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Brophy Bros - Santa Barbara - Disappointment, Rude Manager

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We were in Santa Barbara over the weekend and made it over to Brophy Bros for dinner. We have eaten there several times but only for lunch and have always enjoyed our meals there. Unfortunately, this time we ended up very unhappy. Our meal started off OK, with some good fried calamari.

For dinner I picked the halibut, my husband was undecided so the waitress suggested the swordfish. We have had very dry swordfish in the past but she said it would not be dry and really recommended it. We got cups of clam chowder with our dinner that were outstanding as usual but then it went downhill.

My halibut arrived and was ok, nothing special. The swordfish was extremly dry and flavorless. So dry that we actually mentioned it to the waitress and she said we could order something else. My husband decided on salmon thinking it would be good. It was awful. It came out completely watery and flavorless. It had a tomatillo sause that was scorching hot that basically boiled it and had no flavor. It was inedible. The fries that came with it were also flavorless and soggy. The coleslaw was also not great. He basically helped me finish my plate and we did not touch his plate. We mentioned it to the waitress and she apologized and asked if we wanted anything else, at this point we just decided to get the bill.

When the bill came out we were surprised that the dinner was still charged to us. However, when the manager came by and asked if everything was ok we decided to be honest and told him about our issues. He proceeded to tell us that WE had wasted two good pieces of fish and that he did not want to take it off the bill. He actually said that it wasn't the money but the principle that we wasted fish. He was extremely rude and tried to blame us, when they were the ones that cooked the fish improperly.

He grabbed our bill and said he would take it off but was really rude about it. I then saw him talking to another employee and pointing at us and laughing. Basically we felt like he was blaming us for the bad meal. We walked out very upset and it ruined our meal completely.

I have always had good meals at Brophy's and I hope this manager was just having a bad night. We really left unhappy and at this point are unsure we will return. My fish was nothing special and after our treatment its not worth spending $60+ on dinner when there are so many other SB restaurants to pick from.

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  1. Wow that is rude. I like their basic fried seafood and salads, but have never been that fond of the fish. But Brophy's service has always been very good. Sorry you had such a bad time. Hopefully it was a bad night not a change in general attitude.

    1. Carlie- May I suggest that you call during the week and ask to speak with the general manager? Ask if he was the one that was working the nite that you were there. Hopefully it won't be the same rude guy. There is no excuse for that!

      1. I totally agree with your comment DCF. I was going to suggest tracking down the owner and sending him or her the complaint as written.
        Brophy's has treated me well for years and I'm saddened to hear of this.

        1. Pointing at you and laughing, and being "rude" (whatever that entailed), is obviously unprofessional and inexcusable and no more needs to be said (I agree this should be brought to the attn of the GM).

          However, I'm not sure how I feel about the issue of the check: It seems like your husband was served two entrees (usually $18-$20 at Brophy's), then you expected to not be charged for them because he didn't like them. The swordfish being dry when the waitress told you it wouldn't be was unfortunate but remedied by allowing you to order something else. Then he didn't enjoy the tomatillo sauce on the salmon, but calling it "inedible" still boils down to a matter of preference, since I'm assuming they probably sold a lot of those salmon entrees that night which were eaten and enjoyed perfectly well. I'm just pointing out that I don't think I expect to not pay for food just because I am not happy with it. If I see a trend (after a couple visits), I either adjust my menu choices or decide whether to stop eating at a place altogether.

          I realize I'm commenting on a broader, general Chowhound issue ("Paying for Bad Food?"). It's good to hear about your experience (that's why these boards are so great); I just essentially disagree with your initial approach to the situation. However, comping your husband's meal would be peanuts for a restaurant like Brophy's, and the better decision for the manager would have been to just comply with your request instead of making the situation worse by "arguing" with you, even though he probably did disagree with you on "principle" (as I do).

          1. The manager's behavior is completly immature and should be brought to the attention of the owner, or GM. He did come over and ask you if your meal was okay and being honest should of given him a heads up that all may not be right with his chefs.
            I would of been taken aback by his response.

            I hope you follow up, I would not apologize for anything, they should of removed the dinners and said nothing but offer you another try another night. I'm willing to bet the way it was left, they have lost your business and maybe the business of a few others.

            1. Thank you all for your responses. I am thinking I may try to call and see what they say. Or maybe write a letter to the GM as you all suggested. Just to bring it to their attention so hopefully it won't happen again.

              In response to allegro805, I respectfully disagree with your first comment. Countless times we have had swordfish and salmon at other restaurants and enjoyed it. The reason we didn't this time was because of the way it was prepared, and that is the kitchen's fault. I can broil salmon at home and have it come out juicy, it shouldn't come out dry and boiled and tasteless.

              We were planning to pay the bill we were just a little surprised it was still on there, however when the Manager came by and asked us how our meal was we decided to tell him exactly what happened and suggest that maybe we should have had to pay for it. His response is what truly upset me. If he had apologized and been kind and still not taken it off the bill I would not have been as upset as I am. However, his response was to blame US and say we had wasted his fish. It was kind of shocking and I personally feel, not the appropriate way to handle customers that waited an hour to eat at your establishment.

              We have been to Brophy's many times, my in-law's love it, and probably for lunch I might go back. But the way we were treated kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I would rather spend my money elsewhere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: CarlieInLA

                I'm sorry to hear about the terrible service @ Brophy's, b/c I enjoy their food as well.

                And on occasions where an entree didn't suit me (I've only had 1-2 bites) and the waitperson asked if I'd like something else, the removal of the offending entree from the bill has always been the case at nicer restaurants. I'm not sure what I'd expect from Brophy's (since it's such a casual place).

                Please contact the restaurant and give them a chance to remedy the (possible) one-off. Let us know how it goes.