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Chez Panisse--bad experiences?

  • t

I was wondering if anyone else has had a really bad experience here. We went last night, and, from the moment we said that we weren't going to order wine, each server was ruder and more dismissive than the last--I was so surprised! Are we the only ones?

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  1. Just going on record in the "No, I have never had a bad meal or service at Chez Panisse" column.

    I once had a server who was very superior and just a little snotty in pointing out that she was a vegetarian when I asked her to tell me about a beef dish, so I asked for a server who could accommodate me and everything was fine.
    I have never not ordered wine, but I have put a dollar limit on wine up front. It has never been a problem.

    1. Downstairs or upstairs?

      We've only been downstairs, but it is one of our favorite special occasion places. Neither one of us drinks so we've never ordered wine. However, we've always found the service has always been gracious and smooth.

      1. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your visit. We have eaten downstairs once a year for the past 10 years, and I've never had an experience like yours. We usually just order a Kir Royale at the beginning, and sometimes we've brought our own wine or champagne. The only wine we've ordered from their wine list was a half-bottle once, and we haven't ever been treated badly. In fact, the reason we keep going back is because the service has been so gracious.

        (I always used to say "Why go to Zuni with snotty service when you can go to Chez Panisse and be treated nicely?" I stopped going to Zuni years ago because of the holier than thou attitude. May be different now, but I've never bothered to try...)

        3 Replies
        1. re: Lives to Eat

          i definitly have to second that on the Zuni attitude - i usually go with a friend, and don't drink - so we pretty much get ignored and resented by our waiter the whole night. Never again!

          1. re: beatrice

            Most of the time, my friends and I never order alchohol at Zuni and we have NEVER felt slighted in the least. I've never had anything but good service there.

            1. re: Walker

              I LOVE Zuni and the only time I ever encountered any snotty attitude was when I actually applied for a job there eons ago.....

        2. No, I also really enjoy Chez Panisse and, although I'm a Berkeley student, save my money and go there every other month or so. The staff is always respectful and warm.

          In fact, the last time I was there with a girlfriend, we asked the waiter, "Which is better, the ginger cake or the rhubarb cobbler?" He recommended the rhubarb cobbler but brought us a big slice of the ginger cake, too, so we could compare. That's what I call kind service.

          1. No, I have never been treated badly there. The thing to do if you feel you have been so treated is to write them a letter. Specify the night and time you went, where you sat, and what transpired. Do not simply say "the waiter was rude" as that is vague. Specify what happened to the best of your recollection, giving specific examples of what you perceive as rudeness. Mail them the letter. They are professionals, and will respond in an appropriate manner, with either an apology, and maybe a gift certificate if you make a good case.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sensi63

              Agree completely.