Went to Aquavit a couple of weeks ago and was astonished - by the food, yes, Marcus is a genius & all - but more so by the service. It was hands down the worst I've ever experienced in my life. I thought perhaps it was a fluke, but it was so bad from top to bottom I can only assume that it's the usual for them. A few examples:
Our reservations were moved four times between when we made them (a month in advance) - the last switch being on the day of the meal itself.
Our waiter would take partial orders and then wander away from the table - like, take one person's cocktail order and then run off to get it, without seeing if anyone else wanted anything. Or taking only a second course order and walking away without getting the first... He would do things like - say, ask him a question about a dish, and he would write it down as if you'd ordered it and wander off.
The bread & water crew - rude, brusque - the bread guy would look perturbed and frustrated if you asked him to repeat anything, and just kinda "plop" your bread down on your plate - and if he couldn't reach you, he wouldn't walk AROUND the table to get to you - no, that would be too much trouble. He'd just reach ACROSS the table, getting in everyone's way, sticking his arm between two people who were trying to talk. The water pourers did the same thing - they'd stretch across the table to reach a glass instead of moving their lazy asses a few steps closer to it. And they couldn't even pour it right! Water would splash up out of the glasses, and they'd wander away without noticing.
The wine order - I can't even make sense of it to this day - something like: We order wine, he walks away, he comes back, tells us they're out of the wine we ordered. We order something different, he comes back with the first wine we ordered - "I thought you were out of this one?" - "Oh, sorry, I thought you ordered two, and we only had one left" - didn't even bother getting into HOW he thought we ordered two - whatever. We finish the bottle, he asks if we'd like another - another? Thought you only had one! Oh, the other one you ordered - okay, fine - he comes back - once again, with the first one we ordered - the second bottle of the wine they only had one bottle of. Meanwhile, we got CHARGED for two bottles of the SECOND CHOICE wine - the one we never actually drank. And of course, it was ten bucks MORE per bottle. I was so ripped at that point over the fact that, as a party of seven, we had to pay an automatic gratuity to somebody who by no stretch of the imagination deserved one, that it was easier to just let the twenty bucks slide.
Anyway, those are just a few examples. There were oh so many more, though - like the bread guy's referring to every woman at the table with "Hey, Lady! You want some bread, Lady!?" (what is he, Jerry freakin' Lewis?)
Now, I don't expect every restaurant to be Gramercy Tavern (the ne-plus-ultra of service) - and I'm not all prissy about good service either - but when dropping close to a thousand freakin' dollars on a meal, I would hope for something at least "acceptable". I'd hope that the service might be better than I'd get at Taco Bell (it paled in comparison.)
I thought - well, maybe a fluke night - a new waiter, I'm sure (so why give him the party-of-seven?) - the food's astonishing - Godlike - arguably the best in this city - I'll give it another try. But then something else happened: I emailed them, stated my complaints. DIdn't hustle for a free meal or anything - I don't care about that, just an apology. Well, almost three weeks later, and I still haven't heard a word from them. I guess the disdain for the customers who pay their rent runs from the top down.
Anyone else have an experience like this with Aquavit? The food's so alarmingly good, I'd like to eat there again, but I can't bring myself to give that much money to an establishment that treats me like a doornail.