Several people have been wondering about Santana Row, and we were happy to see that some of the big peninsula/SF restaurants were going to make local appearances, so we were quick to jump into Straits, had dinner there last night.
I've only been one other time, and the people I was with must have known how to order, because I remember really enjoying the food. Last night, however, the waiter was clueless, and we ended up with a large selection of "small plates," none of which was sufficient to share among the five of us. Some of them were really tasty, like the sea bass, but none of them was very satisfying. Plus, they were out of the two big noodle and rice dishes we ordered, and never brought our steamed rice order.
Salads came whenever they felt like it, one never came until the end when we wondered where it had gone, a caesar salad we never ordered showed up with an apology for missing croutons. We turned it down, and then it appeared on the bill. We all ended up with that weird feeling you get at an hors d'oeuvres reception . . . like you ate a lot, and you're still hungry, but also a little sick.
The server really tried, but service was inept, and that's a gentle understatement. I know this is a new place, and they need time to get really organized, but it's also a chain, so you'd figure they'd know how to get people trained to do the job, and up to speed on the menu. Our waiter didn't even seem to know the difference between draft beer and bottled beer. That's pretty basic.
So if you're a Strait's fan, run on down and give them the business they need to stay in the neighborhood. Santana Row is hurting big time, what with the fire, the resignation of the CEO, and the state of the economy. But be prepared to live with the shake down phase, and maybe do what we did . . . talk to the manager, give him some low-key cordial feedback about what needs a fix. It seems like they really care, and they know they're up against E&O and probably Green Papaya if you stretch a bit. But if you're not in a pioneering mood, I'd wait a little bit until they get the front of the house in order.