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Pauline's in Burlington... Been Recently?

Last month my husband and I went to Pauline's, one of our favorite casual, relaxing getaways. It hurts me to say this, but it was the third time we've been there recently where the service was poor (rude, inattentive, or both) and the food wasn't up to their usual standards (chicken overcooked, steak too dry, beancakes too mushy.) Since then, we haven't been back. We don't go out to eat much (once or twice a month, maybe) but we always look forward to an evening out, and are pretty bummed with this sudden turn of events.

I have not contacted the restaurant, but was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience recently?

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  1. My wife and I do lunch there every other month or so. They seem to have acquired in the last year or so a collection of very bohemian waitstaff who have this perpetually bored/disinterested manner. If the service was top notch, I wouldn't care a lot, but the service hasn't been much better than adequate.

    I don't think your experience is unusual, though I will say every time we've been there, the food has been quite well prepared.

    1 Reply
    1. re: signothetimes53

      I wrote of Pauline's quite a some time ago. There are many other choices that appreciate their guests and show it by hiring a staff that actually cares. Read some of the reviews of Taste, The Kitchen Table, Trattoria Delia, and L'Amante. For example, we dined at Taste last week (full review on another thread). Today we received a personal Thank You card from the owner. When is that last time a restaurant made such a gesture ? I can not honestly say that I can remember.

    2. I assume the location is Burlington, Vermont?

      8 Replies
        1. re: TonyO

          Hey Tony,
          I read your review of the wine pairing dinner at Taste... it sounded like a class-act night, and now with a "thank you" to boot! Unfortunately when my husband and I went to Taste, we didn't receive the best service in the world (and the restaurant was pretty much empty.) It wasn't awful, just very slow and inattentive (it took too long to take our order, we weren't offered a drink first, our water was never refilled, and our dessert took waaay too long, although the waitress did apologize for that.) It wasn't completely horrible, but if given a choice of an all out night-on-the-town again, I think I would choose Trattoria Delia, because I've heard similar complaints about Taste, and I worry the experience would again be repeated. And since the warm weather is soon approaching (well, here's hoping!) I might also choose Shelburne Farms... same quality, with service I can trust.

          1. re: katiepie

            I think Taste may have a varying level of servers (as most places do). Judging from my experiences there, I think they will address this. Generally, as word travels about the quality of a restaurant, it is able to draw the best employees (assuming other areas such as management attitude, pay, and benefits are in line). In this area especially, I have found very few restaurants that have a fully competent staff (especially wait/bar staff). Even Trattoria and Shelburne Farms have had a few duds through the years. It happens, the key is to sort them out and send them packing ! In places where tips are pooled, this will happen naturally when servers force the weakest of the herd out. The owner of Taste seems to have a sincere desire to please his guests, which to me is a major key to long term success. I don't doubt for a second that is any guest of Taste had a less than satisfactory experience that the owner would make sure it was fully remedied.

            1. re: TonyO

              I'd have to agree with TonyO on this one. I'm sure the chef would take your critique very seriously and want to make good by you.

              I think that Burlington is especially tough as there aren't a lot of "full time, professional" servers to choose from- Mostly college kids working while in school.
              When did you dine there Katie? Did you make your displeasure known? If you did, how did they handle your complaint? I've mentioned this before but since I've been going there (about 2 years or so) they have really seemed to hit their groove and are operating at a very high level. I don't think that there is better food or atmosphere in the area. The place is classy yet relaxed and fun- not at all stuffy. I hope they open their outdoor patio again this year- The sunsets are wonderful on the waterfront!

              1. re: OCatswell

                TonyO and OCatswell... this makes me smile, lol! The reason I tried Taste was because you both spoke of it so highly and so often... I can tell that you don't want me to give up. OCat... I didn't complain... my husband and I just figured we'd go somewhere else next time. But maybe we'll give it another shot... you are both convincing me with your impassioned responses, lol!

                TonyO... you are right about the server piece... actually, I use to work at Trattoria Delia and many of their waitstaff are professional servers. Other restaurants like Pauline's or Taste employ college kids. I sometimes think my husband and I are easy to "slack" on because we look much younger than we are. I know I shouldn't complain, but I'm 35 and still get carded for drinks. Maybe if I wasn't such a "peer" I'd get better service... I don't know. I'll try Taste again, and let you guy know what happens!

                1. re: katiepie

                  I have commented on the state of service in Burlington before (and received some harsh criticism from some). I agree that the larger part of the server base is college students (not inherently a problem) but the fact is very few restaurants have a professional approach to food and wine service. Many people confuse proper service with pretention, which I do not enjoy. Here is what I do enjoy/expect/appreciate: a properly set table including decent stemware, attentive and polite service, knowledgeable waitstaff that can describe( with accuracy) any food item on the menu, owners/managers that empower their staff to make simple decisions, owner/management operated restaurants, simply prepared fresh food that is served at the proper temperature, and gestures that show appreciation.

                  I can certainly forgive an overcooked steak (it happens), a restaurant being out of a certain item (just not half the menu !), or service that is stressed on a busy night (sympathy from years in the business and knowing what it is like to have no diswashers and cooks/waitstaff/manangers that are hungover). It is nice to go to places that have the same faces (employees) that make you feel welcome. That seems to be rare in this market as turnover is high (college students graduate eventually !). To me, it all comes back to the owner/manager and how much passion they have about making their restaurant an excellent operation. Over time, the best places will draw the best employees.

                  1. re: TonyO

                    Actually, the best places will train the employees, hopefully for the better. . .

                    1. re: phoebek

                      Agree, part of the passion to be the best. It is amazing how many restaurants have virtually no training programs in place.