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Thread: How much of a restaurant disaster will you tolerate?

  1. #1
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Jan 2011

    How much of a restaurant disaster will you tolerate?

    I normally make great allowances for "special circumstances". Last night however, I wrote my first Yelp review.

    What pushed me over the top was the outright fraud.

    I live on Orcas. I try to be supportive of the local restaurants. I really do. But tonight...was special.

    Our party of 5 just had the worst dining experience we've ever had on the island at The Loft.

    It was not a busy night (odd for a holiday weekend, this should have been our clue...).

    Our waitress was clumsy, and not particularly attentive to her job. She at one point managed to dump a glass of ice water onto my mother and sister's laps.

    The $6 plate of bread from the amazing bakery across the street consisted of 4 thin slices, for a party of 5.

    My mussel appetizer consisted of 30% dead mussels that failed to open. Not for want of trying, the other 70% were cooked to little dead rubbery bits. The sauce was nice though. I pointed the issue out to the waitress and was told "oh, that happens". I asked her to let the kitchen know. About 10 minutes later, a small cup of replacement mussels arrived unbidden, after our appetizers had been cleared, and I was huffily told "there, that's even *more* than the ones that didn't open."

    Our entrees took nearly 90 minutes to arrive *after* our appetizers had been finished. Clearly the waitress forgot to even put the order in. We were given an excuse consisting of "oh, the risotto is cooked from scratch..." I note that every other table on the dining deck had been served and finished, even though most had arrived after us, by this point, and some of them had risotto.

    The risotto was tasteless, bland, and unseasoned. It had all the appearance of rice left to cook in a thin brown stock. The recipient of this dish elected after several bites to just give up.

    The salmon dish my mother had selected - the fish itself looked lovely, it however was cold, and mostly raw. The waitress explained haughtily "we try not to overcook the fish here". Now, I know how to cook salmon... This was raw. And appeared to have perhaps been frozen on one side at least to start.

    The halibut dish was supposed to be served atop a papaya salad. It was not, it was served atop some other random assortment of things, reasonably-decent according to the person who ordered it, but totally unexpected and not what was ordered. The otherwise-great piece of fish was cooked to a crisp on one side, and overdone throughout.

    I had ordered the dungeness crab louie salad. This was a fraud, and poorly-prepared at that. The lettuce was not the type specified on the menu, and it had just been thrown onto the plate in a small untidy pile, oddly shaped, and then positively drowned in "traditional louie dressing" - "traditional" in this case must mean "the kind that comes in #10 cans from Sysco". The hard-boiled egg was sulferous and nasty. The "heirloom tomatoes" consisted of a single sad mealy flavorless seemingly commercial greenhouse tomato, which is a shame, as the local tomatoes available two blocks away at the farmers' market are awesome right now. The visual appearance of the dish was silly - giant spears of cucumber radiating from the sad heap of lettuce. The crab was inoffensive, but not premium jumbo-lump pieces of crab, just shredded "special" grade meat. Absurd for the price.

    My wife got a nice-looking shellfish pasta. The shellfish was plentiful and properly cooked. The pasta had been cooked into a single sticky molecule of noodle, and wasn't edible with the tools at hand.

    My wife asked to speak to the manager, and we were informed there wasn't one. We also got a lengthy sob story about how many people had just quit and that had left them short-handed. I wonder why they all quit...?

    The initial bill presented to us was ~$220 for 5 mains, 2 appetizers, 1 plate of bread, two ice teas, and tap waters. No wine/cocktails.

    Anyways, such a shame - it's a beautiful spot, and there have been some nice restaurants in the space in the past. Hopefully whoever is next will do a better job.

  2. #2
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Wonder who owns this business?

    We have one locally that a group of us went to for New Years dinner. One of the group meets friends there each Tuesday morning for toast and coffee. 't enjoy

    Our experience was just plain awful. Poor service with servers dressed in the holey jeans, dirty shoes and sloppy t-shirts. We all ordered the special which was fish and chips as the menu selection was limited. Fish was overcooked and the fries were sloppy with no tartar sauce or coleslaw on the side, no rolls or any extras. Pricey but it was New Years Eve. I asked for water as per usual, others ordered coffee which they didn't enjoy so we left a minimal tip and walked out never to return. Turns out the owner/cook is a young man with limited experience in helping his mother run a small lunchroom some time ago. It has closed but is a good location though for a conscientious operator.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    i am really using the app YELP to help me screen restaurants. I can see reviews and very important photographs. One place had a write up that made it sound high end Mexican and we were excited to go. Then I checked the reviews which showed a constant decrease in satisfaction and the photos showed standard plates of ordinary Mexican items. Saved us a bad visit.

    We are eating out less and less. Too much Sysco and too few chefs.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    bae......that made me nauseous just hearing about it. Were you tempted to just up and leave in the middle of it? Seems if they are so short-handed, maybe they should close for awhile.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Dec 2013
    They should have not even charged you. It sounds like most meals you could not even eat. I would be spreading the word. That is horrible.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Such a bad experience!

    Normally, I would recommend you try to address this on the spot with some type of supervisor. (I note your wife did request a manager). If the first conversation did not result in satisfaction, perhaps a manager or owner could be located by phone. If still unresolved, then I'd definitely go public!

    If course, frequently management will offer a replacement meal. Based on the situation, I'm not sure that would have been good. It might have taken too much time, and it seems you had a good representation of the food choices and all were presented poorly prepared. I'd give an alternate meal a pass, and ask for compensation.

    People do need to know there's room for improvement (lots of room), so they can decide whether to risk it themselves. That's one good usage of the YELP app - many different experiences related for the next consumer to review.

    Dh and I once had a horrible experience. It seemed there were plenty of staff members of different ranking, and at least part of the kitchen was in view as well. Our meal took over 45 minutes to arrive, and was icky. While at the same time other tables had been served more quickly and better looking portions. It seriously looked as if mine had been boxed for take out and then slopped into a plate upside down. We asked to talk to a manager, and even showed our food, but he did nothing. ( I think our order was coded to-go, and sat waiting). I made sure the manager and server both knew we had an unsatisfactory meal, but no offer was made for a new meal or price reduction. When we left, I googled the owner, and dropped him an email, naming names. He replied with an offer of a free meal and appetizer WITH a purchase of a meal and app! WHAT? Spend more money there? No, thanks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I would never go back, but we have many many restaurants here. You may be more limited. Still, I wouldnt go back unless I heard the place changed ownership.
    Last edited by iris lilies; 9-5-17 at 1:49am.

  8. #8
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Back in my serving for tips days (now I do hourly banquets and looks like I'm about to train for lower level supervisor) I worked briefly at a place that was a total fiasco such as this, Bae. I worked a few lunches which were pretty bad but the one dinner I worked was even worse - a guest ordered a high end tomato soup and received a bowl of microwaved tomato puree. That was it.....I walked off the floor, but not before I did my rounds to see if there were any cash tips on my tables and one table had left me a $50 bill - I believe they felt sorry for me. I'm glad I did that rounds before walking off the floor. I mailed them their apron and was done - it's not worth it as an employee to stick around a Titanic level restaurant disaster, there's nothing in it for you at all as a server. Or as a manager, too, when you get right down to it. I wouldn't go back, Bae, and I'd for sure warn others. Rob

  9. #9
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    If that sort of meal experience is common I wouldn't think they would be in business for very long. Especially in a smaller area where word of mouth gets around quickly. I worked in a high volume Mexican food restaurant in my younger days flinging margaritas and enchiladas. The quality of food was mediocre but the deviation from the average was small. I think when you get into specialty or artisan type places, the expectations are greater, but deviations into exceptional and unacceptable are more common.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    No manager on duty? That screams like a health/liquor department violation. That gets the owners attention real quick, when they have to deal with those licensing bodies.
    Short handed, OK, I understand that. Who all did they lose? Cooks, the ones that order the food, etc. or just the wait staff that knows it is a dying ship (and are wondering about getting paid).

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