Quatre Bistro, Burlington VT
My wife and I endured a dreadful lunch at Quatre on Friday, March 7. The food was good, but the service was about as amateurish, thoughtless, inconsiderate and inept as we perhaps have ever experienced.
We arrived at 1:15, and Quatre was not busy, most of the tiny handful of customers were nearly finished lunch.
We were presented menus but no wine list, and we waited a solid 5 minutes before finally catching the eye of the waiter and asking for one.
Our waiter was working with someone from the kitchen to set tables for the evening dinner. Apparently, this was more important than timely service to current seated customers like us, and it was more important than checking with us to see if we had everything we needed.
Even worse, this time for table set-up 5 hours before the dinner service was apparently a delightful opportunity for our waiter and a member of the kitchen staff to carry on a loud conversation IN THE DINING ROOM about their most recent 'mix' CDRs they had created.
Honestly, I thought restaurant dining rooms were for the comfort of the diners, rather than the tacky amusement of the employees, but apparently I'm being very selfish on a point like that.
As a result, I had to ask for a water re-fill. I had to ask for a second glass of wine.
The wine I ordered, a Cotes du Rhone, tasted 'off', but I drank it anyway. Shame on me.
But I knew I didn't want to repeat that particular wine. I complained to the waiter about the wine, and he shrugged his shoulders and told me that the bar was not his responsibility, that I'd have to talk to the bartender. I told him that he was our waiter and should ultimately take responsibility for everything he served us. The waiter looked away and did not respond.
I asked the bartender what other French wines he had that had been opened today, he said: none...and he admitted that my Cotes du Rhone had been opened two days earlier. No wonder it tasted 'off'.
I asked the bartender if professionally-run restaurants always serve up wine that tastes 'off' and had been opened two days earlier. The bartender mumbled something to the effect that 'we don't do a lot of volume with those wines' as an excuse for serving them. I asked him if Quatre would serve vegetables to their guests that were compromised in quality, two days past their prime, simply because they don't do a lot of volume...and he admitted they wouldn't, but that wine was different and generally would 'keep' that length of time. I decided to skip the second glass of wine.
At the conclusion of our meal, we were presented with the bill, and the wine was deducted from the bill, though our waiter couldn't even bother to tell us that had been done. I told the waiter and the bartender that I refused to take anything free from Quatre. I drank the wine, in spite of its bad taste, and I should pay for it. So I did.
A word to the owner and/or manager: consider training your bartender on the proper care and serving of wine. And consider offering elementary training to your waitstaff. And kindly suggest to them that the dining room is not the appropriate place to regale your dining guests with conversation with co-workers...your paying guests expect better.
This morning's Burlington Free Press (June 29) sports an advertisement for Quatre, to my surprise, which means the place has reopened. Their website is back on-line, too, though it simply has a message that says they are making changes to the restaurant and the menu, and to check back soon.
Even more surprising, perhaps even bizarre, is that the ad today in the Free Press is headlined "Not Just Pub Grub"...shows a full glass of beer...and then touts they'll be showing the "UFC Fight" for a $10 cover, which includes "Free Wings All Day" and $2.50 drafts.
Apparently, we go from tres chic neo-French cuisine, to cheap beer, all the wings you can eat, and the barbaric entertainment spectacle of the Ultimate Fighting Challenge. And yet they keep the name Quatre?!? How strange is that?
I'm guessing they are keeping the name because of the hassle of getting a new liquor license under a different name....if that ISN'T the reason, I'm struggling to envision your typical wings-beer-and-a-fight-on-the-tube bar patron trying even to pronounce "Quatre", much less go there. I'm betting the customers take to calling it "Quarter"...LOL!
I would definitely give them another try. I read these reviews but still decided to try Quatre this past Saturday night, 3/29/2008 with my husband. We had a gift certificate to use. We had reservations for 6pm, which we didn't need - we like to eat early and apparently most people coming to Quatre eat at 7 and later. We were VERY well attended to by a lovely waitress who worked very hard to find a wine that we wanted that was not on the current list. My husband ordered the crab tart special and raved about it. The chef sent out shrimp and mango sorbet samplers that were really good. I had the rack of lamb for dinner that came with kale and mashed potatoes - it was all very good and perfectly cooked. My husband had a halibut special and he enjoyed that as well. We split a carrot cake and ice cream for dessert and we both thought it was one of the best meals out we'd had in a long time. It was our first time there - we went only because of the gift certificate, but we would definitely return.
I have yet to here a positive word about that place. There are many other options so I wouldn't be surprised to see the "For Rent" sign posted soon.
Give the new Sadie Katz's deli a try (the Former Oasis Diner). Nicely done NY Deli menu (and fun watching employees "forced" to wear NY Yankee hast as part of the ambiance). The pastrami is solid and served on a very good rye. At $8.50 with a side and pickles, it is a fairly priced sandwich and is a unique option in Burlington.