Blue Room Easter Brunch: What Would You Do? [moved from Boston board]
Like most people on this board, I love the Blue Room's Sunday Brunch. Yesterday, I called to see if they were having an Easter Brunch and sure enough they were. They mentioned the price was $30 (several dollars about their normal brunch price of $22 - $23). When I enquired if they were having anything special for Easter/the increased price, they said they were going to have premium items like ham, duck confit, rabbit etc.
Went to the brunch today - which was excellent as always. They did have a few extra dishes (e.g., rabbit, seafood medley, etc) - but no ham or duck confit. When I asked the cook if they had any ham in the back, he said it had not come in on the truck.
As I was leaving, the hostess/manager enquired how the meal was. I mentioned it was great but was disappointed about the ham and duck confit not being on the menu as they had promised less than 24 hour earlier. She just shrugged her shoulders
Here's my question - would you have been disappointed about the items not being on the brunch and if so, how would you have handled it?
first, my experience with buffet type brunches is that one cannot always count on dishes being the same all the way through service, so i don't think it's prudent to pin one's hopes on a dish.
second, the chef had no reason to lie to you. stuff like that happens all the time, and the chefs also change their mind at the last minute. it doesn't occur to them to tell the person answering the phone.
lastly, i would have been disappointed with *just a shrug*. that's not the typical attitude there.
you did have a lovely meal. chalk it up to eating out on a crazy busy holiday.
I would have been disappointed yes, but I would not say that you were promised those items, I think it could be taken several ways and the person on the phone may just have been mentioning several items that the chef had said he was hoping to be able to obtain, or items that had been served at previous Easter brunches as examples. Either way, I think you handled it the best way you could, but the manager certainly missed an opportunity to correct a situation that left you less than impressed.
I would be most bothered by the hostess/managers response, particularly if you're certain it was the manager. I love the brunch there as well and go often so I too would be looking for something out of the ordinary due to the price hike. I also agree that this stuff happens all the time. I don't know that you can fault the person you spoke to on the phone a day earlier. The Chef probably knew 24 hours in advance that some items were missing but the front of the house probably discovered what was on the menu yesterday morning. If I were really bothered I'd probably send an email politely noting that the offerings were a little lackluster for the price yesterday.
i think the hostess responded completely inappropriately. i don't think the restaurant should be held responsible for not having special dishes, but if the hostess asks how your meal was, she should be able to respond more thoughtfully than just shrugging her shoulders. i think that was very bad customer service.
as for things not arriving on the truck. i am reading anthony bourdain's kitchen confidential, which maybe everyone has read already, but i am finding that i am much more sensitive to the difficulties of the business. if something runs out or is not provided, it can be a number of people's fault. i would be hesitant to blame the waiter, the chef, or the restaurant, at all.
It's an interesting question about responsibility. If there was a miscommunication between the kitchen and the front desk...I can understand the snafu but its the restaurant's fault.
Also, if the restaurant was going to serve duck confit - you'd think this would have had to be prepared at least days in advance.
Finally, I'm impressed that everyone is so understanding about them pledging to have ham and then not having it (it didn't come in on the truck). Not having the promised ham on Easter is akin to not having turkey on Thanksgiving...
I don't think anyone suggested that the misinformation is not the restaurant's fault. I can tell you that I'm more sympathetic than most b/c I have friends that own, manage, bartend, serve, etc. It's a tough business, especially on insanely busy days (Easter, New Years, Valentine's day and Mother's Day are a few that come to mind). I've had very good experiences at the Blue Room for years and for that reason can easily cut them some slack.
I find the Blue Room brunch to be pretty casual, which is part of the appeal for me. I also know that offerings tend to change depending on what time I get there (for instance shrimp may be long gone if they had a bunch of shrimp eaters in the hours before I arrived). It's the nature of a buffet in my mind. You plan for demand but occasionally demand is larger than it is ordinarily.
I guess I also run different scenarios through my head as well. Like, Saturday whoever answered the phone may not have been on shift long enough to get a "uh-oh the Easter brunch menu has changed" memo. Things in the kitchen are constantly in flux. Maybe the person who inquired about the meal had never heard that duck confit was ever going to be on the menu and was clueless about what the customer was talking about? I would find it tough to provide an informed response. A shoulder shrug is a terrible response but I'm figuring this person has been slammed on a holiday so if she was polite and had a smile for everyone I would deal. I'd also assume this was NOT the manager on duty. I haven't had a bad meal at the Blue Room so I feel like it's easy to be generous if there was an oversight.
I'm also assuming (which I know I shouldn't do) that there was something out of the ordinary available. Before I replied I also looked to see if they advertised any menu items on their web site and since they didn't I wouldn't say that they failed to deliver a "promised" anything.
Great response, kittychow.
Like some of the other posters, I agree that you were probably not talking to the manager but to a hostess. No, she shouldn't have shrugged. She should have apologized and asked if you wanted to speak to a manager.
However, at the point when you complained, what did you expect the restaurant to do? If you had brought up the complaint to the right person before or during the meal, then perhaps there could have been a solution. (But then again, if there's no ham, there's no ham. The chef sounds like he answered your question as to why there wasn't ham. If you had asked the chef to get a manager, you might have gotten the offer of a substitute perhaps. But again, if there's no ham, what will you accept as a reasonable replacement that isn't already being offered on the buffet?) When you complain as you're exiting, not a lot can be done to fix your meal--and too often guests who do this are merely angling for a discount or a voucher for free food or drink. No, you're probably not this type of person, but if you've worked in a restaurant, you've seen this tactic employed a million times by less than pleasant patrons and it gets old.
Anyway, if ham is a deal-breaker on Easter Sunday, then you'll know next time to have a look at the buffet before you sit down to eat, even if you've been "promised" ham by whomever answers the restaurant's phone.
The OP doesn't complain a whit about the table service, so I would be hesitant to level a charge of "inexcusably poor service" at the restaurant.
Wow, you are much nicer than I am -- being deprived of ham on Easter would probably have made me take the server's head off. Which raises the question (which, on rereading, I know is easy in hindsight, and I apologize if this makes the situation sound like it was in any way your fault, because it clearly wasn't, but ...): Did your server check in during the meal to see how everything was? If not, that's inexcusably poor service. Though it sounds as if you might have gotten another shrug from him/her.
I second the suggestion to send an email. Crossing my fingers for you that the shrugger isn't the person checking the account!