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I know I'm picky, but....

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We went out to a local winery for out 23rd anniversary on Saturday night. I had heard from someone that it was wonderful, so we thought we'd give it a try since it's close to home. Really neat place from the outside having been converted from an old barn. It's fall in New England so the decor was pumpkins and bales of hay with mums and gourds. Pretty.

Inside was a little strange. Cavernous and cold. Our table was near a floor to ceiling window and I could feel a draft on my legs. No big deal. The decorations on the table were fake fall leaves in a vase. Again, no biggie, but did I mention it's fall in New England? They were playing rock music when we went in then it changed to classical then to jazz. :crazy:

You have to order your meals online when you make reservations. When ordering for a party of 2 (it wouldn't work for bigger parties) you have to specify which person gets what - woman gets duck, man gets scallops.

There's a tasting before the meal and you sample up to 6 wines most of which were not to our liking, but we settled on a white. The b'nut squash and goat cheese souffle app came in a large deep soup bowl but there was only about a quarter cup of souffle baked (well done) in the bottom. A nice little 4 ounce ramekin would have been a better presentation. My pureed corn chowder was interesting and tasty with dehydrated carrots and herbs on top but wasn't hot.

When the entrees arrived, the server did that auction thing. Who gets the duck? Remember we ordered online which would lead you to believe that she would know who got the duck. Oh yes, we ordered onliine days before the dinner, so didn't really remember what we had ordered. The food was set in front of us with no explanation. I would have liked to hear a brief description of what things were as in "this is the pureed corn chowder topped with dehydrated carrots etc" In fact, we both tasted the soup and were guessing what it might be.

My meal was cold. The broccoli was cold and the duck was lukewarm. The side of sweet potato wedges were HOT and mushy having been reheated in the micro. I sent it back and it came out in 60 seconds and the server was holding it with a napkin. Microwaves tend to heat the plate, you know.

My husband's meal was just plain weird. He had some sort of braised leek and scallop dish which came in the same soup bowl that the souffle was in. His side was scalloped potatoes which had that curdled look they often get. No color at all- just a white meal on white china. He said the scallops were good, but the presentation in a soup bowl was strange.

Dessert was a pumpkin creme brulee with caramel (they spelled it "carmel") sauce. The only choice. I'm no expert on creme brulee, but I think either the sugar was burned or the caramel sauce was. It had a scorched taste to it.

And here's the kicker. My coffee was instant and wasn't hot.

The award winning chef (really) came out during coffee and introduced himself to us, but we were so disappointed in the meal that we could only say "nice to meet you". I mean where would we have started? It was embarrassing and he left us immediately.

The bill for the meal was $90 plus tip.

Oh yes, since the room was so chilly, one of the waitresses had on those bootie-type down slippers. They were black though, so technically could have been in line with the uniform requirements. Although she wasn't our server, we could hear her shuffling through the dining room. There's no other way to walk in those slippers but to shuffle.

I don't think we'll be going back.

On the up side, no one called me "hon".
post #2 of 20
Sorry to hear your anniversary dinner was less than exemplary, to say the least!. Have you let the owners know of your experience? When I was an owner, I never enjoyed hearing about any problem but also knew that I could only correct and prevent similar problems if I was aware of them. While I was a very hands on owner, I could not experience every detail from my guests point of view, so I needed their input, both the good and the bad. It was the life blood of my operation.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Chef layne, I haven't told the owners, but I plan to. You're absolutely right; they have a right to know.
post #4 of 20
I'm wondering when you get to the picky part?

IMO, there is no reason to accept that sort of bad food and shoddy service.

I mean, let's face it; you knew your were in trouble right from the get go, with the serving of the appies. So my question is, why didn't you do something about it right then?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, first of all, there wasn't much we could do about the plating of the souffle. My guess is that they were cooked ahead and reheated for service. No wait! I remember the server telling us there would be a wait for the apps as they were waiting the souffles. He probably turned up the heat to get them out faster. There is no excuse for the cool soup. I should have sent it back, but to be honest, this being out aniversary, I didn't want to start the evening out on a sour note. I thought it would get better. I don't normally grin and bear it and don't hesitate to send things back.

KY, how would you have handled the situation? Just curious since I get the feeling that I'm one of a very few people I know who send food back. My good friend just pushes the plate away, stiffs the server, and never says a word. I find that completely wrong.
post #6 of 20
>Just curious since I get the feeling that I'm one of a very few people I know who send food back. My good friend just pushes the plate away, stiffs the server, and never says a word. I find that completely wrong. <

You're right. Nowadays people do not send food back. And they still leave tips when the service is bad. And they don't even let the owners/managers know there was a problem. They just never go back. And tell their friends not to.

And and agree; it's completely wrong.

All this "don't make a fuss" has done, seems to me, is trained those in the culinary arts that they can delivery shoddy goods and get away with it. With an overall lessening of quality, both FOH and BOH.

How would I handle it? Under circumstances like yours, where the primary concern is enjoying the evening, it's a tough call. You try to overlook minor things on a night like that, even when the venue makes it hard. But I certainly would have told the server that the soup was cold, and that I wanted it heated. At that point, it could have been a single sour note, with the possibility that the rest of the meal would be acceptible.

When the entree's came out, and the food was ill prepared, I'd have called the maitre' D over, explained that the food and service were well below par, and that you were leaving. Having eaten the appetizers, I would offer to pay for them (chances are you wouldn't be asked to if the place had any sort of class). I'd have then left and found a place where we could enjoy the rest of our evening.

And I'd have followed up with a note to the owners.

If, as you did, I had actually sat through the meal, when the chef came out we would have had some words. I'd have asked if he wasn't embarrased to show up at the table after sending out a meal like that. He would either have gotten defensive, or he would make an effort to improve. But either way he would know that at least one guest was unhappy with his food.

You ever notice, too, that when so many things go wrong that even the minor ones loom large? For instance, if everything else was perfect, would you, except in passing, have even noticed the giant bowl for the small serving of soufle? You'd have made an offhanded comment to each other, smiled about it, and gone on from there.

I also don't begin to understand why, when making reservations, they asked who got what. There's no point to it. Prechoosing the meal I can understand; it's the chef's way of controlling food service and costs, as he can plan exactly what has to be prepped in what quantities in a house that doesn't turn its tables enough. But those things don't change based on the gender of the patron. And, as you found, the FOH people don't pay attention to it anyway.

Something I've noticed, btw, is that nowadays wineries, especially relatively new ones, seem to feel they have to have a restaurant on the premises. And the trend is to pretend to have haute cuisine, even though they can't pull it off.

We have a similar case nearby. A winery that's only a couple of years old, with a very pricy restaurant that doesn't compare to McDonalds in consistency and quality. In their case, I wonder if they even know how to run their own business, though, as they start their tastings with their sweetest wine---probably to kill your palette so you don't know how bad their others really are.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #7 of 20


Lentil, I don't think you were being picky at all! My husband has sent back food for years. He travels for work & says he eats out too much and spends too much to tolerate food that isn''t good. Now that I work in the food industry, I expect even more. Also, since I have so many allergies, it becomes critical to send things back all the time; they often get my allergy stuff wrong.

Last week we went to a restaurant we go to frequently. A new waiter couldn't answer my allergy ??. So I told him to ask rather than guessing (which he was). He left & didn't come back for about 10 minutes. I watched him the whole time waiting on everyone else, but never asking my question. I went to the owner who I know from frequenting the place & asked. Still no server. When he finally came back, he told us our order didn't meet the minimum! We had never heard of a minimum there! But also, we did meet the amount he said. My husband walked out. (It was now 8:40 & I was STARVED!!!) I went to the owner and explained what had happened. She was appalled and asked me to sit back down. I explained my husband was gone. She was very concerned, said we were regulars - as many at this rest are) I assured her we wil be back - we will... But I just think we could have just left & lost out on one of our favorite places... Glad I spoke up!

Under your circumstances lentil, I don't know that I would have said much more than you did then...
post #8 of 20
ATTENTION! WARNING! The following is a is NOT a comment posted to hurt, harm, harrass (or any other bad letter h word). It is instead an attempt, albeit poor, at humor!
What did you expect Lentil? You were eating in a barn!! :)
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Touche', Am-Suisse!:lol:

We go to another restaurant that we absolutely loved. ALWAYS great food, perfect service, good wine selection, and the atmosphere was cozy (it wasn't a barn, though:p, but an old tavern in an inn- google Three Chimney's Inn in Durham, NH). About 2 years ago, the food seemed to change and we didn't like it quite so much. It was good, but just not as good in our opinion. Come to find out, the chef at the winery we were at on Saturday is the same chef who was at our favorite place when it started to change. Still, there's no reason for the food to be cold whether or not I like his cooking or not.

I guess I'm just not that into him.....
post #10 of 20
That really stinks Lentil
I would definately have spoken up, especially to that arrogant chef, if the food is as sub-par as you describe.

Regarding chef's visits to the dining room. While I agree that it's nice that a chef wants to make sure his guests are enjoying their evening, for the most part it feels like he's fishing for compliments. That guy needs to spend more time at the stove than out in the dining room if the food and service is as you described.

If I was in your position, I would have voiced my disappointments to the server and the chef from the apps to the microwave reheated entree. If they didn't attempt to accomodate me by either comping the meal, recooking it or offering a free bottle of wine, I would have taken drastic action. Maybe left a tip for the wait (as the bad food is not really his fault) and drawn a big bad frowny face on the check and walked out.

A cold dining room? Shuffling, slipper clad waits? No excuse in my book.
If you are selling yourself as a fine dining restaurant, yet don't have the chops to deliver it with all the details attended to, it's our responsibility as diners to let them know that businesses like that should fail.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #11 of 20
Please don't tell me that the food at the Three has changed! That's the place on Newmarket Road right? The first time I ate there was just before 2000. I went there many times before moving over here and the food was always great!
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but it has changed. They still have some of the old things on the menu, but there is something very different about it. For instance, remember the pecan crusted fried chicken? I've never had it because it just doesn't appeal to me at all- in fact, I think they've always had that on the menu for the people who are afraid to try something different. Anyway, the last time a friend of ours had it, it had been frozen and came out raw and cold at the bone. Eeewww!

They used to have braised meats over creamy polenta- hearty and earthy. Now the specials are more along the lines of stir-fry or something. We always eat in the tavern or on the patio in the summer, and have never been to the dining room. My most recent meal there about a month ago was a burger. My dining companion ordered hers rare and I ordered mine MR. Her burger was hanging out of the bun and done perfectly and mine was about 3/4inch smaller than the bun and resembled a hockey puck in texture. Sent it back and after a long wait, which was to be expected, the server brought it out. It was exactly the same. So I ate it because I didnt' want to wait any longer. The hostess came and asked if it was better so I showed her. She was apologetic but I wouldn't let her take it back. They took it off the bill. We'll go back but not with such anticipation.

I think the chef that was there when you were here was the best one. They've had at least 2 since then.

Did you go to UNH? Is that why you know the area?

BTW, did you ever notice that the decor hanging from the beams in the tavern are chamber pots? That always struck us as strange, but we, after all, eat in barns. ;)
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
pgr, it must be hard for you to eat out and wonder if the server really cares about your allergies. Years ago, I worked in a place where the servers told the customers whatever they wanted to hear. It was scarey! They'd always say the coffee was decaf when it hardly ever was. That's probably minor unless you have a heart problem.

Foodnfoto, I sent an email to the owners yesterday. Gave some positive comments as well as the litany of negative ones. Haven't heard back yet. My husband doesn't think I will, but I would be amazed if I didn't. What bad form that would be!
post #14 of 20
Flag Hill? I think I saw them mentioned in an article about using local produce.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Yes, that's the place.

Where are you in NH?
post #16 of 20
I'm sorry as well. I know things don't last forever and change is an ever constant but it shouldn't be changing in reverse!

I am from NH...Londonderry. I use to know the area very well but the last time I was there I got lost in my hometown! :eek: Once again...change. Yuck.

Don't remember the chamber pots but I do remember the fireplaces, granite (what else in the granite state?!) walls, the flooring, those massive beams and the antiques. The decor always made me feel welcome and the food made me never want to leave.
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME stuff, why didn't he just buy dinner?
post #17 of 20

eating at a winery

just an odd item ...

a good friend of mine ... at that time an unemployed chef ... went and
had a similar dining experience at a relatively new winery ...

same terrible food, same unmemorable serving, etc. etc.

he went to the winery's owner and "complained" to him about every single
detail that was "wrong" and told the owner how he should address these

the owner asked my friend "you seem to know what you are doing ...
are you a chef or something??"

my friend said he was "between jobs".

he was hired on the spot and has worked there now for four years!
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
crimsonmist, wouldn't that be a hoot! I complain to the owners and get the job?! I'll bet it pays better than I pay working for myself...:suprise:
post #19 of 20

yeah ... a hoot!

well ... my nephew was visiting his friend the bartender at a bar and grill
and when he got there there was kind of a commotion and the owner was all
fuming cuz the regular cook decided he wasn't coming in and he just happened
to look at my nephew and said "if you know how to flip a burger i'll hire you
right now!!"

my nephew knew more than simply how to flip a burger and so he was hired on the spot!!

this same nephew enjoyed it so much he later moved on to roy's (of roy yamaguchi fame), then went to train at the culinary institute of milan, then
served stints at zuni's and then quince.

and it all started by visiting his friend the bartender!! what a laff!!
post #20 of 20
I'm glad you have kept your sense of humor. Otherwise you might have torn out your hair! :rolleyes:

I'm sorry your Anniversary dinner turned out so peculiarly.
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