I was listening to a local "food talk" radio guy go on about how he swears off of going to nice restaurants during holiday weekends, like Memorial Day and the recently departed Labor Day. He said that it's all too easy for the full-time staff to skip town on those long weekends, leaving the helm to be steered by those with less seniority, seasonal employees and the lunch staff. Having just experienced a disappointing time at a local "fine dining" establishment which a friend of mine was raving about, I think I'm going to pick up that rule myself.
My wife and I went out to eat the Friday night of Labor Day Weekend at a place which opened within the past year. It has been getting some good local press, and the restaurant's website boasts of the establishment's treasure trove of fine wines and even fruits and vegetables picked from a garden adjoining the restaurant. When a friend who doesn't suffer bad restaurants gladly gave me the recommendation, that sealed it for us and we went to try the place out for ourselves.
From the server, who knew nothing about the wine list (and could not even tell me which wines from the list were offered by the glass) to the "assistant" chef (who filled in for the chef/owner who took the day off) taking noticeable shortcuts in food preparation, the dining experience from top to bottom was a major letdown and not worth the couple hundred bucks we dropped for dinner. [I am calling him or her the "assistant" chef, because when we asked the server if the sous-chef was in the kitchen in the head chef's absence, she did not know what the term "sous-chef" meant.]
I called my friend afterward and told him about how mediocre we found the place to be. It was as if he and I were talking about two different restaurants. Anyway, this isn't the first time we dined out on a long weekend, and I seem to remember our experience last year at a famous San Francisco restaurant to also be an overall downer for probably the very same reason.
At least the next big holiday coming up is Thanksgiving. Diners and restaurateurs can all take that day off!