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Danger ! Danger! Il Grano: nice food, $100 overcharge

Rick | Aug 9, 200401:41 PM

went to il grano on friday night with a couple friends. i'd heard they had great seafood and a pleasant atmosphere. and the food was nice but sadly will not warrant mention here.

we had asked numerous questions about the menu, i.e. what the portions were like on each of the three sections, should we get one item from each person or would that be too much food, what was on the tasting menu (which was followed by a speech about what a tasting menu is--not my question), after which we took a few minutes to go over his responses.

when he returned he asked if we had decided to go with the tasting menu and i said no. i then proceeded to order for the table, starting backwards with the entrees. i explained that we would each have our own entree, and that we would be sharing all of the early courses, so it would be great if they could pace them out and not bring them all at once. so, in total by that point we had ordered 3 entrees (1 each) and 4 appetizers (more than one each). he said he would take care of that and present it in a nice way for us. i then asked for advice about a wine bottle to pair with our food, using one that was in our price range as a reference point. he said he would find a nice one for us. so far, so good.

he returned with a nice pinot grigio, announing it was a $36 bottle of pinot grigio, which i found somewhat odd but comforting that we wouldnt' get any surprises on the bill at the end. it was a nice wine, to all of our tastes (and complemented the food).

flash forward to our first course, which arrived on 3 separate plates put in front of us and then described. great, i thought. we didn't have to do the usual dividing up and small plating we usually do (we all like to sample each others food). later, we also ended up ordering two desserts. the rest of the courses arrived like this as well, which we really enjoyed. our waiter was in for a big tip for creating this. however ...

the bill comes and he announces, "ok, so i figured everything out for you and it's $90 per person." excuse me? i looked over the bill in disbelief at what i had just heard and then called him back. i explained that the food was nowhere near that price. he said that he had actually doubled some of our orders in order to fit in on 3 plates instaed of one. i said that we did not ask for or agree to such a thing. he said that it was their policy not to announce such things, they didn't discuss prices. i said that was odd given that he announced our wine price out loud when he brought it to the table. he said, "well, i told you it would be a lot of food." i responded that we thought he meant we would be very full, not charged for extra things. he wasn't budging and we weren't either. he said he would get the mgr to "explain" things. i said we didn't need an explanation, we needed our bill corrected. the waiter interjected saying that he could bring us a menu and calculator and we would find that what we ordered was more money anyway. i said, great, bring it over. so i added up the items and of course it was less, as we knew (about $55 pp, not $90)

he brought over a woman (not sure what her title was) who said the mgr had left already. she went into the same speech he did but was better about listening to our side of the story. the waiter was standing next to her giving us dirty looks the whole time. finally she said that she could reduce it from $90/head ($270 total for food) to $200 for food, to cover the split fee cost. we said that was still not ok. we never agreed to a split fee and there was no split fee listed on the menu. she said they charge one but don't list it--that's their policy. we said we would have been happy to pay a split fee if we had only ordered a one appetizer between the four of use. or only 2 entrees between the three of us. but when all was said and done we ordered 9 courses (3 entrees, 4 apps and 2 desserts). not ok. also, that we never asked for them to split it, we are used to spliting it ourselves. finally she relented. and we left paying $165 for the food (as we should have), plus drinks etc. i even gave the jerk waiter a 15% tip b/c he had worked hard and been nice early on.

however, it was about an hour from the time our bill came to the time we left. an uncomfortable hour that soured an otherwise nice experience. it also ruined our plans for after dinner, which we had very much been looking forward to.

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