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Mar 11, 2008 06:10 PM

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.

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  1. Oh dear! Thank you for the extensive review. With a restaurant open less than a year, these are just some of the things that could be their demise, with so many better eateries in the area.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cspolski

          Maybe the powers that be have been reading Chowhound and the 7Days website and have stepped it up a notch! Sounds like a good meal!

          1. re: Addisonchef

            Let's hope so.

            I thought the food was pretty good, it was the service that was terrible and prompted my review.

        2. According to the Burlington Free Press yesterday, Quatre Bistro has locked its doors for good and gone out of business.

          2 Replies
          1. re: signothetimes53

            See above.. Maybe I'm clairvoyant............

            1. re: signothetimes53

              Funny, I thought of this thread when I read that. Somehow, I wasn't surprised....

            2. We've split a digression about storing an open bottle of wine to the Wine board. That topic can be found here: