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Mar 22, 2007 08:12 AM

Review of Clyde's Gallery Place

Hi, chowhounds,

I was so disappointed with my experience at Clyde's that I've registered to tell you about it. I expect to be contributing more than this -- I love talking about restaurants!

Last Sunday night, we went to Clyde's in Chinatown for my husband's birthday. We chose it because we thought they'd be able to handle our group of 10 and because of their reputation for consistency and good service. When I made my reservation, I let them know it was for a birthday party and asked if I could bring in a cake (I could, for a fee).

When we met our friends at the bar I realized that we were expecting 11 people (my fault). My husband said, "That won't be a problem -- this is Clyde's! They'll do anything for you." I told the host we might have an extra guest. He said the table would be too crowded with 11 and that they would not be able to seat all of us together. This ended up not being an issue because we had one unexpected no-show. But I was disappointed with the young host's lack of interest in my problem.

I had handed over the cake to the host, who said it would go in the fridge and that my server would be told about it.

Our orders for appetizers and entrees were taken and served in a timely fashion. But no one ever, even once, checked on us to see if everything was okay. Things weren't okay. My salad was overdressed and my husband's steak wasn't cooked to order -- but we would not have sent them back anyway. More importantly, we wanted drinks. I had to wave down the server to get a second glass of wine. Had the server been at all attentive, he probably could have sold us about 20 more drinks.

Halfway through entrees, I decided to get up and go find the server to ask him privately about the cake, to head off any problems. He hadn't heard about the cake.

Then we sat. And sat. Waited until it became awkward and I was frankly angry. Our server hadn't been within sight for more than a half hour. No one came to clear the dishes that remained on the table. My husband got up to try to find a manager. Finally the cake came. But no silverware to eat it with. The server brought plates -- but they were too small (saucers rather than dessert plates). It became a comedy. I picked up the carafe of water -- surprise! no water!

Here's the best part: The manager breezed by. He was utterly perfunctory. I explained to him that we'd waited a long time for the cake. He explained that they hadn't been able to find the cake! They'd been trying to track it down! One of our friends made a jokey comment that he'd also been waiting a long time for a beer. The manager smirked and said, "Sounds like you should be at the bar!" Then he went away.

We were dumbstruck. Did he actually say that? Yes, he did. After some moments of contemplation, my husband, who used to manage restaurants, went after the manager and explained to him that the proper response was to get our friend a beer. And apologize.

When I received the check, I saw that the four beers that our party of ten had consumed had been taken off the bill. In addition, they did not charge me the $3.50 per person corkage-type fee for serving the cake. This was fine, but we don't raise ruckus at restaurants to get items taken off the check.

We tipped 20 percent, because I felt that many things went into our crappy experience, our inattentive waiter being a part. (It's Clyde's fault that he is poorly trained.)

We and our friends have all worked or still work in the service industry. Any restaurant should be glad to have us. I didn't have any wild expectations -- I just wanted our special occasion to feel special. Instead we were treated like poop.

I conclude that Clyde's has no respect for its customers at its Chinatown location.

Where would have you told our group of 10 to go for an upscale but affordable dinner?

Thanks, readers!

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  1. that's pretty bad, and right in line with my experience there.. though we were eating in the bar area so I thought that had something to do with the inattentive service. The food arrived late and was subsequently cold.

    1. Clyde's used to be fine for a solo burger and a beer at the bar, but they've even been screwing that up lately. Burnt burgers in Tysons, seating next to toilets/freezer ducts in Georgetown, glacial service at Old Ebbitt. I'd wager the Gallery Place location doesn't really have to give decent service. They do enough volume to make up for the lost business.

      Also, I thought they included the gratuity in the bill for parties of 8 or more? If that's the case, I guess you tipped 38% on that lousy service.

      Burma around the corner would have been able to handle your party.

      1 Reply
      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Thanks, sixfive and monkey! I'll take a look at Burma next time.

        They didn't put the gratuity in the bill. I guess they figured that they better not or we'd continue to raise a stink.

        I hadn't been to any Clyde's for a long time, but my memory had been that they put a special emphasis on great service. And I thought that their new Gallery Place location looked so attractive! What I mean is, I knew that Clyde's was never a "great restaurant," but I thought it would be good for our birthday party purposes.

        Not so! I'll never go there again.

        On another note, I do like Old Ebbitt for eating oysters at the back bar. They have an awesome bartender back there and we've never been disappointed.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Been to Clyde's Columbia a few times. Service was always spotty, sometimes good sometimes lacking - but I've always found the food to be like eating a big bowl of OK. Really wonder what happened to the place.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LGood

            That's a perfect description of that location. Clyde's is not worth the bother. If you have to eat in that area, you're better off at Sushi Sono.

          2. I normally dine at the Clyde's location in Chevy Chase and have had no problems. The waitstaff have been attentive every visit. In fact I ate there this past Monday (I normally go on Fridays). Crowds were not a problem and they have a special on Mondays for half-price bottles of wine. It's by the Friendship Heights metro. They validate parking, if you choose to drive. You should have brought your group to this location instead.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Triple Z

              I've been to four different Clyde's locations over the years and, while the food varied from good to to so-so, the service has generally been pretty bad. It is possible that there are not enough servers or that a server has a hike to get to the kitchen and doesn't want to go there too often, but mainly food is delayed for longer than expected. If there are reasonable alternatives that suit your situation at the time, you would be better off taking them rather than going to Clyde's.

              1. re: BookGuy

                I usually love the food and enjoy the service. Well, each to their own.

                1. re: ChewFun

                  They couldn't keep track of a cake? Oi things must be going downhill. I hit the Friendship Heights one every couple of months after work, simple burger and a drink. Usually fine on that count, but it seems like other locations just dont care about decent service, not even stellar, just par.