We are fans of the Citarella market, but had a pretty disasterous meal at the restaurant tonight . I thought I would share the experience in the hope some of you will not be similarly disappointed. The food had potential, but the meal was ruined by some of the worst service I've experienced in a restaurant in its price range. I'll try not to bore you all with too many details.
I have to begin by noting that my wife is deathly allergic to sesame seeds or sesame oil, so it is naturally part of our ordering routine to make sure what she orders is sesame-free. The waiter this evening had this bizarre attitude (first time we've encountered this one) where he rambled on for 5-10 minutes about his own analysis of whether a dish had sesame, trying to recite the entire ingredient list, instead of simply asking the chef, as any sensible waiter would do--, and as we requested he do, since there's no margin for error here! Rather than checking with the chef, he speculated and caused my wife undue anxiety about her choices, and this caused her to play it safe and pick something she knew would be sesame free.
Anyway, 30 minutes pass after our appetizers are finished ( they were fine--stone crabs and a delicious crab soup) and we finally get our entrees and guess what--they're cold! If the kitchen's busy and it causes a delay that's one thing, but when it is because your food has been sitting in the kitchen getting cold, it's another. Since we can't find the waiter, and he doesn't bother to check back, and we don't have much time left anyway, we go ahead and eat the entrees. You can tell that they would have been quite tasty if they were served properly, which only makes the situation all the more aggravating.
Waiter is nowhere to be found when it comes time to order desert, but another one takes our order, and we are served coffee, in a thermal carafe, that's lukewarm at best! That's a pretty good trick--was it from another table? Can't find the waiter to get fresh coffee, but a busboy helped us out. Waiter finally appears to deliver petit fours, two of which are large pieces of SESAME BRITTLE, notwithstanding our earlier 10 minute chat about the deadly sesame allergy. Of course, my wife doesn't want to even eat or touch anything off the same plate. 20 minutes later, still no desert. Just as we are about to cancel the desert order , it shows up, with the ice cream that's part of the desert half melted on the cold plate. When I finally got our waiter and requested the check, I complained about the desert (which we no longer had time to eat) and they did remove the charge for it.
Probably the most humorous moment was yet to come--as we were leaving the restaurant putting our coats on, the maitre'd happened to ask us how our meals were. "Not very good " I replied. He then asked was it the food or the service, and I told him it was the service, and his response was, and I quote, "Oh......sorry", and he carried on with his business. Not exactly the response one would expect--perhaps something like "who was your server--I'll look into this" or "what exactly went wrong" or maybe even "please call me and we'd like to buy you lunch to make up for it". Then again, given the service in the dining room I guess it was exactly what I should have expected!