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Jan 24, 2002 12:52 PM

One Market - Addendum

  • f

Since Jaweino did such a great job lower down on this board with a review of Dine About Town at One Market, I thought I'd just cover the dishes that we tried that he didn't...

The Duck Breast entree was really divine. The duck itself was flavorful and perfectly cooked to pinkness (yes, yes, I KNOW you're supposed to eat poultry well-done. Just can't do it). The skin was deliciously crisped with some sort of "allspice rub" - it tasted delicately of cinnamon, nutmeg... not at all overwhelming, but quite nice. The "jus" the duck was sitting on, however, was somewhat oversalted - the red onion and baby artichokes resting in it were almost inedible because they had absorbed so much of the salt. And the promised truffles were nowhere to be found. Instead, there were tiny fingerling potatoes and HAZELNUTS (!!) which really didn't mesh well with the dish at all. Regardless of the sauce's failure, the duck itself was worth the meal.

A note about the service: It sucked.

When I asked for my coat to be checked, the host suggested I use the open seat at the table instead, saying "it will be faster for you when you leave" - or do you mean, sir, that it will be faster for YOU??

Our waitress was no better. She was brusque, had an incredible attitude, and rushed us right into the menus. Kept coming around every few minutes - not discretely, mind you, but urging "are you ready? what do you want to eat?". And she insisted we order all three courses at once - I've never been asked to order my dessert up front, even in a Prix Fixe situation!

When two of us had finished our wine, it took her 10 minutes to notice and ask if we wanted another. My companions were having merlot, and when I told her I was ready to switch to a red and asked her for the wine list, she walked away and came back with 3 glasses of merlot, instead of offering me the list again. I quite abruptly sent it back and asked for the list again. (You may have noticed that she came back with 3 glasses, even though one of us still had a half-full glass in front of her. Another faux pas, especially when she reached over to take the first glass away!!)

The kicker? When she collected our signed tabs, she had the audacity to count up her tip in front of us.

Now, we tipped a standard 15%, but I tell you, in this situation, I was horribly enticed to offer no tip at all. Instead, I have called the management of the restaurant this morning to share my experience.

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  1. Ouch -- sorry to hear about your bad experience. I'm considering One Market, and I hope I'll never get the same nightmare server.

    A little digression: I've noticed that Le Charm states on their menu that your need to order the dessert at the beginning if you're getting the prixe fixe. (Is that still the case?) I just discovered that it was also somewhat common in France. It sometimes can be attributed to cultural practices, although in your case I think that the server was just being lazy.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Limster

      I think you're right... particularly in the case of a dessert menu when a souffle is available, I think the kitchen liked to have advance notice of that.

      I've eaten at 1 Market for business lunches and dinners on several occassions, and never had such brusque service. I'll call it a fluke.

      1. re: Fatemeh

        Actually, I think you missed my point.

        Let's prentend for a moment that you are the manager of a sales team that sells an interactive product to cutomers on a one-to-one basis.

        Let's say I deal with one of your team memebers on a sale. And, let's say it's not a great experience, but I pay and go about my business.

        The next day I hop onto a web site and mention how much your sales person "sucked."

        Wouldn't you be a little pissed that you did not have the chance to react to my compaints before I took them public?

        Think about it.

        If you are not comfortable talking to a manager, send a letter instead.

        I work in the business and rarely post here, but I usually get a good laugh out of some of the things that get posted here. I'm also not a big fan of One Market for personal reasons, but I think you cut their management a bit short.


        1. re: Insider

          I didn't miss your point. And of course you don't know me, but I called One Market yesterday morning. I didn't feel it appropriate to speak to a manager at that moment since I was with two colleagues.

          Further, the point of this board is to share experiences. No matter how much Mr. Bouchard apologizes, the fact remains that "service sucked". And as an active member of this community, it's my (chosen) duty to share that here. I'm glad Mr. Bouchard made his voice audible here, but again, it doesn't change the course of the evening.

          Again, I criticized one aspect of the experience, while lauding another.

          That's why we come here - to get informed, respected opinions from people who have no ulterior motives - most of us are NOT "insiders" - and as a matter of fact, we ask that you who are insiders expose your affiliations - which you have not done.

          Please respect the integrity of this board. It's not for the restauranteurs' benefit - it for the people who use it.

          1. re: Insider

            I appreciate your point of view from the inside and I understand that it is not trivial to run a business. Nothing is always perfect. A waitress can have a bad day. Knowing things like this can help us be better customers.

            But at the same time, I don't think that customers are obliged to volunteer feedback on how to improve a business. We aren't consultants.

            Which is why it is a common practice for the server or the manager would check in during the meal to see if everything is alright, so that they can nip any unpleasantness in the bud.

            Your point about posting a single (and maybe isolated) unpleasant experience is well taken, but chowhound works because many people share their experience to give us an average picture (as opposed to 3 meals per review). And it is also an open forum for the restaurant to defend itself.

            I thought it was very admirable of Mr Bouchard to speak up and would certainly consider going to eat at One Market soon.

          2. re: Fatemeh

            Hold everything !!!!!!! I have not even finished reading all the replies to this "pre order dessert issue" But Let me tell you !!!! If a GUEST ! came into One Market and was seated say.. in my section, and If I percieved even an incling of desire from that guest to order dessert at the end of their "prefix" meal (when dessert is normaly ordered).. Hey!! Get a clue! As a server this becomes an opportunity for me to demenstrate a sincere willingness to go out of my way for the guest !!! There are very few times that by saying
            "Yes" negativley effects so many other diners that you just can not do it. Why would any server not want to help the "guest win" if they could !!

          3. re: Limster

            There really is no excuse for the service you received.

            Usually, but not always, it is not the server's fault, management has probably not spent enough time with her, training her for the job. You need to mention your issues -- with the food as well -- with a manager before you leave. Make sure it is a manager, not a host or hostess. Otherwise, nothing changes.

            As for pre-ordering dessert, what's the BFD? It helps the kitchen manage your table and speeds up service (the server does not have to return to the table with the dessert card and return a second time to take the dessert order along with coffee and drink orders. This little amount of time is actually at lot of time during lunch.) Plus, the kitchen has the whole ticket in front of them and knows what's coming.

            If you are not in a hurry, or want to order dessert later, just ask to do so.

            Again, I can't stress enough the need to raise issues with management. At least at our place, we take all comments into consideration. We get a lot of bs as well (I especially love the "food illness" scam letters), so a few constructive comments on things that we don't always see help us get our jobs done. This is a SERVICE business.


            1. re: Insider

              First, and just FYI, this was DINNER, not lunch.

              The "BFD", as you so eloquently put it, would not have been such if she hadn't seemed to have wanted to rush us out of her section as quickly as possible.

              Had she *suggested* that we order our dessert early, or *asked* if we wanted to order then... that would have been a totally different story. I can appreciate efficiency as much as the next busy gal. But her tone, abruptness and overall manner made even that small detail a point of contention.

              Does that make sense?

              1. re: Fatemeh
                Nathan Landau

                Well, institutional learning can occur. We went to One Market last night and had the Dine About Town menu. We went due to the (mostly) positive reviews on this list and its easy BART access, so we could avoid a Friday night drive into the city. When we ordered our server asked us if we wanted her to bring back the desert choices when we were ready for desert--we said yes. I can't customarily go to restaurants in this price range, but I'd describe the service we got as highly professional, but certainly not warm or friendly. The only time we felt rushed was when they brought the check a little too quickly during coffee. We wound up being there about 90 minutes, which seemed about right. We were perfectly happy to keep our coats at our table--it only got a little awkward when they seated a (DAT)party at the table next to us.

                Foodwise, we thought the ahi tuna was absolutely terrific, the duck breast good but not great. We were a bit surprised that wine, coffee, and sparkling water added almost 50% to the DAT bill but so be it. I was happy with the whole experience, my wife just wished she'd ordered the crab bisque off the a la carte menu.

            2. re: Limster

              I had a great experience at One Market. Dinner was delicious, service was fine ( a little rushed- but hey, they're having a 50% off sale )and yes, we ordered all three courses at the same time. To the lady who complained about that: Get over it, and did you stop to think that the waiters in the city are getting roughly half their income with this promotion?City restaurants (at which I dine very frequently) are going out of their way to provide us with an opportunity to sample the best of the best at a steep discount. I've been to several, am having a blast, and frankly, found One Market's menu the best I've seen of the Dine About Town's and again, I had no service problems at all.

              1. re: Fred

                Please, folks, this board is about sharing stories, ideas and thoughts. I'm glad, Fred, that you had a wonderful experience. My server tarnished mine. It wasn't an attack on the restaurant, and I don't think I deserve the nastiness. Please read down the board, and you'll find that I'm not a primadonna who always has to have first rate service. However, to address your comments:

                Perhaps you haven't stopped to consider that waiters are NOT making 1/2 their income. In fact, this promotion has caused a substantial increase in the patronage of participating restaurants - thereby increasing the incomes of service staff who might otherwise not even have jobs.

                Listen, I'm not unreasonable. I know I'm getting a deal - i don't complain about not being able to get a reservation at a prime hour - I know they hold those tables for full-paying customers. I don't complain about not being given full run of the menu or not getting the best table in the house.

                But I do have a problem with being treated differently by the waitstaff because I'm taking advantage of a special which is aggressively promoted, and is probably supplementing their income quite well.

                Now, if you said to me that most people taking advantage of this offer are misers, or ungracious patrons who stiff the waiters... well, maybe i'd get it. and like i stated in another post, had she not been so incredibly rude to begin with, i would never have taken note of - or called to attention - the whole ordering issue.

                And, now that Limster very politely mentioned that in many cases, Prix Fixe menus request that you order all at once, I realize that I perhaps shouldn't have taken issue with it at all.

                Regardless, I stand by my original assertion that we experienced extremely poor service for the standards of a restaurant like One Market. The food shined, the wines were lovely... but the waitress did neither.

              2. re: Limster

                Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I believe that most of the time--with the exception of a few items like soufflees--at least at a la carte establishments, it's because the restaurant fears the customer may be too full to order dessert afterwards and wants the commitment to what's usually a high-priced item.

                We were required to order dessert when we placed the rest of our order at Elis. Daniel. But that too was prix fixe. I hate it. Who knows what she/he'll feel like at the end of the meal. Another example of putting the house's convenience ahead of the customer's.

              3. l
                Larry Bouchard

                Dear Fatemah:
                I was truly disappointed to hear of your service experience at One Market. Even though "Dine About Town" has been such a huge success, it's been a welcome challenge having so many diners at once in our restaurant. Our goal all along with "D.A.T." has been to offer to returning and first-time guests alike, a chance to sample what we believe to be some of the city's very best cuisine prepared by one of Michael Bauer's "Five Best New Chef's, 2001", OMR's Adrian Hoffman. In fact, it was extremely important to us that we not limit our "D.A.T." menu to a single choice within each course. As well, each item comes directly from our regular menu (no less expensive meats, seafood or other substitutions are being used whatsoever). But I agree that delicious food is only half of the experience; the service, of course, makes up the other. I take pride in our service staff, as they've received excellent recent reviews in the Chronicle and the tougher-than-ever SF Magazine. I can assure you that based upon your experience and comments, we will strongly re-emphasize all of the above with our servers, server assistants, bar and front-door staff. In closing, I'd like you to know that it was me who took you to your table and it was indeed my suggestion that coats be left on the extra chair for your convenience. Please be assured that suggestion was made in complete earnestness.
                Larry Bouchard
                General Manager/ Partner
                One Market Restaurant

                13 Replies
                1. re: Larry Bouchard

                  Then I guess you know the waitress Fatemah had.

                  But I would also have to agree with the GM on this one. If there's an empty chair, I would prefer to hang my coat there than wait for it later at the front.

                  1. re: Lamar Odom

                    I can appreciate that... Except for the fact that there were THREE women with THREE large winter coats. And THREE purses.

                    By the time we got up to leave, my coat had slipped halfway onto the floor (presumably from being brushed against).

                    1. re: Fatemeh

                      The point to me seems to be that the customer is the one whose preference should be honored--everyone is not going to want the same accommodation.

                      The other point seems to me to be that the purpose of the promotion should be to try to woo new fans with the best possible food and service--no cutting corners in either.

                      Also, I notice the manager neglected to respond to the comment about oversaltiness. I attribute that SFBA epidemic partly to Bauer's salt obsession. He seems unable to comprehend that salt tolerance is an individual matter and can be altered fairly easily through using more or less. There appears to be some theory that many local food types take as gospel that what seems to many of us an exorbitant amount of salt is essential to making dishes work, but that's absurd.
                      I find myself downing quarts of water after eating at most Cal/American Cuisine restaurants, even when I didn't notice the saltiness at the time. To me that's a sign of truly bad cooking, and I generally cross such places off my list of returns and recommendations.

                      1. re: Fine
                        Thurston Deckhead

                        I alway found that overly seasoned food is the result of a chef or line cook who smokes. Smoking destroys one's sense of taste, and is often compensated for by over seasoning a dish.

                        This problem is much harder to correct than simply showing a host/hostess how to check coats. Or, teaching a server proper wine serving and tableside service skills.

                        Frankly, I wish they would hang a sign outside each restaurant that listed that sites latest health inspection report and also note if the chef and/or line cooks are allowed to smoke during service.

                        1. re: Thurston Deckhead

                          It was against the law to smoke in a kitchen in California long before the current restaurant smoking laws were instituted, though, of course, that doesn't apply to back alleys.

                          1. re: Fine
                            Thurston Deckhead

                            Yes, isn't it great to know that your $30 entree was probably not prepared directly by the "rising chef," but the line cook who was smoking in the back alley a few minutes before...yuck.

                            1. re: Thurston Deckhead

                              For all of you posting about smoking amongst line cooks (mind you I am a fellow non-smoker) you have a VERY twisted sense of reality. Have ANY of you been in a top San Francisco restaurant kitchen???? Or been around a top chef while he is orchestrating the chaotic nightmare of dish preparation and coordination??? Well if not, and from my perspective it seems that you have not, let me educate you.

                              First of all kitchen employees, especially those working in open kitchens such as One Markets, are constantly on display. They work cleanly and VERY VERY hard. They have no time for a break of any kind let alone a cigarette break, they are not hanging out in a "back alley smoking" as stated in an earlier thread.

                              All they are doing is slaving away in physically demanding conditions to create YOU the dining public a masterpiece. They do this willingly and proudly. They WANT you to enjoy the fruits of the literal hours of hard work needed to create your dish.

                              Also as a comment related to this thread it is a very unrealistic expectation to assume the executive chef at ANY top restaurant has had a direct hand in every dish coming off a line. After creating the dishes for the presented menu their responsibility becomes one akin to that of symphony conductor, they hire very skilled talent (employees who are tommorrows future top chefs) who re-create dishes to their exact specifications under their constant direction.

                              I myself am a front-of-house restaurant employee who highly values restaurant patrons constructive critiques and those of professional restaurant evaluators ( I myself have personally waited on many local food critics including Michael Bauer several times). I do not however appreciate or value the unfounded attacks and conclusion jumping of anyone who does not have first hand knowledge or experience in the area they are spewing over.

                              1. re: smakdab

                                Your first mistake is to assume that people that post on this board do not know anything about the workings of a resturant. Second just as you, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I had a terrible experience at Boulevard but others had a great experience. Does that make me wrong. Nope. Does that make them wrong. Nope.

                                I agree with your comments about the hard work and dedication that goes into the front and back of the house. I know this first hand. By the way that does not make me better or above anyone who posts on this board? No. And yes I have been in kitchens in top resturants. I do not personally know of cooks that take smoking breaks, there is simply no time but that does not mean to say I have not seen it. Twice while going to resturants in San Francisco I have seen cooks taking a smoking break, both times it was slow nights but it was in the front of the resturant as well. It did not turn me away from the resturant but was something that should have been done in the alley out of view of customers.

                                1. re: Gatun

                                  Good points, all.

                                  The fact remains, though, that smokers have a decreased sense of smell, which in turn affects their sense of taste.

                                  So, it's a very logical conclusion that some oversalted dishes may well have been prepared by cooks who are smokers - whether or not they smoke on the job is fairly irrelevant.

                                  Pretty interesting hypothesis, if you ask me. I'd love to test it someday!

                                  1. re: Fatemeh

                                    As an aside to the salt/taste/smoking issue-- It should be noted that everyones sense of taste is different. Yours, mine and the guest who visits a restaurant with you. There are different taste receptors inside our mouths that allow us to perceive tastes differently. Research is available on this subject (although I am not sure where to directly find it at).

                                    What this means is that whether a line cook smokes or not he/she is preparing a dish for a group of customers who a) may or may not smoke and b) have different levels of taste receptors in their mouths.

                                    As a person who dines out , You know what you like, so just simply ask for it. If you have a continual problem with salt issues at restaurants then the reason (no offense intended here) might be related to your physiology rather than to what you perceive as a smoking line cooks damaged sense of taste. In fact more than one person, usually a sous chef or the executive chef himself, often tastes all the sauces in every line cooks station in the resataurant.

                                    If you know that you are overly sensitive to salt, ask your server to recommend less salty dishes as well as to ask the chef to make your meal with little or no salt. Waiters and Chefs are not mind readers, they do however want to serve you food you like.

                                    So to avoid dining problems related to your own perceptions of over-salted dishes. Communicate your wishes and needs openly, Ask for advice and alternatives from service staff, and finally if things still don't come together to your exacting specifications, let the service staff know immediately (not later in a list such as this) that the dish served is not to your liking so that the situation can be fixed to your satisfaction.

                                    Knowing what you want and like is Great!! But not letting others know doesn't allow a restaurant to give you a great food experience.

                                    1. re: smakdab
                                      Thurston Deackhead

                                      Smoking not only adversly effects one sense of taste, it's also unsanitary.
                                      Since you seem to be so defesive about someone like myself "who knows nothing," perhaps you should take the day long NSF course in food prep & sanitation. Gosh, I did, but I guess that still makes me clueless.
                                      As a FOH person, one would think you would have a better attitude toward maintaining a sanitary work area, and not just shoving your head in the sand. How many times did you wash your hands the last time you worked?
                                      Your chef and line staff are not allowed by law to smoke inside, but nothing keeps them from sneaking out between turns to take a drag in the garbage alley. Ever see them washing up on the way back in?
                                      More time than not, an overly salted dish is put out by someone with a bad sense of taste, period. Rising star, smoker, pot head, or untalented hack, it really does not matter. You can cook, or you can't.
                                      "Yes, I'd like the menu that only features the properly seasoned dishes, thanks."

                                      1. re: Thurston Deackhead

                                        Wow, I can't see what merited this huffy response. The poster you're responding to never said you "know nothing". And even if he had, I'm not sure why the name "Thurston Deackhead" should inspire especially awed deference. For the most part, we don't KNOW each others' knowledge level here. We're all mostly chatting with friendly strangers (and some who are, alas, less friendly). So, under the circumstances, the umbrage point should be set to "warm" rather than "broil".

                                        There are any number of places on the Internet to gleefully vent rage. Chowhound's a fun site people visit in their leisure time for positive vibes.


                                        1. re: Jim Leff
                                          Nathan Landau

                                          I should probably let this horse die, but ... I just wanted to point out that it is completely irrelevant to us as diners why food is over-salted (if we think it is). There could be any number of reasons for it. The point is, as folks have said before, that if food seems oversalted, say something about it and/or go to other restaurants.

                2. I'm sorry to hear that you had such poor service. Our waiter did not hurry us in the least. If anything, he was a little slow in checking with us, but as I said, we were in no hurry and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. I don't remember if we ordred all three courses at once, but I think we didn't order dessert until we had finished the main course. I guess you just got a bad waitress.