I have to say that I have been a fan of Ono since it opened. Always thought the service was friendly and efficient. Enjoyed the food- knowing it is more Americanized and fun- if I want great toro I will go to Koi (11th), Yasuda, etc
The space is cool. I have recommended it to people and understood when Bruni gave it one starn but didn't agree 100%- thinking that is was clearly on the fence between one and two. I have also never written a negative review on chowhound. But sadly, last night's experience was a train wreck.
-Had a reservation and was funneled to the bar despite an empty restaurant. Never happened in any previous times when the place was packed. If this is how they want to run their business that's fine, and usually I enjoy a drink at the bar, but it was unnecessary to make me wait and I feel is inexcusable.
-Server was an unpolished thug. 15 minutes passed after giving us the menu and asking for our orders. Never given a sake menu. When given one, was never asked what we wanted to order. Previous visits I had been visited by their sake sommelier (a very friendly Japanese lady). Our server seemed confused that we had been there before and that he didn't have to do his schpeil and that we knew what we wanted. Made many errors in the ordering process that we had to correct and also tried to nonchalantly up-sell the kobe beef even though we ordered the regular beef skewers. Pretty rude. I have no problems with receiving mediocre service, but there should never be bad service at a $100/head restaurant. Poor Management.
-Manager (kevin) was walking by while I needed a spoon for the ono parfait. Told him how surprised I was with the lack of service from the minute I stepped in the door- and it was not what I had come to expect at his fine restaurant that I had recommended to people, etc....sounding more disappointed than angry. He was a complete rookie and was a deer in the headlights. Just nodded, sweated a little, brought fresh rice crisps (first batch was so stale it was soggy) and had to double check the sake order. Mumbled the glass of sake was on him but couldn't really hear so didn't know 'til I got the check.
-Water glasses ignored, and too much food was squeezed onto a tiny table- sushi platter, plates, robata items. Grill was placed so close to me that it almost singed my eyelashes. They moved that quick when I mentioned that.
-Food was much worse than previous visits. Ono parfait- creamy and delicious on other occasions was hard and cold- seemed like it had been sitting in the fridge since lunch. Sushi rolls were solid- I think their rolls are interesting- and these were on-par.
Topped yellowtail was well sized and decent quality but I didn't love the miso topping- but that is not their fault. Robata beef was ok, not so flavorful and somewhat dry. Salmon chop was tasty. Lamb chop was inedible. Dry, charred- horrible. Declined dessert even though it is fun and well presented.
-Between getting the check and signing it was a 15 minute delay. 5 for them the pick it up, and 10 to return it. Any server knows to get that back asap. Especially with no dessert or coffee on the table.
Sad to say, I will never be returning to Ono again- a place I had enjoyed and was a generous (25%) tipper. As they keep their customers in the computer, they should know I am not a tourist. I can handle multiple over-sights and will always give the server the benefit of the doubt. (Used to bartend)
It was very clear from top to bottom that Ono is not trying at all anymore. From the management, to the servers, to the kitchen- everyone is mailing it in. And maybe they feel they can- but it will not be an easy task in an ever increasingly competitive neighborhood and food genre.
First time I am saying this: Avoid at all costs.