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Mar 10, 2008 02:24 PM

My B&B Nightmare

I wasn't originally going to post anything but I've thought about it and am going to recount my experience.

Had dinner at B&B last Tuesday ( 2/26 ) and it was BY FAR the worst meal/experience I've ever had in Las Vegas.

My buddy and I were originally going to try someplace else. I moved away from Vegas this past June and was bummed that I never got to dine there so we decided to give it a go. Needless to say I was really excited about it especially after having checked out the menu online. Everything sounded fantastic.

We arrived a few minute late for the reservation but were seated promptly.

The server came by and we both ordered glasses of white wine - DIFFERENT whites, mind you. Important detail for later. He came back with both bottles, two carafes, and two wine glasses. He sat the glasses and carafes down and began to pour my buddy's glass. We both could obviously see that it was the last of the bottle and he was able to pour about 3 ounces of wine into the carafe. He then poured it from the carafe into the glass. He then poured my glass of wine - a proper pour of 6-6/12 ounces of wine. Poured it into the carafe and then half of it into my glass. The server then proceeded to leave the table - without saying anything else. My buddy looked at me funny and I told him not to even stress about it that I was 100% positive that the he went to get another bottle of wine to finish the pour. The server then came back after a few minutes, sans any wine, and asked if we were ready to order. We were sort of surprised but ordered anyway. We ordered three courses - an app course, pasta course, and main entree each. The server left and again my buddy looked at me with this dumbfounded look. I again assured him that the server would be coming back to attend to the lackluster glass. Several minutes pass. My friend has now finished the 1/2 glass of wine and the first course arrives. The server comes back after a few more minutes and asked how everything was. My friend asks him if he could "get a little more of the white". "Absolutely". He came back a few minutes later and proceeded to pour him a full 6-6/12 ounce glass of his white. Interesting. Later inspection of the bill would show that he was charged for two glasses of wine. That in itself would'nt have been such a bad thing but we were just getting started.

The first course was okay. Nothing Earth-shattering. I had the Three Goat Cheese Truffles with Peperonata ( boring, I know - but I'm a HUGE sucker for anything goat cheese ... ) and my friend had the Crispy Pork Trotter. The truffles were dusted with three different powders ( fennel seed, paprika I think, and another that I don't remember ). They were absolutely huge which is rarely a bad thing, but that was just way too much goat cheese - especially as an app. A week and a half later and, to be honest, I can't remember much else about it other than it was a plate of goat cheese. The trotter was good but the couple bites I had both contained some cartilage which is to be expected but I thought it would be minimal in such an "upscale" place.

Meanwhile the server had come back and I had ordered another glass of my white wine which he brought to me a few minutes later. My buddy had poured the last of his white from the carafe to his glass and the carafe was removed from the table leaving both of our glasses and my carafe with a little white left in it. At this point we also asked if we could add the Roasted Root Vegetables to our main course. "Absolutely". It would prove to be one of the last times we ever saw our server.

The sommelier then comes by a few minutes later. THE SOMMELIER. She doesn't say a word to either of us but gives us a big smile. She picks up my carafe, pours about half of it into my glass ... and then the rest into my friend's glass. She again smiles and departs without saying anything. We looked at each other in complete awe. We absolutely could not believe it. My buddy was now drinking an Italian white meritage - house blend, if you will.

The pasta course came a few minutes later. This was the highlight of the meal but that's not saying much. We had the Beef Cheek Ravioli with Black Truffles and Crushed Duck Liver, the Black Pepper Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, and the Sweet Potato "Lune" to share in the middle. All the pastas were absolutely spot on. I really can't pick a favorite as they were all really tasty. We finished everything and the plates were cleared.

We are not speed eaters, mind you. He and I are both foodies and we take our time when we eat. We taste everything and discuss the flavors or lack thereof. My point being that we hadn't seen any service since the last course. No wait, I take that back. We did see him standing over by the service station looking incredibly bored.

A few minutes after we were finished the server comes by to check on us - we haven't seen him since the FIRST wine debacle. We ordered a couple glasses of red for dinner.

Dinner arrived. My friend ordered the Fennel Dusted Sweetbreads with Sweet & Sour Onions, Duck Bacon, and Membrillo Vinegar. I had ordered the Grilled Pork Chop with Seckel Pear, Cipolline Onion, and Vin Cotto.

A couple things to know about me:

- I love pork and will always order it on any menu with any preparation.
- I've had my share of pork in my lifetime and I know how it should look and taste - all cuts.

So yes, the pork chop was another less-than-adventurous choice by me but served with seckel pear and cipolline onions - pfffbbtt ... c'mon. How can I pass THAT up? Short story - absolutely horrible. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest but that chop was about 80% fat. Completely inedible. I also could've lived with this ( hey I'm in the business, have been for a long time, and I know that things can go wrong ), but I didn't get the opportunity to send it back for a new one since the server never showed his face. I was only able to get two bites out of it before I gave up and was completely irritated. I didn't get a chance to try the sweetbreads - I was too busy butchering the chop - but I heard that they were mediocre at best. Again someone came by to clear our plates and I asked him to show the chef my piece of pork. That's it. That's all I said. I'm *SURE* it was taken with a grain of salt. Add insult to injury - our Roasted Root Vegetables were nowhere to found. Completely forgotten about and never mentioned.

Time to order dessert. Our *cough* "attentive" server comes over and we order the Bomboloni, the Sbrisolona, and an order of Gelato for the middle so that we could taste it. At this point I'm pretty much seeing red so I don't remember a lot of details about dessert except for these two things:

1.) Our server came back PROMPTLY after taking the dessert order to inform us that he was going home and that another server would be seeing us through the rest of the meal. Now, I don't know about anyone else - but I come from the school of thought that, as a server, if you start a table - you finish the table. Period. End of discussion. I know that handing off happens frequently but that doesn't make it right in my book. I think it's bush league and a shows a true lack of caring. Anyway ...

2.) We had each finished our desserts - again, I don't remember much about them. What does that tell you? We were working on the gelato. We had each had a bite or two and were going to finish it while talking about the dinner. Well we had to forget that idea as someone came by, cleared our empty dessert plates, TOOK ALL OF OUR FLATWARE, but thoughtfully left the gelato, that we were planning to finish, there for us to - I suppose - eat with our hands.

Our new server then comes over for the first time and asks us if we needed anything else. We just asked for the check.

Neither of us EVER complain in restaurants because, as I said, we're both in the biz and it's just not in either of our styles to complain. We usually will just pay the bill, leave, and never return. I'm not advocating that approach but that's just how we are.

The bill came and neither of us could hold it in any longer. We asked for the manager and proceeded to give him an earful. I've touched on most of the service/food points here but there were other little things as well like removing bread plates before we were done, having to ask to refill our bottled water, etc. Little stuff that usually isn't a huge deal but is magnified after an experience like this one.

Long story, short ( too late ) - I straight up told the manager how much I was looking forward to dining at B&B and that after this experience that I would never be back. My buddy, who still lives in Vegas, eased up and told him that he would probably try it again at some point. But for me - not living there anymore, I don't have the opportunity to try as many places all the time like I used to. No reason for me to ever go back.

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  1. Just curious..what was the manager's reaction?

    1 Reply
    1. re: arizonagirl

      He was shocked to say the least. We let into him for a good while. When we got to the point that we decided to talk to the manager we both agreed that we weren't going to sugar-coat anything. We probably talked to him for a total of 15-20 minutes. We told him up front, before saying anything about the dinner, that we wanted to pay for everything despite what we were about to unleash. He seemed like he cared a little but not to the degree that what we were telling him warranted. We told him that we were both in the business, had worked for top-name chefs and restaurants, and that it wasn't about the money. The issues NEEDED to be addressed. Our bill for both of us was about $325 or so before we spoke to him. He ended up taking a little over $100 off the bill. He argued that we shouldn't have to pay for anything that we didn't receive or that wasn't up to standard. If that was truly the case, then we really shouldn't have paid for anything but the pastas and, at that point, what's the difference between that and comping the whole check.

      But that wasn't the point at all. The point was that our experience wasn't even bad, it was atrocious. I would have much rather paid for everything we ordered and received ( and didn't receive ), knowing that I was never coming back and that there would be some bad press. Really bad press. I'm not going to go into detail but I know A LOT of people in Vegas and everyone will hear about this experience. That alone won't be even a drop in the bucket as far as B&B is concerned, but it will put a small dent in their bottom line - not to mention all the recs that they won't be getting.

    2. So, what did the manager SAY?

      1. I too am waiting with bated breath to hear what the manager said. But, I think you were far too patient in waiting until the end to ask for a manager. I would've said something to your server right when your friend didn't get the rest of his carafe, and if the server wasn't around or didn't remedy the situation, then I would've asked for a manager at that point. I have a short fuse when it comes to service issues like you detail, so I try to handle things politely yet firmly. BTW I've eaten at B&B twice and enjoyed it both times, no major service gaffes either time.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Debbie W

          Yeah, we're pretty patient people. For both of us being in the industry so long we have both had our share of bad meals but this just keep spiraling downward. We finally reached our boiling point after the dessert fiasco.

          My buddy told me that if we did get the manager over there that I shouldn't hold anything back - I was a little more irritated than he considering that I had been looking forward to the meal for so long. Well, I didn't hold anything back. I told him exactly how I felt which was pretty angry at that point.

          I *NEVER* get like that in a restaurant. It's way out of character for me but I was completely appalled at what had transpired that night.

          1. re: azbirdiemaker

            What is it about B & B? From reading posts on this site and others about it, people seem to either love the great food and attentive service or hate it never wanting to return. There's not a whole lot of middle-ground here. To be honest, the polarized views of B & B make me want to try it even more. I have a reservation this Monday. I'll let you know how it goes.

            1. re: climberdoc

              Good luck! What was your eventual decision on Bartolotta?

              1. re: Debbie W

                Hi Debbie W
                We decided not to put Bartolotta on the list for this trip (3/16-3/20).
                We will be there in June and it will be on top of our list then.
                Plans for this trip are:
                dinner #1-Alex (tasting menu)-had it multiple times and it never disappoints
                dinner#2-B&B we'll see for ourselves
                dinner#3-Okada I'm excited to try the omakase menu
                dinner#4-still undecided but we have a reservation at SW Steakhouse.
                If you're wondering why so many Wynn Restys, it's because we are staying there.

              2. re: climberdoc

                I was discussing this thread tonight and I realized that I never saw your B&B review. Perhaps I missed it. Did you go? Thoughts?

                You seem to disagree with a lot of what I post. I was wondering what you thought of your experience with B&B.

          2. My god. Scary! THANK YOU for posting this. I have been debating where to host our eight friends going to LV with us for my 50th birthday dinner. Every time I chose a place - I read another nightmare story and change my mind. I finally had settled on B&B mostly because of our good experiences in NYC at his restaurants. I really wasn't thrilled by the menu here - but wanted it to be special. However, after reading this I am back on the hunt. It would be MY worst nightmare to have this kind of experience on my birthday with four couples!

            3 Replies
            1. re: shellie

              There are just as many posts about B&B which would be the polar opposite of this review. Makes me think that I need to try it for myself. I agree with shellie that it may be risky to have a special occasion dinner there.

              1. re: climberdoc

                It interesting to note that both the food and the service sucked.