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La Palette - on the downward slope ?

b
Bigtigger Jul 30, 2006 04:11 AM

Whatever has happened to this old favorite of mine ? Used to love the steak frites, served with tarragon butter - they changed that. The foie gras used to be served in generous portions, now it is tiny at $18 or so. But the worst feature is the decline in service - always before it was unconventional, but so friendly and anxious to please as to make up for any shortcomings. The other night our waiter was positively rude - when we reminded him we had asked for more ice water perhaps 5-6 minutes after our original request (we were on our second bottle of wine), he kept moving, didn't make eye contact, dismissively waved at us and said in an annoyed, condescending tone "Oh it's on its way." Sorry, La P - your prices are no longer of a cheqap and cheerful quaint bistro; and you have lots of competition. Time to smarten up. Have any other readers seen the deterioration in service and to an extent in food of late ?

  1. g
    gtw Jul 30, 2006 07:34 PM

    Shamez was an original co-owner with Michael and took over ownership when Michael left. In my visits he has typically been very visible in the front of the house and I would be very surprised if it were he that was rude and snide - I have always found him to be very professional.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gtw
      k
      Kasia Jul 30, 2006 09:29 PM

      I have been to La Palette since the change in ownership several times. Luckily every time I go I get served by Shamez, who has been nothing but charming and very accomodating. I've not found any discernable difference in the quality of the food (I may be wrong, but I thought the souz chef has taken over as head chef, which would explain the continuity in the kitchen and on the menu). It still remains one of my favourite spots in Toronto, not least because of the warm and inviting atmosphere. The service can sometimes be slow, depending on how busy it is.

    2. b
      Bigtigger Jul 30, 2006 05:47 PM

      Interesting comments, thank you. I agree, we all have off nights but I don't think off nights encompass snideness-to-rudeness - and Pinstripe's allusion to massive portions of foe gras is most certainly no longer true.

      I am not sure whether the person who acted as our waiter, assisted by a genial young woman was perhaps the new owner, Shamez ? At any rate the person who served us in the way I described was a tall fairly young-looking man of East Indian extraction - which I mention only for purposes of identification.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bigtigger
        t
        torontogirly Jan 8, 2007 08:44 PM

        I had the same dismal customer service experience. Completely unwarranted. This place is well past its prime. Based on all your comments, I expect it was Shamez who treated us so poorly. I had every intention of sending the owner a complaint but since it appears he's the one insulting the customers, I can't imagine that would do a lot of good. Hence the posting here to help other foodies avoid a similar disappointment. The food was disappointing so it seems all that is left of the former establishment is the crammed, boho vibe. Go to Batifole for cute, authentic French Bistro.

      2. f
        faijay Jul 30, 2006 02:34 PM

        Sorry to hear that. I will try it one more time to see for myself and then... To bad it was a lunch favourite for me and my friend on our girls Saturday expeditions.

        1. p
          peppermint pate Jul 30, 2006 12:31 PM

          That's a good point but for me, I think it depends on how bad the experience and how invested I feel in making an effort. For me, when the service/food is particularly good, I always make a point of saying that out loud. If I were to ever get notably bad or rude service, I would also probably bring it to a manager's attention (I never thought to post comments on a restaurant's website - do most provide that opportunity?). In this case, it was underwhelming and odd - certainly a contrast from all the raves I read about on this board. But having been there only once before - a few years ago - it wasn't so dramatic that I felt the need to make the extra effort or even to post a review about my dinner that night, though it did feel appropriate to respond to this post.

          4 Replies
          1. re: peppermint pate
            pinstripeprincess Jul 30, 2006 03:26 PM

            i don't believe any restaurant i know of allows you to post directly to their website, but often offer contact information so that you can leave a semi-anonymous note. that might have been what zengarden was referring to.

            i've been to la palette a handful of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. knowing that the size of the foie gras serving was massive for $18, it was the best deal in town. but i wouldn't be surprised if the changeover has produced some ill effects (i've never seen Shamez spend as much time in the kitchen as on the floor).

            i completely understand peppermint pates position, unless i'm a "regular" at a restaurant i dont' feel that i have the right to complain because i could have been there on an off night with an off server. but if this happens often and i've spent a significant amount of money at the place... then i feel i have proper point of comparison.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess
              tuqueboy Jul 31, 2006 02:04 AM

              Sorry, but you're not really saying someone needs to be a regular to complain if service is crappy, are you? if someone is paying money anywhere, no matter how many times they've been, they should complain.

              1. re: tuqueboy
                pinstripeprincess Jul 31, 2006 03:08 AM

                no, i'm saying I don't feel comfortable for that reason. which is precisely why i've only complained once.

                to each their own. if there's a reason to complain, then by all means. i just might hesitate.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  d
                  della Aug 10, 2006 04:32 AM

                  I think it's important always to bring bad service to the establishment's attention. Don't be shy and don't be rude. We had unusually bad service here and the food was not great shakes to begin with.

          2. z
            Zengarden Jul 30, 2006 12:07 PM

            In situations where one doesn't feel that the restaurant provided good service, what about writing to them via the establishment's web site? I know that this could be misused by some people but other than just posting on Chowhound, I wonder if people should communicate directly with the restaurant?

            Any thoughts?

            1. p
              peppermint pate Jul 30, 2006 11:52 AM

              I had a note about this in the recent thread on inexpensive french restaurants. We were there a few weeks ago. Service was downright odd - our waiter seemed wasted, actually. We were sitting on the front patio (the pretty tiny front room being totally full) and we felt quite forgotten about. Beyond that, the food was underseasoned, generally underwhelming and expensive for what we got. Others around us seemed to be having the same experience, a couple sent their dishes back to the kitchen, etc.

              1. aser Jul 30, 2006 06:18 AM

                according to Now's 3/23/06 edition.

                Up the street, La Palette (256 Augusta, at College, 416-929-4900) chef and co-owner Michael Harrington has been bought out by partner Shamez Amlani after nearly 15 years working together, first at Le Select on Queen, then at their very popular bistro. The split's amicable; Harrington and fiancée are off to Belize to open a B&B, the poor things.

                I haven't been recently to judge for myself. Service could just be an off night as most restaurants will have a bad waiter or two through their lifespan. The food on the other hand, could have taken a dip w/ Harrington's departure.

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