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Fine Dining WITHOUT the Southern Hospitality: Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina


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Fine Dining WITHOUT the Southern Hospitality: Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina

flobow | Aug 30, 2009 09:44 PM

My family, friends, and I were in North Carolina for my graduation from Chapel Hill. While there, we decided to take in the Magnolia Grill because of its reputation for fine food in a nice atmosphere. Once we arrived, the nightmare began. We were seated promptly in front of an area through which one could view the kitchen and an area highly trafficked by the wait staff. We promptly asked to be moved to another table (it was a Thursday night and at no time during our visit did the restaurant fill to capacity). We were curtly denied by the manager who said that there were no other tables available for a party of 5 even though we saw several that could have been pushed together to meet our needs.

We ordered drinks from the bar and had 4 appetizers while waiting for our entrees. When my 79 year old mother received her veal chop, she found it too salty and was asked by our server if she would like to return it, to which my mom replied yes. Since we could see into the kitchen, we were able to witness the manager pow wowing with the cooks...a few seconds later, the manager returned to our table with my mother's plate and asked her what was wrong with the plate. My mother responded that she found the chop too salty and felt that it would not be good for her to consume so much salt because she has hypertension. The manager responded: "The plate has been prepared the way it was supposed to be and therefore, you will have to pay for it. Of course, you are free to order another entree, but I will have to charge for that as well." My mother declined and sat there without anything while the 4 of us ate our dinner. Needless to say, we were very embarrassed and felt humiliated. Adding to our humiliation was the obvious discomfort of our server who was excellent and tried her best to make the best of what she clearly recognized, as a bad situation.

During the dessert course, our very sweet server brought complimentary desserts for my mother and one for the table. At no time did the manager come over to apologize or to see how things were going. The coup de grace was during dessert when we were fortunate (because of where we were sitting) to be able to witness the cooks spraying cleaning fluids over the hood of the stoves and ovens at the end of the night. It's hard for us to believe that this is the "best" of fine dining in North Carolina. We will never return to the Magnolia Grill, we won't tell others to go, and we will discourage all those who tell us they are even considering the place.

Disappointed in Durham

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