Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dining Experience Gone Way Way Wrong

I could start off this post with a big fat lie and say something along the lines of "I'm not one to complain" but we'd all know that I'd be lying to you. I do complain. Isn't that why you people even bother to read this blog?

Last night had to go down in the books as the worst dining experience EVER. Seriously, my sister who NEVER complains or sends food back complained. In fact during her complaint I think she dropped the F-Bomb about 15 times....more on that later.

Let me give you a little history on this place. Last year we went to Sterlings Restaurant in Laval for my brother in laws birthday. We had reservations for 7:00pm. My husband and I were the first to arrive (very unusual, he always makes us run late) and I go to the hostess stand and inform them that we have arrived. They tell us "Just a minute while we prepare your table". Uh what the heck is the point of a reservation? Anyway, we take a seat at their waiting area and we wait for the rest of our party to arrive anyway. We were only 6 people. The rest of the group arrives and our table is still not ready. I go back to the hostess and ask her what exactly is the point of a reservation if I show up ON TIME and my table is not ready and its now 20 minutes past and I'm still waiting.. She had no answer. My brother in law got on his cell phone to call the owner of another restaurant near by to see if we could be seated there as we were HUNGRY. The other place was packed. Finally, 45 minutes later we are seated. We are seated at a MAKE SHIFT table in the bar. Yes, the bar DOES have tables but not this table. You can tell this table was just thrown there to appease us. It was in the way of everything and we kept having to scoot our chairs out of the way. It was horrible. The floor manager said he's comp our drinks. I rolled my eyes. The food was spectacular. My husband LOVES this place. We actually go pretty often, just the two of us, on a random Tuesday night.  We've never been disappointed.

The end of the night arrives and guess what. Our drinks weren't comped. Now what are you supposed to do? "Excuse me you said you'd give me a free round of drinks?" We just shut our mouths, paid the bill, and went on with our wonderful lives.

Fast forward to a year later. It is a friends birthday and his wife organized for all of us to go to Sterlings. Although last time their timing wasn't the greatest the food rocks. Seriously. Try the Prime Rib there. George and I are the first to arrive again (maybe that is what started the whole night off wrong). I go to the hostess table and inform them that we are here and have a 7:30pm reservation either under the name Nicole or Rody. The hostess and floor manager look at me as if I have 4 heads. Again I say Nicole OR Rody. The floor manager says "Follow me".

We walk past the bar, past the kitchen to the main dining room. He stops short of actually entering the dining room and says, "Second table on the left..." So I look around. Second table on the left is a round table set for 6 people. Perfect. We go sit down. A few minutes later the floor manager comes back and says "Sorry this table is reserved. Your party is already here," and he points to a larger table next to us filled with strangers. I say, "No we are not with them. This table is reserved for us." He says "But the Nicholas party is there." Okay thats great, I'm not with Nicholas. Again I say NICOLE OR RODY. He says we can keep the table either way...As if he is doing me a favor. The table was reserved for us to begin with just because those half wits can't read their own reservation chart....

So by 7:38 we are all seated. My sister and her husband have arrived, Nicole and her husband have arrived. We are all looking over the menu. The prime rib here is so good that it has limited quantities. Seriously. It's written on the menu. As the waitress takes our DRINK order my husband asks, "Do you still have prime rib available" and she said "Yes". Perfect. We place our order for our food as soon as we get our drinks. All the men wanted prime rib, I wanted Chilean sea bass, Nicole and my sister order filet mignon. Perfect.

We are sitting around for 30 minutes just drinking our drinks and munching on bread and butter (and I'm insisting they not eat so much bread because we ordered A LOT. We each got an appetizer and a main meal). Our waitress comes back (with no food) and says "I'm sorry I have some bad news but we do not have any more Prime Rib. The kitchen has just informed me". Excuse me? We asked for this over 30 minutes ago. It took over 30 minutes for the kitchen to be like "hey...no more prime rib okay?" I'm calling bullshit.

I tried to think of it logically. The waitress probably entered our appetizers into the computer first and then our main meal. I mean if you punch them at the same time the food will all be ready at the same time and that isn't right.....But its not what happened. I mean if that were the case you would have realized this WHILE we were eating our appetizer but we aren't. Have you even freaking punched in any part of our order?

My husband is now upset because it is the ONLY thing he eats from that restaurant. The birthday boy in a huge huff was like, "Just charge us for our drinks and we are leaving". My sister and I are like, "Um they have really good things on the menu that aren't prime rib" and my brother in law is very upset because he wanted that prime rib. The waitress saw the looks on our faces and obviously heard the comments and immediately went to get the owner. The owner apologized for the mix up and said he's comp our drinks. I rolled my eyes at that one. My brother in law flatly tells the owner that besides the prime rib the steak at this place sucks. He's tried it before and was less than impressed. I tried to tell the birthday boy and my brother in law that I've had a few things from the menu that I liked a lot to offer some suggestions. The owner insists that my brother in law order the filet mignon and if he doesn't like it he doesn't have to pay for it. My brother in law agrees.

So now this is what we ordered.
Me - Chilean Sea Bass
Husband - Veal Chop (cooked medium)
Sister - 8oz filet mignon (cooked medium)
Best Friend - 8 oz filet mignon (cooked medium)
Birthday Boy - Chicken breast
Brother in law - 12 oz filet mignon (cooked medium)

This is what we received.

Me - Chilean Sea Bass
Husband - Veal Chop (cooked medium)
Sister - 8 oz filet mignon (cooked BLUE, in other words NOT COOKED)
Best friend - 8 oz filet mignon (cooked medium)
Birthday boy - Chicken Breast
Brother in law - 8oz filet mignon (cooked medium)  (Yes 8oz instead of the 12 that was ordered)

At first my sisters steak was okay. In fact I made a joke that from the outside it was dry. The first few bites were medium and then it just got uncooked. It was disgusting. In fact it was cold. My brother in law was looking at his plate saying it wasn't a 12 oz. He's like "This has to be an 8oz". We asked the guy who brought the food and he said it was 12oz. Our waitress comes back to us and informs us that she heard 8oz when he ordered therefore it is an 8oz not a 12oz. That's bullshit. My brother in law ordered his meal in french since that was the waitresses first language. I heard him say 12 because I heard the word DOUZE a few times. In fact I thought he had ordered the filet mignon with DEUX shrimp. I knew that the number 2 was involved. (At this point we hadn't realized my sister's steak was raw, she eats slow).

Then she starts to poke at her food and audible moos come from it. She's disgusted and I'm very happy I am eating fish. Her and her husband trade plates because he says its not blue, its just medium. It's totally not medium. It's raw. If my husband won't eat it then its raw. The waitress comes to ask "Is everything okay here" and you hear 6 voices in unison say "NO!" She looks very taken back.

Birthday boy basically verbally attacks the waitress and that is where I chime in and say "It's not her fault that the kitchen ran out of prime rib or undercooked the meat. It is her fault for ordering the wrong portion size." Again she insists that she heard only 8 oz for my brother in law. But she is very sorry for my sister's steak. She walks away. The owner comes up to speak to us to see what is wrong and at this point my sister is about to fly off the lid so she goes out for a smoke. The owner tries to tell her he will fix her meal, give her something else to which she replied, "I don't want anything from you. I'm never coming here again."

The owner walks away unable to do anything. The waitress avoids our table. My sister returns from her smoke and now the floor manager walks by and causally asks, "How are things" and best friend replies, "You don't want to know, just walk away." He didn't walk away. He tried to listen to 5 people explain at the same time. I say 5 because my husband hates confrontation and walked away when I opened my mouth. It's usually not pretty when I complain.

My sister decided to explain to the floor manager what happened starting with last year. She used the following phrases, "last year we got fucked" "even though we got fucked we came back" "and then we fucking hear" "and again we were fucked" "and now I'm fucked" "I'm never fucking coming back" "I've fucking had enough" and a few other variations that I can't recall at the moment. She did drop the F bomb at least 15 times.

At this point I explain everything to the floor manager excluding what happened last year and excluding the word fuck. I expressed our dissatisfaction, how we were upset to learn about the prime rib, and how after informing us that there was no more prime rib after SPECIFICALLY requesting it that our table should have been our waitresses and the kitchens top priority. Like, if you have to mess up on an order don't let it be our table. The owner had come to our table BEFORE our meals arrived. It should have been a clue to step up your game. His response floored me, "But its a Saturday night and we are busy." It was my turn to look at HIM as if he had 4 heads. I responded, "Yeah Saturday happens once a week. You should be used to it by now." He said he had a big group come in and they ordered a lot of prime rib and yadda yadda. I explained that we were also a group, a group of 6. If your restaurant consistently runs out of a specific cut of meat every Saturday do you not decide as management to inform the owner that there is always a shortage and maybe just maybe you should order more of that particular cut? He had no response.

He apologized and offered us a 50$ gift certificate per couple and explained that our coffee and dessert were complimentary.  As soon as he leaves the owner comes back and speaks to us to find out what went wrong and explain that every Saturday they cook 4 prime ribs. Some weeks they run out, some weeks they throw them away. Uh, cook 5. But you know what. He's smart. Their entire staff is probably trained to always answer "Yes we do have prime rib". Take the order. How many people per party will order the prime rib? It's not always 100%. Ours was 50-50. By the time you are informed of their shortage you have already had a drink and started your appetizers. How many people are going to get up and leave versus staying? 2-98%? He knows he isn't going to lose the customer the majority of the time so why buy more meat that you'll throw away? He's basically converting those lost prime rib sales into other meals that would have been thrown out at the end of the night. Fuckin smart thinking man!

So my husband and the owner are now talking. George explains to him what happened last year and the owner looks embarrassed. He's heard this story before. The accountant that my husband uses for his company is the same one that this guy uses. After our last dining experience my husband just mentioned it in passing to his accountant. The accountant called the owner (while in front of my husband) and the owner was like, "oh my god. I'm so sorry. Tell them to come back and I'll make sure to take care of everything." We never went back because we aren't all about getting free food. We just want good service.
We order our coffee, we eat our desserts. We get our bills. I laughed. Once again, our drinks were NOT comped. I told my husband I was going to say something and he was like "you are going to complain about 15$." Yes because its times 3 couples therefore its 45$ and they said they would be comped. Everything has been shitty from the start of the night! He wouldn't let me complain. He pointed out that we did get a 50$ gift certificate per couple, we did get our coffees and desserts comped and to just leave it be.

The owner also told us next time we come to ask for him personally and he'll take good care of us. They also comped my sister's raw filet mignon.  I told the owner that I personally will not come back on a Saturday night. I've never had any problems going on a Tuesday night and I would do my best to convince the rest of the group to try it again on a random week night.

Overall here is my opinion on the food that was edible:

Grilled Octopus - Tasted great but they should have used red onion not white to garnish the dish. Not a big enough serving of it to charge $14

Fried Calmari - It was okay. Nothing to write home about.

Grilled Merguez Sausage - Not my cup of tea.

Greek Salad - Very good. They don't use the cheap feta, its actually REAL feta. Still not enough of a portion to charge $15 for.

House Salad - Whatever. It's a house salad. You can't really screw that up.

Chilean Sea Bass - It was good. Not the best I've ever had and not the worst either. It was good but seriously for $33 I would expect more than a 4 to 6 oz cut of fish. Seriously. I would rather make it at home for that size.

Veal Chop  with Port Reduction Sauce - AMAZING. No complaints from me or my hubs.

Grilled Chicken Breast - Birthday boy was impressed. Said it was very good.

Filet Mignon (cooked properly) - Very good. It's their second specialty dish


2 comments:

  1. You slay me...you are funny.

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  2. As always I love the blog posts where you complain! :-)

    Seriously though, the service you got is pretty miserable. They can offer you drinks or coupons but in the end they should make you feel happy about your dining experience, which really isn't that hard. I've been to plenty places myself where the staff is confused, messing up reservations or downright lying. I guess a lot of it depends on how the place is managed, and as you say there ARE restaurants where they're just bad when it comes to purchasing food. Often they're not very business-minded. I remember going someplace where they ran out of at least 3 of the things I tried to order. Don't get me started!

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