I have been a loyal Bambara fan since discovering it during restaurant week last year. So, I decided to renew my Bambara vows last night during the first night of restaurant week. And, what to my horrified eyes did I find?? Executive Chef Tom Berry has left the restaurant! He leaves in his wake the most horrible disaster since episode five of The Restaurant. Oh how the mighty house has fallen. The service was so bad that I saw at least two tables get up and leave before getting served. One table waited over 1/2 hour before ever being greeted by a server, and there was literally a line to speak to the manager (a young man with the look of a deer caught in headlights). Half of our food went to the wrong table (causing half our table to get our entrees a full 1/2 hour before the rest of us), when we did get our food it was cold, we were given wet napkins, they ran out of one of the appetizers before 8:00 pm (a dish that will be served for the next five nights), and we had to eat our meals while listening to the diners at the table behind us argue loudly with the manager (the fact that the manager argued back says enough). The service was so badly botched that the $30.04 dinner was comped for all six of us at the table. I suspect that the management has also changed hands recently, perhaps causing Chef Tom to leave?
Nights like this make you think restaurants should not have open kitchens. The scene behind the house was frantic, unorganized, messy and highly inconsistent. When we arrived at the restaurant, we drooled as huge portions of hanger steak floated by only to be disappointed when a tasting sized portion was presented to us - a serving about a quarter of the size. The night was so much like an episode of The Restaurant that we joked about trying to find the hidden microphones. On a side note, the new chef, a transplant from NYC, does have some talent but talent terribly wasted. He is certainly nothing like Chef Tom.
So, if you have reservations to Bambara this restaurant week, you may want to reconsider. I'm sure once the new management and new chef work out the problems, it will be a passable restaurant again, but it will not be the same! If you know what happened to Chef Tom, or what his plans are, please let me know!