One of our favourite restaurants has met a nasty fate. It has been sold to new owners who don’t quite seem to know what they want to do with it.
We didn’t know it had changed hands. We had decided that after I had been sick in bed for the entire Pesach holiday that we would treat ourselves to a family night out. So we chose a place that has been the site of many a meal with friends, a few celebrations, even a catered party once. It was always packed, so we debated ordering a table, but then decided that we would go early before the rush and hope for the best.
Our first clue that change had been afoot was when we arrived and saw that in the large spacious dining room there was exactly… one table occupied. Also immediately apparent was the absence of the long thick wooden trestle tables and benches – instead were more utilitarian cafeteria tables and chairs and brighter lighting. Kid was dismayed that the computer screens with menu, quizzes, and other interesting things were no longer on the wall at each table. Well, change can also be good, we decided to sit down and check out the menu.
The range of dishes on the new menu was just as varied and elegant as the former incarnation of the restaurant. We were encouraged. So far we had only seen one waitress, she was very friendly. There were sounds from back in the kitchen, and there was a boy about 15 hauling boxes. OK.
When we ordered water for the table, they brought out a lovely glass bottle with ice water and glasses for everyone. But when partner asked for a separate bottle of mineral water, the waitress brought her another smaller glass bottle with no label, already opened and about 2/3 full. Huh? Then things took a turn for the worse when partner and I ordered cocktails as well as entrees. After discussing the options on the menu, and thinking that at $11 each the cocktails were a bit pricey, I ordered a mojito and partner went for a margarita. The waitress wrote them down looking a little apprehensive. Then I realized there was no one behind the bar. The waitress disappeared into the kitchen, perhaps to consult with the fellow there, then came back out and snagged the kid who looked about 15 and pushed him behind the bar. Uh oh.
While we waited for the food our cocktails were served. Despite the different orders, we were given the exact same thing. (Um….they both start with the letter M?) After tasting them, we managed to pretty much figure out what they were: a lot of tap water, ice, a small splash of some sort of unidentified alcohol (neither rum nor tequila), and some chopped up lemons and mint. Uh, no. No, no, no. Partner firmly informed the waitress that this was certainly not a margarita. I asked the waitress what brand of rum was in my drink and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and stammered “Just rum”. They tried again for a margarita. This time it looked like a margarita, albeit without salt on the rim of the glass – maybe the kid had a picture of what it was supposed to look like. But it was frothy, sweet, and had an overwhelming taste of…dish soap. One sip and partner gagged and covered her mouth. The waitress quickly came and swept both “cocktails” from the table, looking a little affronted that we hadn’t appreciated their efforts. She told us that they would not be included on our bill. Wise move. (If you aren’t sure about serving drinks because there’s no one there at the time who knows how, say so!!!!)
Luckily, when the food came it was delicious! More expensive (with less food) than most of the other restaurants in the area, but very tasty. Granted, my three lamb chops with half a roasted potato cut into wedges and a tablespoon of vegetables was a wee bit skimpy for the overblown price, but it was arranged very artistically. Kid and her boyfriend were very satisfied with their meals, and partner said her fish was full of bones but well seasoned and very good.
We were a bit confused by the assortment of pickled salads they brought to the table. With hummus or skewers they would have been perfect, but they didn’t really go with the sea bream, lamb chops or other entrees.
While we were there, the folks at the other table left, and one other table had customers when we left.
Final verdict? We won’t be going back there. Sad, because we loved that place. They do have a good chef. And I really hope that they either remove the drinks menu or hire an actual bartender. If they’re around that long.