This past Monday, we had a very disappointing experience at Tocqueville which was made even more so because, after hearing so many good comments about it, I was really looking forward to dining there.
The space was pleasant (contemporary decor), with comfortable seating (we were on the banquet side).
The chef's "amuse," a tiny piece of smoked salmon rolled around a tiny morsel of asparagus, was tasty. First courses were quite fine: white and green asparagus dressed with a truffle oil vinaigrette; and a salad of mesclun accompanied by a disk of warm cheese (I think it was chevre) on a toasted crouton and several delicious dollops of beet emulsion.
However, when it came to the main course, we ran into a major problem. My husband and I both ordered one of the daily specials, rack of lamb. There were no written descriptions. In detailing the specials, the waiter described the lamb as being accompanied by "some greens." We thought that he meant something like sauteed spinach, perhaps broccoli rabe, etc., and we also expected that there would be a potato or starch of some kind. As it turned out, we should definitely have asked for more details, because what was placed before us was the following: two lamb rib chops atop a green salad into which were mixed some shredded lamb pieces. Having already had salad for the first course (we shared our appetizers), we would never have ordered anything with salad for the main. I also felt that this main course was more like something that would be served at lunch, not at dinner. Plus, only two lamb ribs for a dinner portion was rather skimpy. And to top it all off, the cost was $35 each. While we don't mind spending big bucks for worth it food, this was definitely not! We ate the lamb ribs (their taste was excellent, though I had asked for medium rare and mine were more like rare), picked out and ate the lamb pieces, and left the salad.
The busboy cleared our plates and gave us the dessert menus. At this point, both of us weren't really in the mood for dessert. When our waiter came to take the dessert order, we told him how disappointed we were with the main course and how his description had been misleading. He apologized profusely for the misunderstanding and said that he should have described it as "a warm salad." To his and the restaurant's credit, he offered to comp us two desserts, but we declined. And as the chef/owner's wife gave us our coats, she also apologized.
In retrospect, when the main course was served, we should have told the waiter immediately that we were unhappy. Based on the way he handled it when we finally did tell him, he would probably have reacted positively if we had asked to order something else, particularly since the problem arose mainly from his inaccurate description. Who knows?
I might be willing to give Tocqueville another try, but my husband has said he would not.
If there is any moral to this story, it is this: When it comes to specials that are not written down, be sure to ask for a precise explanation of what you will be getting.