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"We're done here" - the mid-meal departure [Moved from Texas Board]

ErinTulane Jan 13, 2008 05:39 AM

We ate - or rather tried to eat - at a very well regarded local restaurant last night. We had heard that it was fantastic and were looking forward to a great meal. That never happened - everything went wrong with our experience.

This was the poorest service we have ever had in five years of eating out - entirely too much - together.

From the 20 minute wait at the bar for even a greeting (there were only 10 people at the bar, there were empty bar stools), to being asked to move, to the bad table where we were sat (dim drafty corner out of view of the main room staring at a door), to running out of certain dishes, to the entrees that arrived so long after our app they were cold, little went right with our visit. When the waiter offered to re-heat (and thereby overcook) my husband's lamb shank, (they were out of the braised osso bucco) he responded with "thanks, but I think we're done here." The highlight of our experience was the manner in which our waiter handled our departure.

This was a first for us and hopefully an only - we are not complainers and frankly we are not picky - but we left mid-meal. The only other time I have done that in my life was in New Orleans and involved a cockroach.

It was almost 10 when we left and we sought out a place we were certain would still serve us. On that criteria we chose Toulouse. I know Toulouse is much maligned on this board but let me tell you, from the always warm greeting at the door which involved a kiss on each cheek, our meal was friendly, prompt and properly prepared. It was a welcome change.

Everyone has a bad day at the office and the restaurant's reputation is likely built on the back of the house. Maybe this one of those freak instances of all of the bad things happening to one set of customers.

But I am curious, has anyone else on this board left a restaurant mid-meal? Tell us your story.

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  1. iluvtennis RE: ErinTulane Jan 13, 2008 06:38 AM

    No, i've never left a restaurant mid-meal. Why won't you name this restaurant?

    1 Reply
    1. re: iluvtennis
      e
      Epicurious Esquire RE: iluvtennis Jan 13, 2008 08:47 AM

      It is impolite to tease us so. Pray tell the name of the restaurant.

    2. c
      chow_gal RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 07:40 AM

      Did you ask for a check for what you'd already eaten?

      1 Reply
      1. re: chow_gal
        d
        dolores RE: chow_gal Jan 14, 2008 09:46 AM

        I and hubby left a restaurant mid-meal, both due to verrry bad service and lack of anything we wanted on the menu. Perhaps I was also having a bad day, I can't remember, but I do remember the manager/owner coming out and she wasn't too upset at there being nothing acceptable for us.

        What is notable is that the service was SOO bad that I wanted hubby to leave no tip but he insisted. Well, the bill was perhaps $16. for what we had up to that point (this was a looong time ago) and he left a two dollar tip.

        Problem was, he put a $ sign in front of the two and...you guessed it, the bank gave the restaurant a TWELVE dollar tip!

        After I reattached my head to my shoulders, I worked it all out. The restaurant, I am happy to report, has closed.

      2. m
        mikefoody RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 12:30 PM

        My fiance and I have done it.

        It was about a year ago at a new Italianish place near Highland Village in Houston. It was dead empty so we probably should have known better, but it's right by where we live so we thought "what the heck." Nothing on the menu excited us and after a bad appetizer and terrible service (when we were literally the only couple in the place ...), we bolted.

        1. Miss Needle RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 12:48 PM

          Not mid-meal, but by ex-bf who was very fastidious insisted on leaving when he found a hair in the appetizer. Personally I thought his behavior was hasty, especially as the owner was humbly apologizing.

          1. iluvtennis RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 02:13 PM

            I think it would have to be something REALLY extreme for me to leave mid-meal...if it's that bad, i just pay up and don't go back. I have a friend that once ordered some pasta, said it was awful, and wanted to leave right then. My food was fine as was the service. My friend then proceeded to eat more than half the food on her plate, and after she was done, refused to pay! I was soooo embarrassed. That's just not me.

            1. jfood RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 04:19 PM

              Late into Boston one night jfood wondered over to a steak house for a meal. Seated at a table and ordered the smoked salmon for an app and the PH med-rare and onion rings for entree. Salmon was brought, eaten, very good. Then the steak arrived and it was wel-well done. Jfood called the server over who took one look and brought the manager over. He looked at it and ran to the kitchen. Back in a couple of minutes he told me he was hoping there was one already available abut it would take at least 20 minutes to prepare. Jfood, looked at his watch and said, it's getting late, can you just bring the bill for the salmon. The MOD brought the check presenter himself and when jfood opened it, there was his card and a bill for $0.

              Needless to say the next time the steak was perfect.

              1. capeanne RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 05:19 PM

                Yes we did and in Paris at a very highly Board recommended resto...an excerpt from a post last year " Wednesday was the long awaited La Os Moelle …a relatively long cab ride but I was sure that we would be well rewarded….not us …a bad night .They apparently had multiple staff sick calls . The room was chock full of patrons ( like 50) and there were again 2 waitstaff ,…. a runner and a waitperson. We had 3 courses all of which were delicious But we were there for 90 minutes and hadn’t gotten past the amuse , soup and starter ..and we had finished a bottle of wine and feared for our ability to give a cab driver our return address. So we paid our tab in full being very polite and feeling very bad for patrons and staff alike and went across the street to the Cave where we enjoyed a sidewalk table ( the weather was grand ) and cheese . We would give it another try..We also suspect there was some conspiracy ongoing as it was school vacation week in Paris and perhaps people who work in restos like to spend time with their Kids on vaca so okay…they call in sick . " stuff happens

                1. podunkboy RE: ErinTulane Jan 14, 2008 06:55 PM

                  I only considered it once, when we were enjoying our meal, and a woman of large carriage at the table next to us leaned forward and broke wind RIGHT AT US. She didn't even stop shoveling food into her mouth while she did it.
                  But it wasn't the restaurant's fault or the server's fault, and I was really hungry, so we just waited for the air to clear and resumed eating.
                  I have walked out several times before being served, when the wait staff just left us waiting at a table without a menu, an offer of a drink, or a rational explanation.

                  1. c
                    currymouth RE: ErinTulane Jan 15, 2008 04:54 AM

                    My wife was craving wok fried flounder and we could not even get into the parking lot of our favorite chinese establishment. so we tried one we had never been to before, There were only 6 tables occupied out of 20, which should have been a tipoff, but they were featuring flounder on their specials board.We were seated promptly and ordered the flounder, fried rice, steamed bokchoy with oystersauce and salt and pepper pork chops. The rice came first and it was yesterday's, hard as bb,s and oversalted, just then the table next to us seating a family of 6 exploded . "This food is inedable, I'ts cold , salty, and I can't feed my family this slop" The manager proceeded to throw the family out. Now what are we still doing there? you might ask. The flounder arrived as well as the bokchoy at that very moment, only the fish was swimming in grease and the bokchoy had morphed into napa cabbage, "I did not order this, i wanted the bokchoy with oyster sauce". "This is bokchoy" the waiter replied. Table 2 exploded and proceeded to leave. That was it for me. I paid the bill and left a nickle tip along with a note on the reciept. " This is the worst food I have ever been served. do us a favour and close you'r doors. They obliged 3 weeks later.

                    1. h
                      harrison RE: ErinTulane Jan 15, 2008 09:16 AM

                      i was at a local coffee shop here in nyc with a friend. we both ordered burgers. we were enjoying our beverages and the pickles/cole slaw on the table when the burgers arrived. my friend reached for the ketchup and found a large roach staring at him from inside the bottle. he put the ketchup down, got up and walked out telling me i could do what i want, but he was done. i calmly pointed out the offensive guest at our table, and had them pack mine up to go.

                      needless to say, i made sure there were plenty of sealed heinz packets in the bag

                      1. ArikaDawn RE: ErinTulane Jan 16, 2008 05:57 AM

                        I have never left a restaurant mid-meal. I am lucky though as I have never had any of these horrible experiences, extremely bad service, roaches, truly inedible food, etc. I wouldn't hesitate to leave a restaurant under almost any of these circumstances though. I am not picky, but there are certain expectations that should always be met when dining out. A few times I have left a restaurant after being seated when I found nothing on the menu appealing. It was a bit awkward as we'd already been given water and moved things on the table, but we still tipped and left.

                        1. Scrapironchef RE: ErinTulane Jan 16, 2008 03:41 PM

                          Once at an Indian resto and Margarita bar (It's on the sign, I couldn't make it up) wifey and I stopped for an early dinner. We were early enough to be the only ones there for dinner, and were seated at a deuce in the middle of the floor. I asked if we could have a booth instead and was politlely told no by the waitron. We then ordered the house specialty mango margys and were told, sorry, no, nobody here can make them. We ordered appetizers instead and were told again, sorry, no, we're out of them.

                          Wifey and I agree that when you get told no three times in a row by a resto it's time to leave. So we did.

                          1. p
                            Panini Guy RE: ErinTulane Jan 16, 2008 05:20 PM

                            Twice. First time was just south of Carmel. I have no idea what we ordered for food, but we chose a red that I knew should be decent bottle. The waiter poured for us and when I tasted the wine it was hot. I mean, hotter than body temp - over 100F. It was so hot that there seemed no point to actually discern what the wine was giving up. We could not enjoy it. The waiter was incredulous that we would complain about this bottle and started to make a scene - "This wine should not be served cold, would you like me to bring you a cold wine?." (duh... it shouldn't be as warm as my cappuccino, either. ) "Would you like me to bring an ice bucket out for your red wine?" Other patrons were looking at us by then. The guy was obviously trying to embarrass us, so I simply looked at my wife, nodded and we excused ourselves.

                            The second was proof you can get bad service in Italy and it's now a funny story my wife loves to tell. It was a Sunday afternoon in Bologna - and those who've been there know the problem: There isn't much to be had for dining on Sunday afternoon in Bologna as most places don't open until 6pm. But we needed to catch a train and tried to eat earlier.

                            We found a place near the train station. It appeared OK, although there was but one customer inside. We ordered, and our young waiter, after some issues actually understanding our orders, came over with the wine glasses, stubbing his toe on the table, spilling the wine onto my wife's (thankfully) black pants and dropping one glass on the floor, breaking it. Accidents happen, not that big a deal. He got a towel for my wife and began picking up the glass from the floor. He comes back with the primi, puts a plate down in front of my wife and there's blood on the rim from where he cut himself picking up the glass. He wiped off the blood, figuring that would be OK. It wasn't, obviously.

                            Apparently this place has no Band-Aids because all he could do was wrap a towel around his cut and he kept bleeding through it and onto the replacement wine glass, which he wiped off with a clean part of the towel/bandage He offered to take away the primi and get something else and we said "No thanks." The manager came over to see what was wrong and seeing no blood assumed we were just stupid Americans and wanted to know why we were insulting his food.

                            We left at that point, but we did pay for the primi and wine and actually left the waiter a fair tip so he could buy some gauze pads and tape.

                            1. c
                              charlottecooks RE: ErinTulane Jan 18, 2008 07:31 PM

                              On a long ago business trip in Pittsburgh, my co-worker had researched a restaurant she wanted to try. I well trusted her food picks and agreed. the place had no menu posted outside, she said the menu looks great online, I say- ok. We walk in, the place is e-m-p-t-y and covered in fake foliage, mirrors and white Christmas lights,a true accomplishment in the world of tack. Woman greets us and asks us if we have a reservation, we say no, she looks at us as if to say, "well, you've got some nerve," and says she'll see if she might possibly be able to find us a table. Hmmmm. After nearly 5 minutes of her deciding which of the empty tables would be best, we are seated and order 2 drinks. Drinks (martini and wine) take nearly 10 minutes to get- in an EMPTY place. We get drinks, 10 more minutes pass and still no menu! By now, my head is swimming in red flags and is telling me to get out at all costs. About when I was deciding how to do this, menu finally arrives and the server feels the need to talk us through each one, saying in an extremely pompus manner "this is what you will be having tonight." Well, I've got news for her, no one, I mean no one, tells me what to eat. Anyway, after reading/hearing about 7 items, which all consisted of cuts of meats smothered in any white based sauce. I said to myself, I would rather be hungry than eat this s***. One item was a black forest tenderloin, stuffed with nice canned cherries and coated in bechamel, appetizing, eh, for the reasonable price of 30 bucks. At that point, with no consult to my dear friend, I pull out my card and kindly ask to settle and leave. The woman was pissed and to add to the hilarity of it all, my friend asked her to call us a cab. Place is still empty by the way. Anyway, we left and collapsed with laughter. Somehow, the experience was just hilarious-once we escaped. Turns out the place she researched, was in Philly, but had the same name.

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