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Apr 9, 2007 12:49 PM

Le Fandy experience - your thoughts?

My husband and I finally made it to Le Fandy in Fair Haven on Wednesday night. We arrived at 6 and were the only diners there for the entire meal. Our waiter was warm and attentive and we talked about the restaurant's Chowhound fame. We overheard him telling the chef about it. At the chef's prompting, the waiter returned with specific questions about the forum and web address. The chummy vibe made us even more excited about the yummy-ness we knew we were about to experience (you know the feeling, right?).

Having never had it before, we asked about the skate special. Our server showed us a piece from the kitchen. Intrigued, we decided this would be the place to try it. My husband ordered the mushroom soup and the skate, and I ordered the lobster crepes and halibut. We were served a too-chilled but tasty amuse buche. The soup was good and the crepes were divine. Our entrees arrived, both so beautiful, I wish I had my camera. As I drooled over my halibut, I noticed an odd look on Nick's face as he took his first bite of skate. "What's wrong?" "Taste this." I did. While at first the skate's flavor was sweet and creamy, the flavor changed quickly to ammonia. That's what he noticed too. Our waiter scooped the plate away immediately and explained that this was a rare but well-known phenomena with skate. We overheard him discussing this with the chef. Our server came back and didn't offer to have the dish remade, but instead asked Nick to choose something else. He went for the halibut.

During the 10-minute wait for the new entree, our server didn't offer to keep my plate warm or replace my plate. I realize that keeping the plate warm would result in overcooked fish. In my experience, in a restaurant of this caliber, diners enjoy courses simultaneously unless they request otherwise. If it were a bustling weekend night, I'd chalk it up to simple oversight and not give it another thought, but we were the only ones there.

I had creme brulee (fine) and coffee (horrible).

The vibe with our server remained friendly. I was shocked that the chef didn't come speak with us. I was shocked that Nick wasn't offered a complimentary coffee or dessert (which he would have refused). Our server seemed embarrassed as he held the door for us to leave.

A simple acknowledgment of the mishap, a hello, a handshake, something, any demonstration of "I care" from the chef/proprietor and we'd be regulars. A little friendliness goes a long way with us. Am I wrong to be disappointed?

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  1. Here is what I found online about the ammonia issue: "Skates like sharks excrete their excess urea through their skin. If the skate is not handled properly after capture, the urea can contaminate the fish meat. Contaminated fish meat smells like ammonia." Other sites indicate that the amonnia smell is indicative of the fish being out of water for too long. I've enjoyed skate both at home and at restaurants on numerous occassions and have never experienced this condition. I agree - they handled this situation quite poorly. The point of dining is that all patrons eat at the same time. At a minimum you should have received an apology and some sort of comp for your troubles. I didn't enjoy my one meal at this restaurant several months back and do not intend to return. Sorry about your evening.

    1. This is my go-to place these days too ...

      Truth is that I rate service almost par with food. And this is across the board, not just at high end places. I don't care if I am sitting on a tree stump eating out of paper plates as long as it was served to me with a smile.

      Having said this, I still can honestly say that I love them all at Le Fandy. Thank goodness too or I would run out of nice places to go locally :o)

      I had a similarly bad experience at Avenue in Long Branch and I still have not been back. I have resolved to be more to be more forgiving this year, but so far I am failing to live up to my resolution.

      I guess what I am saying is that I understand completely. I'm sorry your bad experience happened at a place I love. One of our joys as hounds is sharing our joy with others, but joy and sorrow often go hand in hand.

      Maybe it is time I went back to Avenue...

      1. It's one thing for something like that to happen at a diner, but when you're paying over 20$ for an entree that kind of service is absolutely unacceptable.

        Personally, when I go to a restaurant and get a bad entree I never ask to have it replaced with something else. It just never seems to work out - like you mentioned, eiether your party is dining without you or you end up getting stale food. But the key really is how they deal with the situation and only a few places seem to be capable of keeping you happy after a messed up entree.

        2 Replies
        1. re: joonjoon

          I'm not impressed with La Fandy. $200.00 for 3 people and its a BYO? I dont think so !!!. Food is either good, average or just plain bad. The 3 of us agreed this food is all average and we all had something different. No food on this planet is worth 40 plus dollars for an entree unless you know it contains something rare and expensive. When did a rack of lamb become 3 small chops? It equates to about 4 Tablespoons of meat. When you leave, your still hungry. If you've got the money to blow, good for you.

          1. re: robert1456

            Unlike Nicholas, which gets almost uniformly positive reviews on this board, the opinions about Le Fandy are more disputatious. You might want to have a look at this thread:

        2. What's most frustrating about Le Fandy is that it is so close, yet so very far... especially when you consider that the most glaring problem areas are much easier to fix than that of, say, the talent of the chef (which is highly appreciated). They need big help on lots of little things, but there is promise is things can be fixed.

          9 Replies
          1. re: aklein

            Based on the personality of the chef/owner, I doubt if he is interested in "fixing" the problems that many on this board have pointed to because he doesn't see things that way. (Note during the two dinners we've had there, both during the week when only a few tables were occupied, we did not encountered any problems.)

            1. re: RGR

              sorry to hear that, RGR... not sure Le Fandy carries enough weight to remain uninterested in fixing issues like confused staff, inconsistent food and overall mixed performances, especially when you consider the size of the restaurant ... if they have to wait for a slow Wednesday to be on top of their game, then Chef Ong has a problem... along with a lot of nerve in charging what he charges when, according to you, he doesn't care. It ain't that great!

              And while I was considering a return, if what you say is true -- that he doesn't see things that way and isn't interested in fixing what appears to be many repetitive problems -- then I will NEVER go back.

              1. re: aklein


                I wasn't talking off the top of my head. The fact is, Chef Ong has posted a couple of responses on this board in which he made it quite clear how he felt about the criticisms rendered here, i.e., he viewed them as grossly unfair. With that kind of attitude, I daresay, he won't be making adjustments anytime soon. (Note: Those posts were subsequently deleted by the moderators.)

                1. re: bgut1


                  Especially in *this* particular case, my head would have exploded if you didn't! ;-) lol

                  1. re: RGR

           should A.W.R. and I will take extra care not to cause anyone's head to explode the next time I have a vastly different and critical opinion than the others here... silly me, expecting chef to care about the customers who pay top dollar for his food... and that it's ok to be sloppy if his tiny restaurant gets busy on a saturday night, using the excuse that everything if fine in a slow midweek night... I dare say he won't have to make adjustments for many people in the area, and soon his restaurant will always be quiet, so the service and preparations can always be perfect.... ;->

                    1. re: aklein


                      That reference to my head exploding was an inside joke between bgut and me. lol Rest assured that I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me so long as we can do so in an aimiable fashion. :-) Carry on....

                      1. re: RGR

                        thanks for that... i want the same, just felt like screaming "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

                        no worries.... moving on then!

                    2. re: RGR

                      Re: "head exploding" - touché RGR