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Brunch at General Lafayette Inn

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Yesterday my husband and I joined a large party for brunch at the General Lafayette. Wow, what a disappointment!

To begin, we had a reservation for 11:30. The reason for the brunch was a surprise birthday gathering. Despite the table being set and the room being over half empty upon our arrival, we waited for 15 minutes to be seated. This would have been okay if the rest of the meal had been up to our expectations, but unfortunately, there were so many problems.

The spring mix salad was old. I buy spring mix at home all the time, and I know the way it looks and tastes when it has gone bad. The spring mix yesterday was slimy, slippery, and dark -- in short, wilted and old. It should never have been served.

In addition to this, and far more important in the opinion of all in my party, were the strawberries on the pastry and cake platter. When I approached the platter I thought perhaps the strawberries had some sort of sugar coating. Upon closer inspection, I realized that all of the strawberries were completely moldy. There was not one on the platter that was not. It was, so to speak, "advanced" mold. It was white and thick, and mold such as this doesn't happen overnight. It looked as if whoever prepared the platter tried to cut away some of the moldy parts, but the strawberries were so far gone that it didn't help. We were all astonished and could not believe that any restaurant would find these old, moldy strawberries appropriate for serving! It made me reconsider everything I had ever eaten there and wonder if in my other meals I had ever eaten expired produce, bread, or fish/meat. If that wasn't bad enough, the cakes were all completely dry and stale. When we told our waitress she took a look, agreed that it was mold, and sent a male employee out to remove the platter. Shockingly, he tried removing only the strawberries, which were interspersed all throughout the cakes and pastries! The waitress did, however, instruct him to remove the platter entirely, which he then did.

I would also like to add that our service was quite poor -- we waited for a long time for drinks to be brought and for plates to be cleared. One member of our party was clearly double charged for gratuity, and the waitress initially argued with him and did not want to remove it, despite there being a clear error.

What a terrible experience!! We will definitely not be returning!

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  1. I have to say I think the General is cruising on its reputation alone right now. A while ago, my husband and I used to go all the time and it was great. After out last dinner there, I vowed I'd never go back. This was a few years back but at the time, the restaurant turned into a comedy club Saturday nights after the restaurant closed. Not sure if they still do it but I hope they don't because it is the worst idea.. Anyway, a group of 4 of us had reservations at a reasonable dinner time (around 8:00). They left us waiting at the bar for over an hour (we were close to leaving because the hostess was not accomodating at all and was actually kind of rude from what I recall). Anyway, it was well after 9:00 by the time we got seated. They had offered a three course fixed price dinner at the time (not sure if they still do that either) but the service was extremely slow and when we were mid way through our entrees they started trying to clear the restaurant out to cconvert it to the comedy club. They tried to move us to the bar while we were mid way through our dinner (what the f***!). When we refused, they tried to force us to pay the $20 cover for the comedy club. All we wanted to do was finish our dinner in peace. Of course, we refused that as well and they even tried to not serve us our dessert (which we paid for with the three course meal). We were so angry and called the manager over and he even treated us very rudely, as if we were trying to stall our meal to get a "free" comedy show. It was horrible, and the worst was that once the show started the lights were turned off and all we could hear was bad third rate comedy so we could not even converse with our friends. And the servers were glaring at us the whole time. I forget if the food was good or not but I will never forget how horrible that night was, and we spent well over a hundred and fifty dollars for the four of us for dinner, not counting the $$$ we spent at the bar when were were initially waiting for our table. The worst was that my husband called to complain the next day and they seemed as if they really did not care.

    Anyway, I do think they have a good bar though and their beer is pretty good.

    1. I've rarely been derisive on CH but the food (other than burgers and other sandwhiches) sucks at Gen Laf. This is from a person who is there once a week by the way (for the beer). They need to make a decision: strip down the menu or hire talent in the kitchen that can execute brunches and other quasi high end dishes properly. You can't get too adventurous without talent. I ordered their clams and portuguese sausage a few years back and their house made chicken liver pate. They were both completely dreadful.

      1. Yes, I totally agree that their beer and drinks are pretty decent. I do recall that in the past their food was better, but that was at least 6 or 7 years ago. I haven't been there in several years so Sunday's brunch was quite a surprise. AmblerGirl, your experience was terrible! I did write the manager an e-mail about the brunch, but have yet to hear back. Based on what you said about your last meal there and the manager's reaction to your complaint, my expectations for their response are pretty low!

        1. Update -- the General Manager just wrote back to my e-mail complaint. He was extremely apologetic about the problems with the food and with the service. He stressed that this was not the norm there and that he will speak to the staff. He also offered our entire party a dinner or brunch, as his guests, any time we'd like. It seems they are doing their best to make amends, which I appreciate! I figured that if I wrote the bad, I should certainly update everyone with the good, too!

          1. Oh my god! I'm so sorry. What a horrible experience.

            1. The food there is atrocious. A few years ago I bit into a chicken finger and it was raw. They wouldn't even comp it.

              1. What's interesting is that their beer can be anywhere from solid to very very good in terms of quality and selection. Obviously the manager there running the beer program isn't the same one who is running the food program.

                1. Havent been there for brunch and following a recent visit for dinner I dont think that I ever will. The wife and I were there for dinner this past Friday and while I'm in agreement with the fact that their beer is good, I'll tell you flat out the rest of dinner was not...tops i'd give it is mediocre. Indifferent waitstaff. More concerned with moving you along (even though the joint was pretty empty) than service.

                  Tried the calamari app. Was bland, lukewarm, greasy.
                  Crabcakes - gummy..definitely not lump crab meat..or even bump
                  Pork 2 ways - (Crispy Belly and Grilled tenderloin) - No, very definitely no. Belly was definitely not crisp, just a hunk of warm fat and the tenderloin was 4 very undersized pieces, accompanied by cold sulphury rabe (rapini?) and some dull fregola.

                  The one bright note was their beer. If you plan to drink till you cant taste than this is the place for you .. chow!

                  1. General Lafayette Inn could be (should be!) a Gold Mine since that neighborhood has no strong contenders with a liquor license. Sorrento's (around the corner from GLI on Ridge Pike) has good food but no ambience or liquor license. Ditto for The Boot. What's wrong with this picture? A smart person would go to at least minimal efforts to capture the hungry population located between upper Roxborough and Plymouth Meeting. Why are fundamental dishes so difficult for General Lafayette Inn?

                    1. Found this on a beer website:

                      http://jackcurtin.com/ldo/?p=1044

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chefmonty

                        I'm not surprised. To me it was like the beer came first and the quality of the food was always an afterthought.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          I agree. We used to go there fairly frequently, while the food was not the best, the beer was good and my husband and I had some nice memories there so we continued to go.

                          Well a few years back we had a horrible experience that completely stopped us from going. I won't go into the gory details but basically we arrived on time for a reservation but were stuck waiting over an hour and a half at the bar, no excuses from the hostess etc. We finally got seated, very late, and the table ordered 3 course fixed price dinners. Well, midway through our main course, they started "converting" the main dining room into a comedy club and had the nerve to ask us for a $20/head cover charge. We refused and someone (maybe the manager) came over, berated us by saying we were trying to scam the system and get a free comedy show (trust me we were not interested in low rate comedians we just wanted to finish our dinner) and tried to kick us out. We refused, because we still had to finish our meals. So we were stuck eating in a comedy club in the dark and the servers stopped coming over. Horrible. We called the restaurant and spoke to the manager the next day and they basically did nothing (they apologized but just passed responsibility to the night manager). We never went back since. It could be the worst experience I ever had at a restaurant and we were there very regularly before this experience.

                          1. re: AmblerGirl

                            wow...thats terrible. I read the email from the owner earlier this week, and was rooting for these guys to make it....after reading these posts and hearing some consistent mismanagement on their part I can't say i'm still rooting for them.

                            I've never been to Gen. La Inn. but i did eat and drink at the Tiedhouse in fairmount when it was open and found the beers over priced and the food lacking.

                            Maybe these people should just run the brewery and sell beer. forget a restaurant or brew pub....that seems to be what they can handle.