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LuLu - kitchen/service timing problems

Autumn | Apr 12, 200507:05 AM

So it turns out that LuLu is open on Mondays, and it was the closest thing I could think of on short notice. I like the food, but I wasn't so excited just I guess because I go to Zibibbo in Palo Alto often enough that it's not novel, but whatever.

We arrived at nine, and were promptly seated. Our server was personable, but there were *inexcusable* timing issues that will keep me from going back. Read to the end, and then tell me if I'm being unreasonable.

We ordered six oysters, two small plates, two entrees and a vegetable side for a table of three. One of us ordered a glass of wine before we ordered food, and it was brought promptly. I requested the cocktail menu, and it was brought *after* we had finished our oysters and were already working on our small plates (with an apology), and the drinks arrived when we were nearly finished with our small plates.

There was an extremely short period of time between when we ordered and when we got our oysters and small plates (we hadn't even finished the oysters when the small plates arrived). We got our plate of bread when we had already finished the small plates, also not cool (and what happened to their bread? it used to be great, but this wasn't).

The oysters were good, and the small plates were delicious. We had the fennel and arugula salad with tangerines and blood oranges (a little small, but wonderful), and the baked chevre with pesto and red peppers (this was amazing!).

Then, we waited. It was about thirty minutes or more between the time that we finished our small plates to when we got our entrees. Maybe I'm being hard on them, but if they needed that much time to cook our entrees, they could have slowed down the small plates and let us linger over the oysters.

The entrees and side dish were again delicious. We ordered the ahi tuna (perfectly seasoned and cooked just rare enough), and the lamb shank (delicious, came with mushrooms and greens that were great, though the meat was not falling off the bone quite enough for my tastes), and the grilled asparagus with parmesean (perfect).

Dishes were cleared at a reasonable pace. One person ordered a muscat, which was brought with the dessert menus. We ordered two desserts and a coffee.

The desserts were brought a good ten minutes before the coffee. Am I being nit-picky here, or do other people hate this as much as I do?? I want to drink my stupid coffee with my dessert, that's the reason I ordered it, and I don't want to sit there staring at my dessert before the coffee comes. Not only that, but when the coffee did arrive, the server asked if I needed cream and then had to go get it from somewhere else, he hadn't brought it with the coffee, so I had to wait even longer.

Like the rest of the food, the desserts were delicious. We had a marscarpone cheesecake with pistacio crust (wow, if all cheesecakes were like that, I'd order them every time I could), and an orange panna cotta (not quite as gelled as I like, but delicious).

Am I being unreasonable, here? I just feel like, at fifty-something a person before tip, I should not expect service that alternately rushes me and leaves me waiting, that fails to check in with me (except once, immediately after the entrees were served, so of course everything was "fine" by then), that times things so that drinks come at the end of courses they were ordered to preceed, that can't manage a reasonable time between first and second courses. Everyone was very nice, and the food was wonderful, but LuLu is not exceptional enough to warrant returning when I can go many other places with the same quality of food and similar prices that won't leave me waiting and uncomfortable.

What do you think? Am I being too picky? My dining companions seemed to think I was making a mountain out of a molehill, but they're not chowhounds and the food wowed them into submission, so I'd like to hear from others.

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