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Restaurants & Bars 3

Lavanda, must have been an off night

Judith Hurley | Oct 10, 2005 11:51 AM

We went with friends to Lavanda last night to celebrate the October birthdays among us. We usually try for something over the top for the occasion (last year was French Laundry), but schedules intervened, and simple and local seemed like a good approach. Lavanda is billed as unexciting and pleasant. I could have lived with that. Less excitement, more pleasant would have been just fine.

We must have gotten a new waiter on an off night. Things started fine, and the small plate starters were delicious. The shrimp in olive oil was a nice second, but the oysters come in an order of six (oh well) and the waiter sez there's no way to get eight, so only the b'day kids got two. Still, things are OK.

Entrees arrive. Or three out of four arrive. The last, a cold lobster salad, takes a little longer. Not long enough longer to render anything unpleasant, but noticeable. And then, unpleasantness rears its head again . . . the second bottle of wine simply never appears. Apparently nobody could find it in the cellar, but nobody says that until we finish our dinner and cancel the order. (Obvious solutions would have been 1. Bring a comparably priced alternative, 2. Bring a more expensive alternative and offer it at the same price, 3. Bring four glasses of two-buck chuck, smile pleasantly and comp it). Remember that this place has a virtual book of a wine list -- wine is their thing. Maybe our little Cotes du Rhone got lost behind the gazillion dollar Chateau Margaux?

Then the manager comps a bottle of muscat d'asti to go with dessert to make up for the missing red. Pleasant.

But then the unpleasantness factor peaks. When the check comes, the red wine is on it. We get it removed. The total bill, after the error is corrected, is $210. We offer two credit cards. Bills come back as $83 apiece. This is becoming tiresome. We could just leave, but nobody feels this is ethical, so we call the waiter, who can't make sense of it (?) and calls the manager, who re-runs our credit cards (who knows what happens to the first charge, we're assured that it won't go through). We finally get our corrected checks. I suppose it was just an off night, but frankly I've gotten better service at TK Noodle, where the tab never exceeds $15.

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