I really am stumped as to what to do after this experience. I've posted favorable reports here in the past - I really loved this place, even after some evidence of slippage. But this was really beyond the pale.
I haven't been back since this bad experience in May. I wrote a detailed post, but managed to delete it before sending, and didn't have the heart to try again until now.
Basically, my post detailed a few indications of possible slippage - my much-beloved Sichuan dumplings seemed sweeter, and less fiery, than the other times. And so on.
But the thing that aggrieved me was a broccoli dish in a super-spicy sauce. Very colorful with red pepper in the sauce, as advertised very hot. We plowed through the first servings of the main courses we'd ordered, practically without stopping for air. So I didn't actually look at the broccoli plate until I was about to serve the second round. The florets were more yellow than green - like broccoli that's way past its prime. If I saw it in the supermarket, I'd give it a wide berth. We tried eating around the yellow pieces, but it was slim pickings. We left most of it on the dish.
We weren't getting much play from the waiter that night. He was chatting with the guy at the only other table that was still occupied. When he finally managed to come around to clear, I asked him what was up with the yellow broccoli. His answer was that it had been overcooked.
So this is where the nonplussed part comes in. I didn't want to get into a situation where I was implying (much less saying outright) that he was lying. But folks, I've encountered plenty of overcooked broccoli in my day, and this wasn't it. ("I knew Overcooked Broccoli, Overcooked Broccoli was my friend, and you're no Overcooked Broccoli.")
So what was I supposed to do? I really valued this place, and I didn't want to burn my bridges. I hesitated to speak to the manager for that reason, and also because we had already spoken to him about the excessive tax that the waiter had stuck on our bill. But I guess the bridges are kind of burnt anyway. The combination of the waiter's brazen lie and failure to even attempt any kind of apology, coupled with the kitchen's sending out a veg that was well past its prime...I just don't want to go back again. And I'm bummed.