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Harvest Vine

I'm delurking just to share a disappointing recent experience at the Harvest Vine. I've always loved the place, have eaten some of the best meals I've had in Seattle there, service has been a little meh, but who cares, right? Then we brought an out of town relative there for her 50th birthday, and I swear, it was like they were trying to get us to leave. We made a reservation for 7:30, arrived promptly, were told they were "getting our table ready" and someone would be right with us to take our wine order while we waited. 15 minutes later no one had approached us to apologize for the delay or get us some wine ... the hostess was avoiding eye contact while literally brushing by us in the tiny waiting area. Meanwhile, we watched every single person who entered the restaurant after us being seated, including several 4-tops that would easily have seated our 3-person party. At 7:55, I reminded the hostess that no one had taken our wine order and that we had waited 25 minutes with no interaction from the staff. She actually ROLLED HER EYES AT US before making us wait several more minutes to take our wine order. Finally, at 8, right as we were about to leave, we were seated. No apologies, nothing. I mean, I've worked in restaurants, it doesn't take much to mollify me--it's not like we were being unreasonable.

I don't know, it was weird. Anyone else have an experience like that? It actually sort of ruined our evening for us--we have two small children, don't get out that often and certainly not to a restaurant like the Harvest Vine. I sent an email afterwards, but didn't even get the courtesy of a reply. Sort of makes me not want to ever go there again. And tell other people not to, either.

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  1. M.P., I consider Harvest Vine one of the top three restaurants in Seattle. I've always had impeccable service and food. I suggest your experience was an unfortunate anomaly.

    1. restaurants that enjoy some measure of success often begin to believe their own publicists' puffery and forget that they are in existence to serve the needs of their customers rather than to be a badge of honor to those who are lucky enough to be seated. after being shunted aside for 15 minutes, you should have INSISTED most politely to speak with the manager NOW and let him/her know that his staff was not performing well; the hostess was obviously part of the problem and not able to offer a solution. their lack of response to your email is proof positive that they are living in a fantasy of self-perfection that no longer includes guest satisfaction. obviously, do not ever spend another dollar there and see to it that a wide circle of friends and aquaintaces are aware of this haughty attitude of disregard to their comfort.

      1. Howard, have you been there?, it's really not that kind of place. It's chef-owned, more of a family run place than the kind of corporate atmosphere where you can demand to speak with a manager, etc, and I really don't believe their success has anything to do with a publicity machine of their own design.

        Monkey, I don't know, that's messed up. I'd have to agree with Leper on the unfortunate anomaly. Sorry to hear about your ruined evening.

        2 Replies
        1. re: babette feasts

          babette (love your handle...), no restaurant of any kind has a more important thing to do than handle customer complaints lest they chose to vote with their feet and spread bad news, both of which i hope monkey does. a hostess/host is the first person one meets in a restaurant and one who avoids you and gives eye-rolls to your complaints is hardly an "anomaly" - that no response was received to the email complaint verifies that this is just SOP. that harvest vine is 'chef-owned' and 'family-run' does not prevent it from being guilty of believing its own hype and thinking itself just too wonderful to deal with silly things like unhappy guests. yes, i've been there and yes,i liked it but, apparently, i was lucky i didn't need to complain to anyone.

          1. re: howard 1st

            Oh, of course the hostess' behavior was inexcusable, I just meant that it's such a small place there may not be a floor manager. Not like at some big corporate place where there's multiple managers and a whole hierarchy. I like the place but they do seem a bit harried at times. Still, no excuse of course.

        2. I had decent service there at a recent dinner, but surprisingly the food was merely fine, and not as great as in the past. All the dishes were dressed very simply, which is fine, but I didn't feel like there was a symphony of true yet distinct flavors like I have at Lark or at Crush. Even the foie gras was just ok.

          1. I had at one time really liked Harvest Vine from the time it opened and have dined there many times over the years, including special food/wine dinners, highlighting regional spanish cuisine.

            Unfortunately, the last time I went there (about 5-6months ago) I had a similar experience to monkeypuzzled. The service was horrible--the waitress was rude, condescending and made us constantly feel like she was doing us a favor. She even poured herself a taste of one of the bottles of wine we had ordered without asking, and simply remarked..I'm sure you won't mind if I try a little. What were supposed to say at that point?!!

            The food was acceptable, but somehow the place completely lost its luster at that point. We had chosen this place as the one dinner to have with good friends in town for one night from the SF-bay area, who are serious foodies. Needless to say, our friends were appalled at the service and unimpressed with seattle food. I have never been back again.

            1. I used to love harvest vine but will agree with most of you that lately the shine has rubbed off the place a bit.
              It seems that either the food is great and the service is awful or vica-versa. I do think that the addition of the downstairs seems to have pushed the kitchen a bit too much for them to keep up with at times. I think that sitting at the bar with just another person is the only way to enjoy the place. Like Lark, the food seems to be designed with 2-3 diners in mind and sitting in front of the person who is making your dinner seems to be the key to yummy food. I'd recommend another try to any disenchanted .. try a weeknight, insist on upstairs and enjoy.

              1. And I must go back the other way. Last night was my first visit here, we had a fantastic experience, and the service played a role in it. The circumstances should have suggested that the problems complained of on this post would arise: there was a large group in the cellar behind us that was toting numerous bottles of wine and was intimate with the chef and staff and commanding attention, the upstairs was busy as well. Still, we had attentive but not overbearing help from two different servers, who seemed to each be in touch with the sporadic pattern of ordering that a tapas place like this creates. The food was impeccable, probably the best tapas I have had, even including meals in San Sebastian, barcelona, and NYC. (Of course, in Spain, I didn't really do any research in choosing places). Maybe its just the luck of the draw on any given night at HV.

                1. Equinoise, My experiences at Harvest Vine re-enforce your review. I am consistently amazed by the flavors. Most restaurants may excel at one or two entres; Harvest Vine's unique tastes continue to impress me.

                  1. We have been to Harvest Vine about 15 times in past few years and it is a favorite. Sorry to hear of your bad treatment. I have seen a few cases of major attitute from the hostess (who seem to turn over often), but usually one of the great waiters, like Juan (heavy set, about 35) makes it all work out. The orignal chef and owner is rarely there these days. Everything slips without passinate attention to the fundementals.