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Oct 28, 2007 02:13 PM

ik at al di la

I really mean "ick," but couldn't resist the totally two-letter word subject line.

Anyway, as a huge fan of Al Di La, though I only go every six months or so, I was stunned to have a mediocre dinner there last night. The roasted monkfish was tough and seemed more steamed than roasted, it came with some greens in a sauce that smelled and tasted like day-old fish. The focaccia that came with one of the salads had berries in it, which sounded interesting but just seemed odd in the end, and the beloved beet ravioli were kind of dry (and it seemed like the serving size had shrunk, but maybe not). Anyway, I guess we just ordered wrong (except the ravioli, which are usually great, so there's no explanation), but it was pretty sad. Was anyone else there last night? Was it as good as usual? Could the problem have been that we were there super-early?

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  1. Would have said something to your server...I bet they would have offered to take it back and replace it with something more agreeable.

    2 Replies
    1. re: famdoc

      It wasn't that level of bad. And it actually didn't dawn on me that I didn't like it until I'd eaten quite a bit. Just disappointing.

      1. re: gnosh

        I've had mediocre meals there. I've also had them at my other favorite places (Henry's End, Tempo, Chestnut, Queen, Luger's). We go often enough to be disappointed but just toss it off. I hate the feeling afterwards but I dont think it can be helped. No place is on its game all the time.

    2. gnosh
      When there are that many things wrong with one meal, you are probably batting cleanup from the day, or several day, before. The most alarming thing you mentioned was that one dish "smelled and tasted like day old fish" That is really unexcusable.
      I don't think you, "ordered wrong" I think they served you a sub par meal. I agree with famdoc: If nothing else, you really should have sent the fish back with an explaination as to why. And while I also agree with Steve R that all restaurants have 'off' nights, no one should accept a dish made with less than fresh, ingredients

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tay

        Maybe I'm luckier than you guys, but I've never been disappointed, nor been served any sub-par meal at Al di La and I go four times a year. Just wish Anna would bring back her salt-crusted fish!

      2. We have never had a meal at Al Di La that has not been just mediocre. We have always been there in a group of four people, and we all agreed about that.

        In my opinion, ordering wrong is one thing and getting day-old fish is a totally different thing...totally inexcusable & disgusting.
        I would have said something.

        8 Replies
        1. re: FoodWine

          Just to be clear, I'm not saying the fish was old (although it didn't seem absolutely new), just that the sauce the greens were served in, which I guess was some kind of fish reduction, was unpleasantly fishy--really unpalatable. But even so, I was not feeling confrontational enough to bring it up. I was kind of drunk, hanging out w/a friend, and unless the food had been undeniably bad I was not in a state to want to make a scene.

          1. re: gnosh

            "unpleasantly fishy--really unpalatable".

            Yikes, that sounds really disgusting. Whether you were sober or "kind of drunk" - or even a lot drunk.
            I have such a low tolerance for bad fish or a fishy smell or taste, that I would have complained, whether I felt drunk or not.
            It is an interesting dilemma, not to speak up because one feels drunk. When you think about it: the restaurant served you that wine (or whatever you had) in the first place... and was more than happy to take your money for it...

            1. re: gnosh

              could it have had some kind of anchovy dressing? some italian greens (chicory etc) can have anchovies in the mix.If you dont like that or arent prepared for the taste it might not be please.

              1. re: jen kalb

                I cannot speak for anybody else, but IMO anchovies have such a distinct flavor that it is hard not to recognize that flavor immediately. And even though anchovies have a strong taste, they do not taste fishy in a bad way.

                1. re: FoodWine

                  This thread has outlived its usefulness. A participant had a disappointing meal at Al di La. He later stated that his taste might have been altered by the amount of wine in his system. Others have commented on the sense of taste under the influence of alcohol. Others have speculated on what may have affected the flavor of his fish. Several postings were redacted by the Chowhound gods, I guess because they had more to do with alcoholic excess than with the quality of Al di La's food. Several other contributors stated that they have never been disappointed in the food at Al di La. Let's move on....

                  1. re: famdoc

                    You have clearly stated that you are an Al Di La fan, and now you are declaring that any further commenting on the matter, or criticizing Al Di La has "outlived its usefulness". Very interesting.

                    First: Gnosh did not say that his taste might have been altered. This is your interpretation.
                    Gnosh wrote that he did not feel "confrontational" or in "state to want to make a scene" -because he was "kind of drunk".

                    Second: More than one person in this thread expressed that they have not always been happy with their meals at Al Di La. Yet, you state that one ("A participant") was disappointed with a meal.

                    From the very beginning my husband and I (and several friends that have accompanied us on different occasions) have been very disappointed with Al Di La. Because of the positive reviews, at first we did not want to believe our negative experiences (of disappointing meals) there, so we came back, many times. The experiences varied from so-so meals to being grossed out (way too greasy) and feelings of queasiness after. And no, we were not drunk. See, we did not feel like ordering more than one bottle of wine for 4 people, since we just were not happy enough with the food -or the wine list.
                    After one dinner, my husband was so grossed out that he had to go into a grocery store to buy mints to get the taste and feeling of the dinner out of his mouth.

                    You say:"Several postings were redacted by the Chowhound gods, I guess because they had more to do with alcoholic excess than with the quality of Al Di La's food."
                    Again, I guess, your effort to try to nullify a negative opinion about Al Di La. (Tying it together with "alcoholic excess", as you put it). (I wonder how you would have reacted if "gnosh's" review had been glowing.)
                    As far as I saw, the majority of the removed posts suggested (just like you do now) that "gnosh's" experience could not have been accurate, since he said he had been "kind of" drunk. As far as I saw my post was the only one telling about one time excess, and using it as an example of how that excess did not affect my taste buds at all.

                2. re: jen kalb

                  as a matter of fact, my favorite side dish at al di la is the grilled chard stems, which come in anchovy butter. Sometimes they sub a different green, but it's the anchovy butter that makes it sing.

                  1. re: pitu

                    I bet it was the anchovy, as you and Jen Kalb suggest. I found it repulsive, but I'm glad it tastes good to somebody...

            2. I am as big an Al Di La fan as they come. No lie. However, I have had some whopping bad meal there too. Having said that, it also must be understood that the ratio is about 30 to 1. For this reason I cannot hold it against them, and I keep coming back.

              One time a pork chop was so inedible and grisley that it could not be negotiated at all. By the time I realized just how bad it was I had eaten too much to send it back.

              It sucks when this happens, but if you feel about the place the way I do the good certainly far surpasses the bad. I have also found that I have had very few (if no) so-so meals. It is either the agony or the ecstasy with that place. Lucky for me I almost always come out blissed.