Vin..........a surreal experience
- Emalekween Jun 5, 2006 04:40 PM
Went to Vin Saturday night, although it hadn't been open long, thought we might have a couple of interesting glasses of wine and something different to eat. WRONG! Our evening began by us staring at one of twelve flatscreen TV sets all bearing the restaurant and chef's name. EGO? After being handed the wine list, we were greatly disappointed by the mediocre and commercial choices. We noticed Dynamite Cabernet listed on the 'per glass' menu at $15 which typically lists for $22 per bottle in your neighborhood wine store. We arrived early and ordered our meal selections. While waiting for our dinners, we had the audacity to ask for some crackers or bread and were given four crackers, one for each of us. Two meals showed up about forty minutes later, we're still waiting for the other two! After waiting nearly an hour for our dinners, we were told by our server the second two dinners couldn't be located in the kitchen. When the maitre d' was asked to expedite the orders, he meekly replied they were 'in the works' but he couldn't give us any time frame as when we should expect them. He never went anywhere near the kitchen to check, but kept looking at his computer screen. We came to the conclusion that there's an arrogant and tyrant of a chef in the kitchen who is not willing to discuss these matters with his lowly staff.
I would like to think these were 'opening jitters', however, having a complete disrespect for your customers happiness is not something that can be remedied in a few weeks or months of business.
Vin (pronounced Vine) is just off Towson Circle. Chef and part-owner is Christopher Paternotte, graduate of French Culinary Institute and formerly executive chef at Kali's Court. Vin is also owned by the Cordish Company. The General Manager also worked at Kali's Court/Mezze.
Emalekween, sorry to hear about your poor experience. Funny, I was just hearing about Vin for the first time last night; the person to whom I was talking also complained about the wine mark-up (like 250% minimum).
Yeah, it's pretty obscene. I think I saw a $15-a-bottle-retail Crios Torrontes going for $13 a glass? (Can't remember, but it was enough to make me choke on my water.) But I have to say, service was great when we went--but we sat at the bar and were only ordering apps, so maybe that helped. Nice cheese plate, and the bite-sized desserts is a nice concept (though doesn't work with creme brulee--too much brulee-to-creme ratio.) The TV screens bugged me, too, but maybe I just wasn't cool enough for the room. I'd say the place has potential but it's waaaaaaay to corporate-slick for its own good right now.
I wholeheartedly agree. A recent evening at Vin (over a month since they opened) was a calamity. The menu was uninspired. The service was rude. The entrees arrived an hour and forty-five minutes after we ordered... and only 3 of 4, apparently the Cobb salad takes a solid 2 hours to prepare. Furthermore, one member of our party received the wrong entree. Not once were we offered a simple apology for the delay nor was anything taken off the bill. We never even received an extra basket of bread that we requested during the obscene wait. And finally the kicker... we were told that since we did not have reservations we were "lucky" to be given a table and must eat quickly so our table could be turned over. Having been seated at 8, we were the very last table to receive our entrees and we bitterly left close to 11. A true nightmare of an experience, and these were only some of the lowlights. I could go on forever but my feelings could be summed up best with the following plea: DO NOT GO TO VIN.
We just had dinner at VIN this evening and will surely NOT be returning. As mentioned in an earlier post, seating that has all patrons facing plasma screens displaying the chefs name is a bit creepy. Food took forever to arrive, a couple sticks of crackers were all that was offered (Is there no bread?). The cheese platter appetizer was less cheese than one might expect, the main courses were tapas sized - with regular entree prices. After waiting 45 minutes for our desserts to arrive, we threw in the towel and asked for our check. Oh - did we mention the techno music thump thumping while you're trying to hold a conversation?
It sounds like this place is such a disaster, you almost have to go to see it for yourself. Usually someone will chime in with something positive, but it sounds pretty unanimous.
just lost a longish post, so here are the highlights.
went there about a week ago. had two glasses of wine on the patio; then went inside for dinner. grilled calamari; oysters on the half-shell; hanger steak; bronzini; all four desserts, four glasses of wine. Right around $120 total.
--outdoor patio is very nice. seems pretty comfty.
--All the food was well-prepared. Grilled calamari wasn't as good as I remember it from Kali's, but was still excellent. I like the dessert idea and think that $2.00 is a steal for some of them. I was kind of amazed how few entrees there are. (Here's the menu: http://www.vinbaltimore.com/). There are really only two meat entrees (no chicken; no pork; etc.). And if you take out the lobster thermador and the cobb salad, there's only five real entrees. The flatbreads did sound intruiging though.
--As for the wine mark-up, I've heard this a bit too. I don't have any details to back this up, but it seemed that bottle price was better than the per glass price, although I will give them that they seem to give healthy pours. Also, was disappointed in the wine list; I thought it would be more adventurous. Then again, it is Towson.
--Service had an attitude that you might expect from a staff that wears all black. E.g., waitress didn't crack a smile all evening. They made us wait for a table even though half the restaurant was empty. Stuff like that. But nothing was unprofessional or terribly jarring.
--Not a big fan of the flat screen TVs either.
--And of course, it seems that everyone has at least one bad moment there, so here's mine. Understand that Vin is a kind of narrow restaurant, so the bar runs the entire length of the dining area and is pretty close to the tables. So we're finishing up dinner and not yet into dessert when a obviously drunk woman (and friends) stumble into the bar area. She starts entertaining herself in a very loud voice. Then she starts singing. And she's telling stories that includes pretty heavy profanity. It nearly ruined the entire evening. But more importantly, I wonder how common this incident is.
--Anyways, to sum up, I might go back, but I'd certainly avoid a Friday and Saturday night for now. I can't imagine how this place would be if it were busy.
[WARNING: LONG POST BELOW!]
I'm late to this thread, but we (my husband and I) just ate at Vin for the first time...And what will no doubt be our last time. I find myself echoing many of the previous comments. I was cognizant of the negative reviews here but really wanted to give the place a shot.
Bear in mind that this was a Tuesday night, so while the place was busy, there *were* some empty tables and it wasn't packed to the gills like one might expect later in the week. Anyway...
Things started rather ominously with the tomato soup. It was, basically, warm tomato puree - nothing in the way of nuance to make it interesting. (And not as smooth/velvety in texture as one might hope/expect.) We shared the foie gras appetizer, in which there was little in the way of foie gras, with the dish overwhelmed by the slab of seared tuna on which the foie gras was served. If I'd wanted seared tuna, I would have ordered *that* appetizer. The foie gras itself was good, however (at least IMO - my husband was underwhelmed). For our entrees, I had the hanger steak and my husband the gnocchi. I loved the hanger steak - I don't know how representative their preparation was (it seemed to have involved a fair amount of butter), but this was the first time I'd ever had that particular cut of meat and I thought it was great. The gnocchi, regrettably, was overcooked and rather mushy (as was the spinach-and-garlic dish ordered as a side).
We didn't bother with dessert. We had already been in the place two hours and fatigue had set in.
In all...We could have had a far more satisfying meal (hanger steak excepted) by going downstairs to Trader Joe's.
We encountered many of the same issues mentioned in earlier posts, such as:
...an overpriced and limited wine list (it *is* called Vin, right?) - obvious to us, and we are in no way wine experts
...interminable wait for food (at least 30 minutes transpired between appetizer and entrees, with no explanation or apology and no server to be found)
...stinginess with that whole cracker business (why don't they serve bread - especially as long waits between courses appears to be the norm?)
Obviously, Towson needs the kind of place that Vin aspires to be, given its obvious popularity. Unfortunately, it appears to be just a missed opportunity. For comparison's sake, the local restaurant that I find most similar in terms of atmosphere and menu is Taste in Belvedere Square; we found Taste to be superior in just about every way.
So anyone know of a good place to get hanger steak in the B'more area? :)