Jfood and a few colleagues wanted a steak and decided to try Seven in downtown MSP. A quick reservation on Open Table and off they went. The bottom line was that the steaks were better than outstanding but the rest of the food did not live up to the expectations. The worst part was the server; she was easily the most annoying server Jfood has unfortunately experienced in a very long time. Jfood apologizes in advance for the server-rant in much of this post but she ruined the meal in many respects.
Jfood was given a nice table on the first floor and the female server immediately approached and asked if anyone would like to order a drink. A bottle of wine was desired. Unfortunately the host did not leave a wine list when he seated the table and the server brought a copy of the list. She next explained that the restaurant was changing wine lists on December 1 and there were many bottles listed that were not available. She further explained that they were also waiting for the new list to come back from the printer. They ordered a bottle of red wine. The server returned and informed them that their choice was not available. A second bottle was ordered. A different server brought a bottle of wine to the table and explained that they were also out of choice #2 but the one delivered was only a couple of dollars more than the ordered bottle #2. The three who were drinking wine agreed that the substitute would be fine. The server next returned and apologized about the second bottle and told them that the manager had agreed to take a “substantial discount” off the bottle and sell it to the table for the same price as the bottle that was ordered. OK, a couple of bucks was now a “substantial discount.” Now Jfood was beginning to lose confidence in the server’s approach.
But more important to Jfood was he was there for the steaks and he now moved onto checking the menu and ordering the meal. The server did a nice thing and asked if they would like to order a salad while they looked through the entrees. Jfood ordered 6 West Coast Oysters.
Between the order and the delivery the server returned several times, even though the delay was not even noticeable, to give a blow by blow of the progress, interrupting the conversation each time. The oysters arrived on a bed of ice with a tomatillo sauce, a cocktail sauce and some grated garlic. Jfood took his first bite and he was very disappointed. They were not creamy, they were not dense, they had very little flavor and they were not a good start to the meal.
While the table was engaged in the appetizers and conversation, the server returned to the table, interrupted this course and began to describe the entrees. She was now moving well into the annoying category. She rambled on and on and on about drivel and junk.
She finally took a breath and asked for the order. When Jfood asked about the grass fed steaks that were on the website, her response was that they removed those from the menu nine months ago. When Jfood mentioned that they were still on the website. “Well we’ll have to tell the manager.” OK the webmaster was the same person as the wine list printer. The server went back to her sales pitch, stopped, bolted to another part of the floor and wheeled the steak trolley to the table and then started again with the descriptions, this time with visual props. Please, just let the table order. She was now 3/4 into the annoying category.
Finally, she kept quiet and the table could order. Jfood ordered the bone-in ribeye, medium rare, while sides for the table included onion rings and some mushrooms and asparagus and they asked if the order of fries could be half truffle, half sweet potato. The server said, “I bet after all the problems with the wine I can convince the chef to do a mixed order.” Just say “yes” and move on. In addition, the steaks in this restaurant are expensive >$40. Underneath the steak choices are sauce choices, each of which you can order for $2. Yes, $2 for a sauce. C’mon Seven restaurant that is HORRIBLE and cheap. Jfood looked at the server and asked, “Are you telling me you are going to charge $2 for a sauce on a $50 steak?” She went on to describe the sauces. She was now fully in the annoying category.
After they ordered, they returned to their appetizers. As the dishes were being cleared she interrupted the conversation yet again, “OK the steaks are starting to get cooked now.” Inhale and breathe slowly.
The entrees arrived and Jfood's steak looked great. Jfood always immediately checks for doneness and when he cut into the meat it was absolutely perfectly cooked. OMG it looked great. His first bite confirmed that this was a GREAT steak. Then Jfood decided to check the sides. The onion ring was 95% breading, blech, the sweet potato fries were OK, but not great, the truffle fries were somewhat better. The asparagus were limp and overcooked but the mushrooms were nice. The down side to each was they sat too long before bringing them to the table and they were all delivered luke-warm. Another ding to the service. The great news was the meat was perfectly cooked, the flavor was outstanding, tender, juicy, as good as any steak Jfood has ever eaten.
The server arrived and said, “Can we all please check the temperature of your steaks?” Good idea but her tableside manner had already set Jfood in a bad way and her sing-songy approach hit another nerve. Jfood only wished she would disappear and let them enjoy their meal and each other’s company. Halfway through the entrée she returned. Now what? “Make sure we leave room for dessert.” Then she went into a detailed description of each dessert, while the table was eating their entrees and sides. And her crescendo was “…and the Bananas Foster will be made tableside by you know who?” Jfood was voting for Lord Voltamoor. Please just leave them alone.
The entrees were completed, dishes cleared and dessert menus delivered. The server returned and went through her used-car salesman pitch on absolutely every choice, yet again. Major buzz kill. But Jfood ordered an espresso. It was delivered with a small cube of sugar, but no spoon. Jfood flagged the server and asked for a spoon for the espresso. She dropped two plastic swizzle sticks from the bar and left. Jfood just stared at them. Are you kidding? A few minutes later the waitress returned and Jfood said to her, “this is an espresso, not a cocktail and I asked for a spoon, not two swizzle sticks.” She returned with a teaspoon and said, “I could not find a demitasse spoon so here’s a teaspoon.” By this time the espresso had lost it’s temperature. In fairness the waitress did offer a replacement. Jfood cut his losses and drank on.
The bill as delivered and paid and included was a business card. The card was the name of the server, under her name was “Server” with all the restaurant information. Jfood is unclear what purpose this served. Maybe the restaurant should consider getting the wine list printed in lieu of the business cards. That would be a better customer focused move.
Bottom line is the space is wonderful and the steaks are great. Downsides include the lack of a wine list is silly, the oysters were fair at best, and the sides were OK but nothing special. The major downside was the service. At this level of prices, the service should not be so intrusive and ridiculous that it made what would have been a great meal into a bad memory. It is about the food and the people at the table, not the server. This one almost ruined a meal.
SEVEN | The Steakhouse
700 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403