For the first time in my life I actually left a fine restaurant without leaving a tip. Why? Because not only was the service at Montée de Lait inattentive and slow, the staff were also rude and sarcastic to a fault. As I dreamed of saying to the waiter before leaving: the food isnt good enough to make up for service this bad.
Here is the run-down the events that led to a disastrous evening:
Reservations Back and forth, and back and forth again on whether they had an available table. Promised to call back, but they never did so. This should have been a sign to stay away, I regret not heeding it.
Seating We were seated in what seemed to be the cold air stream equivalent of el Nina. Why put a table there in the first place if you know your customers will freeze? It would be a better use of space to add a long coat rack there as to avoid a surprise zinger to the head from the overloaded coat hook, which actually
fell on my dinner partners head, not once, but twice. Yes, I said fell on his head.
A few inches here or there, and we would have been on our way to the hospital. For those that have been to M de Lait on a cold winter evening, you know about the cold air stream and the overloaded coat rack. Avoid sitting anywhere near it!
Service We wait 30 minutes for someone to come by to explain the menu, take a drink order, etc. All the while, the other tables seem to be getting multiple visits from the servers. Again, another sign that we were in for a terrible evening, and unfortunately we didnt heed this sign, either.
Wine I ask the waiter his opinion on a bottle I picked out (Le Volte 2002) and he strongly suggests another choice (a Valpolicella). When we ask for a taste of that wine, we are told sarcastically: "Do you want to try every bottle this way? Do you want me top open every bottle on the list for you?" I show him on the menu that the wine he is recommending (the Valpolicella) is served by the glass and therefore it should not be a problem to try a little taste. (In fact, I thought it was weird that he would suggest a bottle of something that is offered by the glass, but I digress). He acts confused for 15 seconds, then finally recants and says he will bring us a taste of the Valpolicella. This is unacceptable behavior at a restaurant that prides itself on its wine list.
Service, pt. 2 The food plates arrived before our place-settings did simple cork mats and oddly-shaped cutlery.
Service, pt. 3 At a restaurant that prides itself on its food, we were surprised, if not shocked, that they did not bother to explain the dishes once they arrived.
Service, pt. 4 We waited ages to have empty wine glasses cleared from our tiny table. (We were ordering by the glass, not by the bottle, because of the emphasis the menue puts on pairing wines with their food.)
Service, pt. 5 At the end, we said that we would like to see the dessert menu and order coffee. After waiting over 20 minutes without any response, we finally asked for the check. The waiter responds by asking "I thought you wanted dessert and coffee? To which I say "yeah, 20 minutes ago now were leaving.
Just so you dont ream this post: I dine out often enough to know the difference between good and bad (meals in the last six months include: Jun I, Decca 77, Bronte, Brunoise, Infideles, O Thym, Area, among others). This was bad. For a check that was almost $200 (we each ordered the four-course tasting menu + 3 glasses of wine apiece, no dessert of or coffee, though), we left a $7 tip. I insisted on leaving nothing, but my dining partner is soft and left the $7 when I wasnt looking.
I dont deny the restaurant has charm, but the food isnt good enough to warrant service this bad.