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Aug 23, 2008 08:26 PM

West Island Restaurants

I've read this board for a long time, but never felt like I had much to say. However, this week I had 3 of the worst restaurant experiences I can remember.

We live in the West Island, where anything above "family-friendly" is pretty hard to come by (love Le Gourmand and Sahib, but other than that...)

Tuesday, went to Madison's with my brother and sister. We were a group of three, under 30. Service was so slow. We could definitely tell that the waiter assumed quite a bit about us right from the get-go and focused his attention on people he assumed were going to spend more.
Food was mediocre at best. The whole place felt like a fancier version of Au Vieux Duluth, right down to the boiled veggies that went with every dish.

Wednesday, my husband and I went to Trattoria Mundo. Since the review in the Gazette, I've been looking forward to trying this place. Again, we were sized up the moment we walked in (my husband is 28, I'm 26). First waiter takes our drink order. Brings drinks and wants to take our food order. We had to ask what the fish and specials were, he didn't feel it was necessary to share that info. He left the table without taking our wine order.
Apps come (served by second waiter; delicious, no complaints) and then a basket of dry - obviously recycled - bread is put on the table (by the bus boy). Bus boy removes wine glasses from table (still no one has asked if we were having wine, which we had planned on doing!)
Meals are served. My husband's osso buco was delicious but my steak (which was presented beautifully) was over-cooked - medium-well when I had requested medium-rare! This is no big deal, when the waiter comes back, I can return it, right? Well the waiter never came back!! Not to offer pepper, not to check on the food... not one of the three people who had been to our table came back over. They were all milling around, serving the regulars very well, but completely ignoring us! I was absolutely flabbergasted. Finally, when my husband's plate was licked clean, second waiter comes back over and asks if things were ok, while removing our plates. I explained that my steak was overcooked which is why I am returning 3/4 of a filet mignon. He didn't apologize or say anything, just cleared the plates. First waiter comes back - again, doesn't apologize, doesn't offer a dessert or even a coffee to make up for it, just asks if we want anything else. We obviously said no (at that point, I was so angry, I was ready to go to Second Cup for dessert and coffee). Second waiter drops the bill - they've reduced the price of my $35 steak to $15. Still no apology, no explanation - nothing! I finally said to the second waiter that we've never had such bad service, what happened. He had a feeble excuse (one waiter was supposed to have the table, he thought the other waiter did...blah blah). We left our money and walked out.
It wasn't busy, the owner was there, working the tables, the groups of businessmen and flashy diners were very well taken care of, but we were not important to them at all. Bottom line, unless you are a regular, don't bother. I've heard the same thing a few times already since Wednesday from other people.

Tonight, we wanted to be outside, so we went to Il Fornetto in Lachine - mediocre food, but we were ready for that. What caught us by surprise was the service, again! No wine order, never checked on the food, didn't offer dessert, dropped the bill and ran away.

I don't understand!!! I worked as a waitress at a nice restaurant. I know how important tipping is. I never tip less than 20%. It is driving me crazy that the general assumption is that we are wasting these servers' time! We are not cheap people by any stretch of the imagination and have no problem spending good money on dinner.

So, can anyone recommend anywhere in the WI for a decent meal, in the $20-$35 range, where the service is not atrocious! Has anyone else had similar experiences at any of these three restaurants?

(Sorry this is long, not sure if I can lump 3 restaurants together like this - if I've done anything wrong, please let me know!)

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  1. I guess I am technically a "regular" at Mundo since I used to go regularly when I worked on the WI. However, they still get it wrong on occassion so that doesn't necessarily help.

    The West Island has been for me generally a restaurant wasteland. It's either chains, or overpriced or similar to what you've described with the profiled service (and Le Gourmand does the same thing by the way).

    Decent meal for $20-35 (for mains) where the service is not atrocious has me thinking elsewhere on the island (e.g. Rosemount).

    1. Jessmil -

      I sympatize with your disappointment in WI restaurants. Aside from some jewels (Bombay Choupati) there is not much worth eating at. Why can't we get a decent BYOW? I was at Portovino last year for a 50th birthday celebration; what horrible food/service. And expensive to boot!

      The West Island has the income base to support high-end restos. But, perhaps we don't have the demographic? That's why we get family restaurants.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JedZ

        I also sympathize with your dilemma; one small gem for us is le Bocage, used to be called les 3 soeurs, it's on Beaconsfield blvd, one street east of Woodland. A varied menu with a french flair, good service, mid priced.

        For italian, we go to Mezzagiorno, in a strip mall, off st charles, near Brunswick; plain italian fare, nothing innovative but it does the job.

        For home made burgers and fries, we go to Homestyle, on Beaconsfield blvd also, 2 streets east of Woodland.

        We love le Gourmand, their terrace is hard to beat; we've never had any service problems there. In Ste Anne de Bellevue, Chalet Thai is still the best thai , in my opinion, nothing downtown competes with it.

        We have not been to 40 West, I equate it to Queue de Cheval so I'll pass.

      2. True, it is tough to find a good place on the West Island. Among my favorites: Shahi Palace for Indian/Pakistani, Sahib for Indian, Le Gourmand for a special Occasion, Chalet Thai for a local fix of Thai, Aikawa for Sushi. I am not a big fan of soup in general, but I go nutty for the Bankok soup at Souvenir Thai - a Vaudreuil BYOB.

        In terms of BYOB, the WI is picking up in variety. Vavaldi is a decent BYOB and the food has always been quite good albeit not particularly memorable. Also, I recently noticed that Tokyo is now a BYOB.

        On my "to try" list: Le Bocage, Navia, Bombay Choupati.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Andria

          I strongly urge you to check out Shalimar also on Sources for excellent Pakistani/Indian. You won't be disappointed.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I've enjoyed Carmine's, which is relatively new in the W.I. I've been there for brunch a few times and for dinner once. Food is quite good, service is excellent if you're being served by Bachir, who happens to be an efficient and friendly waiter. We had one bad experience with another server, so now we just ask to be seated in Bachir's section. Even during a very busy Sunday brunch, he managed to be wonderfully efficient. Brunch is great (the Italian stratta with fresh spinach, mushrooms and sausage etc. is super), their pasta dishes and salads are good too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: morebubbles

              Oh my, the service was horrible went I went with my wife and her parents last summer (Trator Mund). I chalked it up to a bad day but I guess not. Different waiters were coming by, we had to ask for drinks as opposed to being offered, waiters would walk away in mid order. Could never get their attention and they never checked up on us.