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Oct 5, 2008 12:41 PM

Spruce, not impressed

Thursday we ate at Spruce. I had read the reviews. The couple going with us had eaten there a year ago. They sang its praises. The service was very slow and uneven (we are there at 5:30 (maybe 3 other tables occupied) when she listed the specials, at warp speed, she seemed stunned I would ask the price. I guess there if you have to ask you can't afford it. The food was good, but nothing special. Nothing stood out or was any different from a hundred other places.

The menu has not changed in the year since our friends had been there. Our Friends (who had been in the food business for 25 years in SF) were shocked an upscale restaurant wouldn't develope new dishes.

Then they just ticked us off. The manager came to the table and said our AMX card didn't go through. Could we give them another card. We did, and were upset. The next day we called security at AMX (new card because old numbers stolen twice and used, long boring story.)Our card had not been declined. They asked Spruce to call them, then they would have told Spruce we had a fraud alert and they wanted a pix ID. Spruce didn't call. Because they were too lazy to call, and they were not that busy, we get the deadbeat look.

I will be calling to complain this week. Poor busines to make a customers look like a deadbeat.

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  1. Without defending Spruce I would like to give my opinion on what may have happened. As a long-time shop owner I have had several credit cards authorizations requesting a call. The call usually results in the credit card company asking me to confiscate the card. A sympathetic person or a diplomatic person may want to leave these problems for you to solve and not get involved. If my machine had said to call in I would have done the same.
    They could have been lazy, they could have been helping to avoid further embarrassments .

    1 Reply
    1. re: 5am

      Wow, I didn't think of that. I'm glad you called in with that.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Not a lot of spruce postings.

        This is the kind of place I'd come to eat at the bar, if I lived in the neighborhood, and had too much money.

        The burger, and the mussels, are seriously great. It's unclear how they get the burger that juicy and tasty. Maybe they inject it.

        But the soup --- compared to Plum and Manresa's recent soups --- eh, it was pretty good. The duck? Slightly underdone and thus overly chewy, although a very nice taste. Claimed that it was honey basted or something - the skin was good but not great. (I might be a little snooty because I had great duck in a place in shanghai a couple of weeks ago). The best part was the rubarb and sauce under the duck.

        Service was excellent. A nice touch was an extra amuse during my soup when my girlfriend was without food - some kind of fois gras foam.

        Overall - not sure why it has a michelin star, and at $100/pp out the door, a bit of shock. There was a ferarri parked outside the front door when I showed up, and a Audi V10 supercar when I left. I I had that kind of money, I might stop there every week or so. Or maybe not.

        The tables were nicely spread for a very pleasant and cozy affair, and pleasant old-world-ish charm - although it was no Village Pub (in atmosphere or food).

        (no way to add links anymore --- add the name, there's no button to push saying "add". Lovin' it!)

        Manresa Restaurant
        320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

        Village Pub
        2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

        3 Replies
        1. re: bbulkow


          3640 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94118

          2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

            1. re: bbulkow

              Those are both existing records in Restaurants & Bars and did not need to be added to the database, if that's what you meant by adding links. Some restaurant names that are nouns in wide usage have been taken out of autolinking though I don't know which ones exactly. Plum would be a candidate.

        2. It's not an experimental celebrity chef driven place where they're throwing around innovative dishes, but what they do, they typically do well, mostly with subtle nice touches.

          Spruce has also evolved, even if they keep roughly the same menu formula, adding their own house made charcuterie, in house roasted coffee, andnow farming some of their own produce. It shows an awareness of trends while attempting to operate as if they were an institution to the city's dining scene.

          As for the credit card inconvenience, you handed them a credit card which you've had prior issues with. Frustrations aside, Amex is notoriously difficult on vendors, and if that card requires special instructions before it will go through on a big purchase then it perfectly explains why they would have requested you use another card instead.

          Too bad the food wasn't special enough to win you over though. I'm partial to the burger.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sugartoof

            I agree their burgers are special served with a stand of fries one can add mushrooms, grilled onions, avocado or cheese although I like mine without additions. I especially liked the ratio of bun to meat since the buns were adequate to hold the burger together but allowed the meat to shine. I had bought a coupon deal for Scotch and Burgers at Spruce for myself and the family. Served in the bar area only the meal featured three scotch based drinks-can't remember the names- but reminded me of an old fashioned served on ice, the second was a shaken "Manhattan like" cocktail served with an orange twist in a stemmed glass, and after dinner a 1975 single malt scotch. We enjoyed the novelty of the planned drink menu with the burgers. Hats off to both the bar and kitchen.

            1. re: foodseek

              Thinking now this is a Village Pub place, I bet the sweetbreads are great. VP has had exceptional sweetbreads forever.

              I really do think this place shines in several regards: the airy and pleasant dining room, not too loud, lots of space, which is fit for special occasions and the service it provides (more room than VP), the private dining area (a small room for about 8, and the front room for receptions), the bar, with its collections of light and refreshing cocktails as well as the mussels and burgers, and the wine list (tome). The nuts and bolts of individual dishes were good enough to support all the other forgoing goodness, but not enough for an old hound like me to put Spruce on the repeat list, unless I was returning from Marin late afternoon and thought I could sneak in early for mussels.

              sugartoof - I had expected food to be done better than "generally well". I thought my recent meal at Absinthe was better, dish for dish, and absinthe is cheaper and more central. But I generally agree.

              referring to the problem with the credit card mentioned by the OP - it seems like service staff did exactly the right thing. I always prefer to have a card returned than have it confiscated. Especially as you had good reason to turn it into an id theft story.

              Village Pub
              2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062