?
A true Chowhound dilemna.....