by Celia Sin-Tien Cheng
November 13, 2008
This week’s winners are Eugenia and Noah. Congratulations!
Q: WHAT WAS YOUR WORST RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE? TELL US ABOUT IT.
I can’t think of a better way to start our holiday gift list and Baking Friday tie-in promotion than by kicking off with the goodies from Whimsy & Spice. Starting this week through December 19th, Baking Friday will take place weekly for five weeks (excluding Thanksgiving week).
I confess that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth usually, but since I tasted the shortbread cookies, biscotti and other baked goods from this Brooklyn-based husband and wife team, I can’t stop thinking about them. In fact, if I could, I would want to win this week’s Baking Friday prize for myself. But better yet, I am sharing them with you.
I wrote about the honey lavender shortbread cookies last month, but everything they make is just fantastic — subtle and perfectly balanced. For the season, they have these decadent pumpkin ginger sandwich cookies that are to die for (photo above).
This week two winners have the chance to win the deluxe sampler box, which contains the following:
- 9-pack of cookies from each of our shortbreads: honey lavender, brown sugar gingerspice, chocolate orange cardamom
- 3 espresso dulce de leche brownies
- 1/2 pack of our chocolate marshmallows (6 pieces)
- 1/2 pack of our chocolate chili biscotti (5 pieces)
- 1/2 pack of our cinnamon chocolate malt biscotti (5 pieces)
- 1/2 pack of one of our seasonal cookies (currently pumpkin ginger sandwich cookies – 3 pieces)
Whimsy & Spice products can be purchased through their website.
This is definitely one of my top picks for holiday presents this year!
We thank Whimsy & Spice for this week’s Baking Friday contribution!
My worst restaurant experience – after paying for a business dinner at a very posh downtown restaurant, my party and I got up to leave. The manager came rushing over, demanding to know why I was being so cheap as to leave a 10% tip to his waiter. Clearly, it was a mathematical error on my part, but the damage was done! Everyone at my table was within earshot, as well as neighboring patrons. I was furious, but corrected my error. When I called the owner later to complain about the way it was handled, he said his manager was just looking out for his staff. How about using a little discretion and tact?
That’s easy and I will keep my reply “PG Rated” .Zinc Bistro in Scottsdale, AZ www.zincbistroaz.com .
I was born and raised in the restaurant industry and having a manager physically throw the check on the table as well as have one of the guests in tears, after we questioned some items on our bill was the worst display of customer service ever. Good ole Ben Vodrazka needs a lesson in customer service. This of course is after we had just spent $1000+ and we’re recommend to the restaurant.
Classic story which we all still laugh about but was the most horrible experience ever. If anyone talks to Ben, tell the “Dbags” said hello.
At an Italian resturant on East 56th (West of 3rd Avenue to avoid confusion with the many other restaurants in the vicinity) at lunch several years ago, when dining with a fellow lawyer and restaurant investor, a large cockroach climbed from the bottom of the bread basket to perch on the top of the bread during our meal. The manager calmly killed the cockroach, but then presented us with a bill for the full cost of the meal without apology.
Indian food on 6th St. East village. Need I say more. We did not know! We were very new to town. Never again. Still a funny newbie mistake to remember.
Hell’s Kitchen (the actual name of the Mexican restaurant on 9th Ave bet 46th & 47th)
We had an 8pm reservation, were seated at 9:15, received our first nibbles at 10pm. No apologies, misleading wait updates, and no attempt to make the situation better. When we spoke with the manager, we were chastised and the blame was placed on the table seated before us. The evening ended with the manager sarcastically making fun of us, the bartender criticizing my drink order and being told we were not welcome back. Aren’t they thrilled they included 20% gratuity in the check? We paid the full bill and will never go back. Oh, and the food was overpriced.
Actually a meal in Japan, where service is usually excellent. I found a piece of plastic in my curry and mentioned it to the waiter. Later the owner came over and wanted to see the piece of plastic. I gave it to her. The compensation was free dessert, which she brought while I was still not halfway through my dinner, and told me to eat it before it melted! Taking items off the menu is very uncommon in Japan. Service and quality is excellent overall though. I miss Japan and the delicious food even after being back in NYC for 2 years.
this isn’t all that horrible, but at a now-defunct restaurant in brooklyn, i ordered a gruyere and ham omelette. they gave me an american cheese and ham omelette with bits of eggshell in it. my dining companion begged me not to send it back, because his food hadn’t come yet and he was convinced our snotty waitress would spit in his food. but i regret not saying something to this day.
I am not eligible to win, but I thought I’d share an experience. Having been a regular at Sushi Yasuda on and off over eight years, going once a week, it was a slap in the face when one week Yasuda-san gave our seats away to another pair and put us in front of his sous-chef. They not only did not acknowledge what they did but when we complained, they blamed us for not specifying that we wanted to sit in front of Yasuda-san. Since we make our reservations for the next week each time on our way out and watch them write in our name in for Yasuda-san seats, it was a ludicrous accusation. Besides the fact, what kind of service is it where you accuse your clients instead of taking responsibility? How about some accountability and hospitality? We have not returned since.
Everyone in Park Slope seems to like them, but my boyfriend and I had a terrible experience at Little D Eatery once. After patiently waiting for over an hour at the bar for our seats, we were not only seated later than the couple that came after us, we were also totally ignored for another 15 minutes before our menus were brought out. We already knew what we wanted so when we tried to get the waitress’s attention to order, it took another 10 minutes. By then it was already past 10PM and we had been at the restaurant for nearly two hours. We had had enough and left the restaurant for the nearest Mexican tacqueria.
My husband took me out for a birthday dinner at an upscale restaurant downtown. The guy right next to me (on a long banquette, so no separation) was wearing shorts, a ragged t-shirt and a golf hat, and he smelled. Halfway through the meal, his girlfriend came around and sat on his lap, and they started making out.
Went to a restaurant in Providence that was absolutely terrible from beginning to end. We were seated next to the machine where all the waiters and waitresses input items for the bill. We asked to be moved and were begrudgingly placed at another table. One of us has an allergy to hazelnuts and specifically requested that they be taken out of a dish. Of course it arrived with chopped hazelnuts inside the salad. We told our waitress, and so the manager came over to apologize. Her words: can you just eat around it? Nothing was gratis, nothing was offered beyond a verbal apology. To add insult to injury my lamb was room temperature upon arrival. Worst ever.
As a wine writer who is a woman, I am used to having the wine list given to any male at the table. But one evening, at a “posh” restaurant in a castle north of NYC, I and two female friends were celebrating a birthday. The sommelier, an older gentleman, came over (wearing a tastevin). I asked for the wine list, but he instead asked if we wanted red or white wine. I insisted on the list. After glancing through it, the prices were so inflated that I settled on one of the lower priced bottles of Shiraz. When told they were “out of that” I asked what he would suggest in the same price range. He suggested a Zinfandel, which he said was “just like the Shiraz”!!! At that point, I thanked him and ordered another bottle of my choosing.
Not so much a bad service story as just a bad experience story:
My father did not get along well with his parents, and only grudgingly agreed to meet them half-way between Houston (where we were staying with my aunt & uncle) and their small, rural town. I figured that at least I would get a good steak out of what was sure to be a train-wreck of a meal, this being Texas and all. I ordered, and noted the asterisk on the menu (* these steaks are served sizzlin’). I didn’t put much thought into that until the food arrived. I could hear the sizzlin’ from across the dining room. Turns out that “sizzlin’” means “served in half an inch of hot fat.” I have nothing against fat, but you couldn’t access the steak until it cooled off, lest you get burnt by spattering grease. Of course, by that time, the steak was sitting in half an inch of cold fat. Some of which ended up on my favorite tie. The meal went downhill from there.
Still, the service was friendly!
there are plenty but the first that comes to mind was at brown, new york. there was a huge cockroach running around on the wall right behind where all the diners were sitting. everyone started screaming and moving around. The waitress just stood there. Not only did she do NOTHING, the most horrifying was what came out of her month – “ these people need some pacifiers!”
One night after getting off a long dinner shift as a line cook I went to a late night restaurant to indulge in that ubiquitous trash delicacy, potato skins. I told my waiter, “I’m a vegetarian, please hold the bacon, blah blah blah”. The skins came out with bacon on them, which happens to vegetarians a lot. No problem, mistakes happen, I sent them back. 2 minutes later the skins came back out, sans bacon. Now I know it takes longer than 2 minutes to fry up some skins, and the bacon grease pooled at the bottom of the skins confirmed that they’d just picked the bacon off, something I could have done myself. (side note: many of you undoubtedly eat bacon, so imagine something repulsive and inedible instead, say….used motor oil.) I asked that they be prepared again, pointing out the grease issue. 2 minutes went by and some skins that looked suspiciously [read: exactly] like the ones I sent back came to my table, albeit reorganized on my plate. I sighed deeply, told the waiter I wasn’t fooled, and asked “Can they be prepared again, even if I have to pay for both orders?” The poor guy took the skins back, and two minutes later came back with what were obviously the same skins, disguised by a sprinkling of shredded cheese cleverly melted in the microwave. I walked out without paying.
I’ve been a cook in a lot of restaurants, and while no one wants to think about it, some shady stuff can go down in some of America’s sleazier kitchens. But I’ve never worked somewhere that put so little effort into covering it up.
Many years ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant on the site Nobu now occupies. It had a Casablanca vibe with large paddle fans. My friend commented that the place seemed very dirt. There was so much dust, I was sure it was contrived to support a theme. We ordered appetizers. When mine arrived, shrimp in garlic, I started pushing around these odd leaves swimming in a film of oil with my fork. I turned to my friend, an excellent cook, and asked, “What spice is this?”. She turned white, put her hand over her mouth and made a dash for the ladies room. The hostess/owner rushed to the table and then followed my friend to the bathroom, tossing out over her shoulder, “All restaurants have roaches.”. (Possibly, but do they serve them to patrons???) When my friend returned, we left to the shouts of the hostess demanding payment of the check. We sped up the West Side highway in my car and stopped at a famous steakhouse. Where we ran up an enormous bill, drowning the previous experience in bottles of champagne before we could order another meal! That was the first time this Jersey gal had ever seen a roach. Should I be thankful it was cooked?
Although the food at Bebo in Crystal City, VA was pretty good, the service was absolutely awful! The waiter brought my husband’s meal first and my meal 20 minutes later. And when I asked what was taking so long, he replied, “Be patient.” We also noticed that other customers were experiencing similar customer service issues. No matter how good the food was, I’ll never go back.
My sister and I walked into a restaurant in Boston and waited patiently for the hostess. She passed us several times without acknowledging us — however she did speak to two couples behind us who were Caucasian and seated them. Just to double-check, we waited another few minutes and it happened again — twice in immediate succession. As we left, I finally caught her eye and we glared at each other with clear understanding of the situation.