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Talula's Garden: report + comping question

kasiav | Jun 18, 201209:50 AM

The garden is a really lovely place to dine on a warm night, and much quieter compared to the lively dining room acoustics. Our server was very helpful and pointed out some of her favorites – there was a hard sell on the cheeses but as it was fairly late (9pm seating, restaurant was at capacity) we decided to skip and go straight for two pasta appetizers: Fresh Jersey Clams in Pino Gris Broth, Summer Herbs, Chile, Green Garbanzo, and Pasta alla Chittarra and Sweet Pea Ravioli with Goat Butter Sauce, Snap Peas, Shoots, and Grated Aged Goat Cheese. Both courses were very light, the pasta very fine, delicate and tender. The Jersey Clams were tiny and plentiful with a nice serving of the noodles – a light subtle summer dish that did not taste spicy at all. I preferred the Sweet Pea Ravioli, though from the description we were expecting a much richer, goaty dish. The sauce was tasty but again, very light, and very seasonal. This was a much smaller portion in comparison to the clams and noodle dish.

For mains we ordered the Halibut “Rockefeller” with New Potatoes, Creamed Nettles, Spinach, Chives, and Sherry Bacon Vinaigrette and the Rhubarb Glazed Muscovy Duck Breast with Confit Leg, Pickled Rhubarb and Beluga lentils served in au jus. The duck was hearty without being heavy, the tart rhubarb complimenting the slight gamey flavor well. The lentils weren’t anything special but hey, they are lentils. The Halibut was very tasty, a nice crispy filet served over a more veg heavy version of creamed spinach with a plentiful amount of twice fried bacon crumbles. This dish was very flavorful between the vinegar, bacon fat, fish and spinach/nettle puree.

Unfortunately, my fish was raw in the middle – not undercooked, but raw and pink to the point that the fish wouldn’t flake with a fork. I showed the server and asked if they could just refire the fish, saying everything tasted great, but the fish was raw – she agreed and apologized, no problem. As I waited, the manager came by and introduced herself, apologizing for the fish and said that the chef will be plating a fresh dish and to let her know if there were any other issues – ok great, no problem, I told her I was sure we wouldn’t need to bother her again and stressed how great everything else had tasted so far. It was probably another 15 minutes before the replacement dish came out, cooked perfectly and tasting great, though by now my partner’s duck was cold.

When the check came, we were not comped anything for the mishap and not offered complimentary dessert. At the time, I was a little surprised though I wasn’t too bothered since they did, after all, correct their original mistake. However, on our walk home, my partner mentioned he was a little upset, noting he had saved up for this special meal and it wasn’t just about the food issue itself, but the pacing of our meal was thrown off as he had to choose to either eat solo while I looked on as I waited for my fish or to wait with me and let his dinner get cold. I do see his point but I also wonder if it is unfair to come to expect comps when the kitchen makes a mistake such as this one. Chowhounders, what do you think? Should the restaurant offered something more than just correcting their error?

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