Afer a lot of careful planning and constructing high hopes for a very short mini vacation, I'd settled on Bistro St. Tropez for dinner this past Wednesday.
First of all, what's with covering up the linens with white paper? Maybe I can understand it as a lunch thing. Linen service isn't exactly cheap. But dinner? For a second I thought the server was going to come over with a crayon and scribble his name in front of my plate. I also thought it was a bit bright inside for dinner. I know it is bistro style and not fine dining five star service but from the rest of the posturing done inside the place it was a bit odd to sit down to paper covered linen and light that was almost bright enough to recieve a dental exam. Turning down the lights doesn't cost any money, does it?
I could have excused the incongruity of the atmostphere if the rest of the meal had made up for it. Classic French? I don't think so. Not that to make me happy, it has to be all about the frog legs and escargot but I was told the menu, food and service at this restaurant is impeccable and classicaly French.
I was told that the servers at this spot were exceptionally adept in assisting its patrons with pairing wine with their food. We ordered glasses of wine for apetizers and salads and a bottle of wine for the rest of our meal. I was given the wrong glass of wine and nearly had to set bear traps to get someone to notice that I needed assistance. I thought I'd finally snared someone to correct the problem but then had to wait an inexcusable amount of time however, to receive the correct wine. When we ordered the bottle for later in our evening we were told that they were out of that particular bottle. Remembering what I'd read about the servers' talent for picking wine I asked for a suggestion and the server immediately pointed to the most expensive bottle and told me that I would love this wine. Curious.
The apetizers were adequate. The anchovie tart is definately misrepresented on the menu and I thought it curious that the skin was left on for plating. The cheese plate was fine. Unimpressive but presented well.
The salad course was good. No complaints on that alone.
Entrees. I ordered the lamb. The dish was accompanied by mashed potatoes that were actually cold and tasted very bland. While I understand that not everything on your plate needs to be bursting with flavor and mashed potatoes don't always have to be fused with garlic or anything else, it is nice if they are at least a bit warm to the touch.
The lamb itself was not tender as it was overcooked and therefore it was also difficult to pick up the lavendar scent or any of the other seasonings that should have enhanced the natural flavor of the meat. The server did not ask for a temp when I ordered the dish and I later assumed (incorrectly) that the kitchen must default to a med-rare temp as is proper unless the patron specifies otherwise so I never said anything before the dish came out. (Not that I COULD have if I'd wanted to since I was running low on bear traps. )
My boyfriend ordered the risotto. It was supposed to be of the wild mushroom variety with parmesean crusted veal loin. You know, in this age of a health consious exersise minded society, you order something like risotto as an indulgence. It should be rich, creamy, and decadent. It should make a small grin appear on my lips that tells a passer-by that I'm engaging in something almost as evil as the grinch trying to steal Christmas. First of all, the veal loin was not only extremely over cooked, (it looked as though it had been sitting on the side of a saute pan for an hour and had been scraped up with a spatula) it was about the size of two quarters sitting side by side. The risotto itself lacked that toasted to perfection look upon presentation and upon taste was an utter atrocity. Creamy? This was far from creamy. It was crunchy. Literally. It was so underdone that it was crunchy. Aside from that, the flavor was almost watery. No where near the expected plunge into a rich velvety compilation of textures and flavors that you anticipate when you order a dish like this one.
With about two fork-full little lumps missing from the plate we waited and waited and WAITED for assistance. When our server finally came to the table after many cold hard stares, and asked how everything was, my boyfriend explained that his dish was underdone and he wouldn't be eating it. The server told us that if he wanted to order something else, to let him know.
He left the plate on the table and never returned. Not even to offer a menu so that he could order something else.
We sat with a plate of uneaten risotto on our table for a long, long time. When the server finally returned, and we noted that the dish was never removed from our table, we basically were told that the service in this restaurant is run as a team effort so it wasn't his fault. While we understand French brigade style service, we're not sure we understand why that should mean a poor experience for patrons. Eventually both our dishes were cleared and we took a gamble and decided to eat dessert. I don't know why, but for some reason I thought dessert would be a salvaging call for the kitchen. The menu looked good.
Dessert was also a let down. I ordered a pear and almond tart with ice cream and my boyfriend ordered a chocalate dessert. Nuff' said.
My boyfriend ordered coffee. Not to sound like I'm just all about slamming this place but honestly... I'm not a coffee expert by any means of the imagination but when I say that the coffee SUCKED....
If someone like ME is saying the coffee sucked than it's pretty sad!
The server brought our check and told us that the coffee was on him. We looked at the check and the coffee wasn't listed but the risotto was. Are you kidding me? My boyfriend asked the server why we were being charged for the dish, the server became very excited and told us that he'd have to talk to manager if he was going to take off something like that. We told him to please do speak to the manager. I watched him leave the table and sort of walk in circles for a few minutes. He never approached a manager and I don't believe there was one that evening. (this felt like trying to buy a car... "gotta go talk to the 'manager'")He returned and told us he couldn't take something off of a check if he didn't have a reason to type into the computer. After about five minutes of near arguing he finally left to enter in a reason into his computer.
I wouldn't recommend, or return to this sham of an upscale dining spot if someone paid me to do so. I was insulted by the entire experience. If I'm going to eat off of a sheet of paper than I'll gladly go to Macaroni Grill. The service and food are better and they aren't pretending to be upscale.