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Thuet - WTF?

k
kellytoronto Apr 19, 2007 11:55 AM

Has anyone experienced terrible service at Thuet. I hadn't been before, and had some colleagues from NYC up for dinner, so decided to try it out. We sat down in a 1/2 empty restaurant, the waiter came over and described the tasting menu (which we told him we wanted + wine pairings) and he left.

We kept trying to flag people down to get us a drink or something(!) but had no luck. It looked like he was the only person serving, along with about 4 busboys. After 45 minutes, several glasses of water, and a slice of bread each, we got up and left - over to the Spoke for dinner (which, maybe because of my hunger, was the best meal I've had there - spring menu was really good.)

Is this sort of indifferent service typical there? I can't understand why a server would want to piss off a high-revenue table...

  1. b
    bluedog Dec 19, 2007 12:47 PM

    I'm not sure this is going to mean much in the onslaught of negative opinion (and it soudns liek deservedly so), but I've been once, during Summerlicious no less, the room was very busy, and the service was professional, friendly and impeccable...much better than a snooty visit to Susur earlier that year...but it sounds like a lot of these "celebrity" chefs are just really horrific to work for.

    1. Splendid Wine Snob Dec 19, 2007 11:16 AM

      The renewal of this thread has prompted me to add further commentary.

      If a restaurant has difficulty keeping competent staff, this speaks volumes about upper management/ownership. This rings true for any business for that matter. Why can't Thuet keep good staff? More specifically, why are they constantly dogged by poor reviews regarding their service? As difficult as it may be to one's ego, an owner/manager must continually question management approach/ability. This becomes particularly important when high turnovers in staff become the norm. It is for this reason, as well as bad service experiences, that I avoid Thuet despite my feeling that he can turn out some incredible dishes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
        Googs Dec 19, 2007 12:05 PM

        I was thinking the exact same thing, SWS. That and would it kill them to equip themselves with some wireless comm so they can coordinate their staff?

      2. b
        bigos70 Dec 19, 2007 09:35 AM

        I went to Thuet last year for Winterlicious and had a waiter whose incompetence was frightening. My friend order a bottle of Cabarnet Sauvignon - he brought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc - when my friend commented that she ordered red wine he remarked something along the lines of "it's a Sauvignon, same difference really". If a waiter at East Side Marios made a comment like that I might just laugh, but in a place like Thuet? But the Alsatian Beef Bourguignon was so good I have been dreaming of it ever since - so at least there was something good about the experience. My friend emailed and got a response from Bianca, basically saying the waiter was new and he is no longer employed there.

        1. l
          lkomar Dec 18, 2007 05:45 PM

          I am a fan of Alsatian wine with Gewurtztraminer being my favourite and 2 years ago a friend and I went to Thuet to celebrate my birthday. I had been eagerly awaiting this dinner. Unfortunately, it was the one of the worst dining experiences of my life. We did not wait to be seated but service was slow. The place was half empty but there was a table of about 6 who came in after us who seemed to be getting more attention and swifter service. There was no Alstian Gewurtztrminer on the list of wines by the glass...this in a restaurant where the Chef claims he wants to highlight Alsace, his home. The waitress did not offer to open a bottle so I had to order the Cremant D'Alsace to get any Alstian wine by the glass. My friend ( who had spent 11 years...6 months a year living in Antibes ) ordered the tasting menu...I was hesitant about some of the things on the menu so luckily I opted to go a la carte. Our 3 rd course was definitley not warm and the plates were cold... we realized then that the previous 2 courses which had also been lukewarm probably should have been warm as well. We complained. We received a glass of icewine each as an appeasement. But when my friend decided she couldn't eat the pig trotters that were on her tasting menu....to make a long story short...we had a discussion with Chef Marc who got into an out and out fight about classical French cuisine with my friend and who didn't want to believe that I couldn't get a glass of Alsatian Gewurtztraminer in his restaraunt by the glass and asked why I didn't ask the waitress to open a bottle for me as if I should have known to do this because he can always use the Gewurtztraminer in his cooking..to which I replied I she didn't offer and I didn't know I could make such demands.Then he wanted to know why we hadn't complained earlier when the first few courses were not warm. His wife came over to aplogize for the bar, saying she had been in the back doing the books and that this particular waitress was new. I was offered a glass of Gewuztraminer which I deciined as I told them that I had a limit to the amount I could drink and wouldn't even be drinking the icewine that they had offered...and that perhaps they need to realize that people that have to drive themselves home can only drink so much wine...which is why it is even more imprtant that they be able to drink what they actually want to drink. We finally got our desserts ( the first ones that came were not ours ) and when the bill came I didn't know if they didn't charge us for wine and desserts because they had yet made another mistake or whether this was their offer of an apology for such bad service as they did not mention anything to us....So I had to ask them about the lack of charges as uncomfortable as it was... because I did not want to take advantage of them if they were not making us a peace offering.
          I still love Alsatian wine but I am very hesitant to go back. to Thuet..even not paying for the desserts and the wine it was an expensive evening and I am not sure I want to go through something like that again. When you realize that dinner at The French Laundry is $225 each for the dinner and $95 each for the wines and it is a wonderful experience...it makes you wonder. I do get their emails and some of the events look interesting but...I think the only way I would go back is if I were offered a free dinner.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lkomar
            p
            Pincus Dec 19, 2007 10:55 AM

            Curiosity makes me ask whether the charges were not on the bill because of a peace offering or a mistake.

            1. re: Pincus
              pinstripeprincess Dec 19, 2007 11:06 AM

              i suspect peace offering.

              "even not paying for the desserts and the wine it was an expensive evening"

          2. z
            zepcom Dec 18, 2007 11:59 AM

            I have been to Thuet three times. The first time, notwithstanding the reservation, the restaurant did not have a table for us and in fact it would be quite some time until we got the table. Granted, it was Sunday brunch, but still. After we got the table the service was fine. Second time was dinner and to confess the quality of the service did not stick out either way. Third time was lunch -- a late late lunch where the place was completely empty. Notwithstanding that, the service was non-existent. Had to go to the bar several times to have people speak to us.

            1. s
              smh2007 Dec 17, 2007 12:49 PM

              I went to Thuet for my staff Christmas party on Friday and didn't even get to eat. I can't comment entirely on the organization of the party but I have been led to believe that the original table set up discussed wasn't done and the room wasn't ready when the party organizer arrived. From my perspective, as a guest, it was bad slow service from the beginning. I arrived before 7 (the time planned for the meal) and managed, after a time, to get a glass of wine. I nursed that for well over an hour until we were seated after 8 pm. Granted we had a late arrival that held everything up but the time to order was terribly long form the time he arrived, we had to ask for wine to be served, we had to hound the staff to fill the water glasses and the food didn't arrive until after 9. By that point I was in a hypoglycemic melt down and actually had to leave.

              We heard that the Chef has a policy of not starting the next course until everyone had finished the previous one. Thank goodness I left as I would have been close to a coma if I had to wait that long for dinner.

              A staff member made a telling comment when I asked what the problem was. She said that "they always do that, they overbook and then can't handle it". Perhaps if the restaurant was empty they could get a meal out.

              8 Replies
              1. re: smh2007
                Kagemusha Dec 18, 2007 06:28 AM

                My in-laws went last week and endured exactly what smh described, service-wise. Their tastes tend to the conservative but they usually don't shy from "different." Simply put, they loathed the service and food.My Brit father-in-law termed it "hi-end stodge." Thuet doesn't look like a long-run resto.

                1. re: smh2007
                  ostracario Dec 18, 2007 07:39 AM

                  Yikes!

                  1. re: smh2007
                    Googs Dec 18, 2007 07:50 AM

                    I can't speak to whether or not the room was overbooked as you haven't really said whether the room was full or not.

                    I will say, though, that in my experience with many 'party planners' they have a tendency of changing everything at the last possible moment and then wonder why chaos ensues.

                    Not a defense for receiving poor service as service providers have to be able to respond to such things and really should just expect it. It would be mitigating if true, though.

                    1. re: Googs
                      Kagemusha Dec 18, 2007 08:00 AM

                      Bring on the mitigating circumstances, Googs! I'd like to "like" Thuet but a few too many friends and family willing and able to foot the bill have been put off by the show. Both he and his frau seem to rely often on bombast and BS to cover service and kitchen shortfalls. Fun's fun but no one wants a roller coaster ride every time their butt hits the chair.

                      1. re: Kagemusha
                        Googs Dec 18, 2007 08:08 AM

                        I have several issues with Thuet myself. Bombast is a very nice way to put it. In the specific case of smh, there may have been circumstances beyond their control. I've had far too many situations where the planner is not so planny, walks into the room minutes before doors, then attempts to change everything. Playing beat the clock isn't fun.

                        1. re: Googs
                          Mike from Hamilton Dec 18, 2007 10:16 AM

                          Having been on the other side of the party planner treatment (I am an ex industry worker as well), I can agree to a point. However, having to hound service staff to get drinks and refill water, especially if the kitchen is lagging behind?

                          Plus a good server in a professional environment should be able to tell if someone is having difficulties and have a clue about how to do something about it. My SO is diabetic and is required to eat on a fairly strict schedule to keep his blood sugar regulated. When a waitress at an Outback Steakhouse (I know, I know) knows enough to recognize that there is a health issue and brought him a regular coke and some bread to eat without being asked as the restaurant was swamped, understaffed and the kitchen was way behind...

                          1. re: Mike from Hamilton
                            ostracario Dec 18, 2007 03:06 PM

                            Oh, so now servers are supposed to be health professionals as well?
                            I wouldn't know a diabetic's needs from a hole-in-the wall, nor would I expect any server to know either. I think the issue here is Thuet and their lack of staff. Perhaps they've got a hard time keeping good staff.
                            That would explain why the few people who ARE there have a difficult time keeping up with things. A place like Thuet, that charges as much as they do for everything (their wine mark-ups are not exactly friendly to the wallet either), should have well-trained, professional staff who are given the tools that they need to serve the guests properly. I've been lucky there I guess. Our servers were there when we needed them to be, gone when we wanted them to be, and we had a great time.

                            1. re: ostracario
                              Mike from Hamilton Dec 19, 2007 04:12 AM

                              What I was saying is that if someone actually brings up to a staffer that they are diabetic and having a low blood sugar issue...bring them something with carbs to eat/drink! Or heck, at least ask them if there's anything you can do...especially at the prices Thuet is charging.

                  2. h
                    Homecookwil May 31, 2007 02:39 AM

                    It's not about high/low revenue tables. I've been there twice about a year ago, and it remains one of the best in Toronto. Service could be a little slow in peak hours, but like you said, it's not always packed. Brunch could be a little slow as well. But trust me the food is absolutely worth it. (By the way, the guy at the bakery is super-nice. He'll tell you what's good, and in the most honest way, and not so good... )Fantastic service on that part!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Homecookwil
                      m
                      millygirl Dec 17, 2007 02:04 PM

                      But if it's not so good AND he knows it then why are they selling it in the first place, is my question.

                    2. Olivia May 30, 2007 02:53 PM

                      Thanks for the heads up on Thuet.

                      Also, I'm with you that when you're spending that much on a meal, having to leave your table for any reason other then going to the loo is unacceptable--if I wanted DIY, I'd stay at home! ETA: to clarify, I'd leave too, and go somewhere else that deserves my business.

                      1. d
                        duchesse May 15, 2007 09:36 AM

                        I have eaten dinner there a half dozen times in the last year, and have had capable, attentive service. One time, the hostess remembered not only us but the couple who were our guests the last visit. I enjoyed the food, and had one truly memorable game tasting menu there. I've made many trips to France... while not formal, Thuet is authentic and enjoyable. PS If you are not getting your drinks, go up to the bar and tell the bar manager. They care more than the hostess.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: duchesse
                          k
                          kellytoronto May 15, 2007 11:29 AM

                          I've also made many trips to France, and prefer less formal spots. However, I'm used to not being ignored, and don't really feel like I should need to get up and walk to re-order my drinks. I'm not at a $10 pub, so don't want pub service.

                          1. re: kellytoronto
                            t
                            trevorstreet May 16, 2007 05:10 AM

                            It is such a shame to read about Thuet's service issues, however it seems to be a common complaint all over the city. I haven't been to Thuet in a while (I'm trying to get the most out of my Spoke Club membership as there is little else to go there for but to eat and drink and rub shoulders with the wannabes) but I do remember the food and service being exceptional.

                            1. re: trevorstreet
                              d
                              dgrayca May 16, 2007 06:53 AM

                              Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive this morning, it is a Wednesday afterall, but what do you mean by "the wannabes"? are you suggesting that you are a "someone" and everyone else there is a wannabe? What is a wannabe? I am a member, and I have a legitimate connection to media and/or arts as per the requirements. Am I a "wannabe"?

                              While I agree that the Spoke Club is primarily a dinner club, there are some other things there. their Wine Clubs are excellent for instance.

                              As for Thuet (bring this back in line with the thread) I have to agree with the service being a little cold and slow.

                              1. re: dgrayca
                                Finnegan May 30, 2007 08:29 AM

                                Service at Thuet needs a complete overhaul. Hire some people that know the meaning of customer service and take pride in their work and know something about the food being served. I still go to Thuet on occasion but not as often as I would if the service was better

                        2. susancinsf Apr 22, 2007 08:19 AM

                          I was there last summer and the service was great at the beginning (my server took drink and meal orders promptly, knew the menu, and had good advice on what to order), fine for most of the meal, and lagged a bit at the end, when it seemed to take a long time to get dessert and then the bill. However, even then at least service was proper (bill came after dessert). I was dining alone.

                          I don't remember the details of what I ate, but remember that the food was good to very good, but not spectacular. I had been looking for a place to eat a relaxing meal after a long flight fairly late in the evening (around 9:30 or ten pm), located near my hotel, and for that it filled the bill.

                          1. syoung Apr 21, 2007 11:33 PM

                            A while ago on another food board (which shall remain nameless!) people were commenting on how the food at Thuet was unspectacular at best and bland at worse and definitely not worth the high end price they were charging. Then Biana (Thuet's wife and restaurant owner) signed on and said all the posters were wrong and they didn't know what they were talking about. Her tone was very defensive and unkind even though all the other posters (and customers) were having similar issues with the restaurant's food and service.

                            Simply put, I don't think Marc and Biana care much what their customer think because they think they know better. That has resulted in the restaurant being more than half empty even on Fridays and Saturdays and then they changed it to a Bistro and added brunch but it looks like their attitude hasn't changed at all. It's really too bad because the restaurant opened with so much media attention and high expectations.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: syoung
                              p
                              phisherking Apr 22, 2007 07:26 AM

                              I recall the post on the other food site and I think it was not so much Biana saying everyone was wrong as she was trying to explain what went on behind the scenes. I thought she wrote well and admired her for her courage to post her feelings. That being said, there is no excuse for a server to be alone in a dining room in ANY restaurant, but sadly it seems to happen frequently in this city. Bad service is all over the place, but you can't always blame the worker . A server working alone is not responsible for the bad service, that is the responsibility of the management. Having a very brief stint as a server under my belt I could think of nothing worse than 40 people all needind(wanting) my attention at the same time. That's what waiter dreams are made of. If you had ever tasted Marcs food ( or met the man) you can tell thet he truely cares about pleasing people and loves food. It seems most people here are complaining about the service at Thuet and not the food, luckily that should be easy to fix now that word is out.

                              1. re: phisherking
                                e
                                EPIcureanTO Apr 23, 2007 03:16 PM

                                ^^I am in agreeance here- no excuses-ie if you have too many students, then hire some non- students. (unless they are in short supply for whatever reason-??_)

                                I have yet to visit Theut, but I am still adamant about doing so, as after witnessing the trials & tribulations on Food Tv's "openingsoon" I really am intrigued...

                            2. Splendid Wine Snob Apr 20, 2007 08:00 AM

                              Yes, I've only been once (for brunch), but had services issues as well. After arriving exactly on time for my reservation, the hostess proceeded to ignore me for a full 10 minutes while I watched her run around, completely disorganized, in an empty restaurant. She was not friendly. Our female server had very little knowledge about the menu, and brought the wrong dish to someone at our table, without apologizing.

                              And like mikeb said, it is too bad since the food was really outstanding.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                c
                                cutehinano Apr 20, 2007 08:31 PM

                                I've been to Thuet for both dinner and brunch, and the service has been ok. I was there for a group dinner and they were quite accommodating. As for brunch, the food is always amazing and the service is fine and hasn't made me not want to return.

                              2. mikeb Apr 19, 2007 02:24 PM

                                Yes we have had some bad service at Thuet--more amaturish, than anything. For example we have had waitstaff not knowing what's in the food, food runners being incomprehensible when describing a dish and then some

                                It's really too bad because the food is quite good.

                                1. mrbozo Apr 19, 2007 12:36 PM

                                  Sounds like a goofy approach to business. Maybe they think it's a world-class attitude they're affecting? Perhaps your server was an artist, focused on his career-making role (rather than a pro who takes pride in his job)? Hard to know these days.

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