Went to a friend's place last night. A little uneasily. Over the past few years his food has been pretty flat. Very pricey as well and we always left feeling underwhelmed and I a little sad because I didn't know how to tell him.
He sold the place but was retained as chef and I don't think I had had dinner there since the change. I used to go more often because we had a trade agreement but I don't have that privilege with the new owners. We'd had breakfast and had hit or miss service but the breakfast was decent and there aren't many good spots for breakfast around here.
So I was relieved in that my dinner was really good. The GM's was OK but as she said partly her fault since she had a dish with black trumpet mushrooms which aren't exactly favorites of hers. I think being relieved of the pressures of owning the restaurant, combined with having to stretch himself to do a lot of special events and special menus last year has opened him up. The new owners have been quite aggressive in marketing as well and it's always more inspiring to cook for a full house.
The service however was pretty funny. We have a pet peeves list we share with our waiters. It's basically our standards of service and starts with things like "Don't greet people with a number (2 for dinner ?), "Don't use the term guys." (How are you guys ?) and ends with "Don't ask people if they'd like change." (Assume they want their change, unless they directly say otherwise).
It was as if they went down the list and did the reverse of as many of them as they possibly could. From our "how are you guys?" greeting, to "Hi, I'm Rachel. I'll be your server tonight", trying to serve mineral water with ice, resting the bottle on the rim of the glass while pouring (at least she didn't pick the glass up from the table), not clearing properly to asking if "everything was alright"...
The GM asked where their new training techniques were coming from. I replied "TGI Friday's"
To be fair, except for the greeting (from the host), our waiter could have been doing all these no-no's on her own initiative. God knows our waiters sometimes do things which we've told them not to do. Or don't do things we've told them to do.
But I don't think Rachel had enough initiative to be making those decisions. So I'm somewhat back at the same quandary, except this time I can say something because it's no longer my friend's place and the problem wasn't with the food. The service wasn't necessarily bad but from our point of view comical, because it was so counter to how we would like things done. If they want it that way, fine. We're talking stylistic difference but when your top priced menu item is $37 I think a certain level of elegance is expected.