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HUGE disappointment at Fromogerie

Last night, my husband and I wnet for dinner at Fromogerie (in Rumson, for those who don't know). We have not been there in quite some time, and now I know why. First off, service is way too fast and rush rush. The minute we were seated, I did not even have the napkin on my lap, the popovers were served. Then the waiter was there instantly to take our cocktail order. (I seriously think someone needs to tell the wait staff, for men, do not wear ridiculous huge earrings...our waiter had a huge zirconia stud in his ear...I could not stop staring at the thing, plus his cologne was overkill.)

We got our drinks, then someone else was there ready to tkae the popover pans, and we were not even done! After that, the amuse came...all in a matter of 10 minutes.

We sat for a while before looking at the menu. We both laughed when we heard "Pink Floyd" palying on the surround sound. Where were we?? Anyhow, I had the red snapper, it came out in about 10 minutes after ordering. My husband had the scallops. I won't even go into the food because it was just o.k. Nothing amazing at all. My 6 year old nephew probably could have created better dishes than what we had. Plus, the plates were cold, not even hot.

The waiter was obsesses with trying to get us to order another bottle of Pellegino. "Would you like another bottle of Pellegino?.....Oh, you are almost done, want another bottle?....You might want another bottle of Pellegrino." Super annoying.

No dessert for us. We were literally there at 7:15 and out by 8:20. We should have went somewhere else, but you know when you have not been to a place in so long and you are hoping...Yes..this is the one. Oh well. Another wasted meal. I won't be going back.

Thanks for reading my aganizing story.

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  1. Angelina, I know the feeling. When you are dining in a fine restaurant you want to relax a bit and enjoy the overall experience. My wife and I never like excessively slow service but we do not want the bum's rush either. It sounds like Fromogerie is more interested in turning tables than they are in providing a nice dining experience.

    1. I'm guessing Mr. Burkes mind is elsewhere these days...

      1. I have a post from last spring about our brunch there being our only decent recent experience. But even that was a LOT more money than the prix fixe listed amount after just two drinks and a supplement or two.

        Our dinners there have been mediocre, overpriced food in uncomfortable surroundings.

        I really miss the old, pre-Burke place.

        2 Replies
        1. re: seal

          My husband said the same thing, seal. I miss those salads with that great dill dressing......What a shame because I love the design inside.

          1. re: seal

            Our last dinner at the pre-Burke Fromagerie was a severe disappointment. So, from my perspective, there's nothing to miss about the old place. We haven't been there since Burke took it over precisely because what we've heard about the food has been less than inspiring. This report just reinforces our decision to give it a pass. Sad, really!

          2. Totally agree. My husband and I went shortly after Burke took over and it was an awful dining experience. We chose to sit in the "wine bar" room, which pre-Burke was charming, dimly lit, and quiet...post-Burke it was LOUD, football was on the TV at the bar (btw I LOVE football but at the Fromagerie???? come on!, since when was there even a TV at the bar anyway???), definitely rushed, and quite a bright atmosphere...food was average, not french at all (no more gougeres on the menu!) same stuff he serves at all his restaurants, place was packed though (mostly with his buddies, whom he came over to check on, the rest of us were invisible to him). We have not been back since and do not plan to. It used to be a treat to visit on special occasions, and we really miss what it used to be.

            12 Replies
            1. re: JenniS

              While I've never been to the Fromagerie, I find the TV in the bar at Nicholas to be perfectly appropriate. I guess it depends if the bar is separated from the main dining area.

              1. re: JenniS

                JenniS,

                Even though Fromagerie carries a French name, I would never have expected Burke to serve French cuisine because beginning with his long stint at Park Avenue Cafe (nka PA Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring) and on to his eponymous restaurants, he has always cooked New American cuisine.

                I agree with bgut1 that a tee vee in a separate bar room does not seem an anachronism. I have never found it intrusive at Nicholas perhaps because it's kept on mute, and the room's atmospherics remain civilized since most of the clientele are more interested in the bar's drinks and stellar cuisine than in what's going on on the screen. From what you describe, it would appear that the bar area at Fromagerie attracts a much different kind of crowd.

                (Note to bgut: The bar area at Fromagerie is in a separate room.)

                1. re: RGR

                  Thanks R-

                  1. re: RGR

                    I agree that in certain restaurants a TV is perfectly acceptable in the bar. However, Fromagerie was always a more quiet, romantic restaurant, not the type of place you go to "watch the game". (BTW - it was not on mute and there were people loudly cheering. I am not uptight at all but I felt like I was in a Friday's.)

                    I understand that Burke's cuisine is not French; however, when the premiere French restaurant in the area is taken over by someone new and completely changes the menu so that it is no longer French, well, that is just a huge disappointment.

                    Bottom line is the entire menu/cuisine and atmosphere of the place changed, and I guess I'm just a fan of the fan of the way the Huber's ran the Fromagerie.

                    1. re: JenniS

                      David Burke saved Fromagerie! Some of us may want to hold on to what this restaurant was, but the reality is, it was a dying restaurant in need of a fresh breath of life! Is Burkes vision good, not exactly, but beats the alternative...

                      1. re: chefty

                        Hi chefty. Maybe you are right, but then the place needs some serious help in the serice dept. We were treated as if I was at a diner and needed to be in and out. Clearly unacceptable. I never had that problem at davidburke and donatella, why here?

                        I hope when he opens his new fish restaurant in midtown, he won't have these problems there, too.

                        1. re: Angelina

                          Honestly, service issues and NJ restaurants seem to go hand and hand... It is so hard to get 4 star service in NJ! That is what makes Nicholas, so special. Based on the price point at Fromagerie, service should be seamless... The front of the house at DBnD was run by Donatella, I wonder with their split will have any effect on service there?

                          1. re: chefty

                            For the most part, we don't have service issues in the NJ restaurants we go to. Perhaps, we've been lucky. Or maybe it's because we mostly dine out during the week when business tends to be slow(er) and only rarely on a super-busy Saturday night -- probably the most problem-prone night of the week.

                            Our #1 issue is, and always will be, the quality of a restaurant's cuisine. And, as I've said, the reason we've avoided Burke's Fromagerie is that there have been too many reports, including Angelina's, of ho-hum food. At that price point, anything less than stellar is inexcusable!

                            1. re: chefty

                              To be honest I find the service at Nicholas to be overbearing and overwrought. I don't need 4 servers converging simultaneously presenting our food. To top it off, the impatient looks and attitude they presented when it was obvious they wanted to turn the table toward the end of our meal was pretty unprofessional.

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                Perhaps, you are not used to that style of service? It is common in restaurants of Nicholas's upscale caliber. That is, the number of servers/runners = the number of diners at a table, each server carrying one plate and serving it to the appropriate diner. It's a much more elegant method of service as opposed to a single server carrying a loaded tray through the dining room, having to deposit it somewhere, and then having to remember which dish goes to which diner. It certainly beats the, "Who gets the chicken?" style of service.

                                We have always received very courteous, professional service at Nicholas and have never gotten the impression via looks, attitude or (rushed) service that they wanted us to vacate our table more quickly.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  I've been dining at high end restaurants for over 25 years and am used to a high level of service. I just never got used to it being elevated to the level of a floor show. Service at a great restaurant should complement the meal, not compete with it for the diners attention. A server's ability to orchestrate a meal with the correct amount of attention to detail and ability to anticipate the needs of a party are a measure of their professionalism. A server that can't recall the specific dishes ordered by each member of a party (at a bare minimum) will not last long in a top notch establishment.

                                  We never had a problem at Nicholas as far as our relaxing after a meal until recently. We just assumed that the economic times have resulted in the need to turn the tables over more quickly. Doesn't mean we had to like it. We were not so subtly made to understand that our continued presence was not really appreciated. Don't know if it was an anomaly or not.

                                2. re: equal_Mark

                                  Mark - I'm surprised and sorry to hear about your experience in Nicholas. I've been dining there for the past seven years and have never experienced the service issues that you complained about. In fact, I find Nicholas to exemplify the level of unobtrusive quality service one expects when dining at a high end restaurant.

                    2. our experience at David Burke Fromagerie was mixed. After making reservations well in advance, specifically for our anniversary, we were sat at a table in the bar. When I asked the hostess why we were not in the dining room I was told that I should have specifically requested that ahead of time. Problem: I had no idea there would need to be such a request since many places seat reservations in the dining room and seat the bar on a first-come basis. I could wait an hour for a table, I was told. A few other couples, we noticed, had the same surprise and were met with the same solution.

                      Meanwhile, Burke and a crew were in the bar having a good old time, drinking and shouting and cranking up the music in the bar. I asked to speak with the manager and told HIM about our displeasure. He said he felt bad and that he understood. I was promised that Chef Burke and his party would be leaving soon.

                      Everything turned up after that. The manager, and server both went beyond expectations to make us happy, comping our drinks and desserts, offering us champagne for our anniversary, and after we sat a while to listen to the live music, were surprised with two more glasses of wine on the house to celebrate. I think part of the reason for that kind of respect and treatment was because they were concerned about their customers' experience, especially in the face of what I think was their error in judgment. Also, we didn't get pissed off and nasty. We didn't leave. I made it clear that we would stay and try to enjoy it but that it wasn't good business to surprise us with lousy seating and I suggested they rethink it.

                      They couldn't have been more attentive, and I thought the food was great. It's not the old Fromagerie anymore and I accept that. Once we got over the rough start, I actually liked sitting in the bar area and have gone back since specifically to sit in the bar, have a drink and a burger or something else from the bar menu, and relax.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: aklein

                        I see absolutely nothing wrong with sitting in a bar area for dinner if that is one's choice. However, when I call and make a reservation, I expect to be seated in the dining room, so I find what happened to you insofar as seating was concerned totally reprehensible. And their excuse that you should have specified the dining room sucks big time! What if someone has never been to the restaurant before? How would they know the set-up there? If there are alternative seating options, it's the reservationist's responsibility to inform the prospective patron what they are.

                        I think it was disgracefully unprofessional for Burke to be in the bar room whooping it up with his buddies and disturbing his patrons. His manager, on the other hand, was the consummate professional and, obviously, understands the concept of good customer relations.

                        1. re: RGR

                          As usual, I agree completely with RGR. While I'm happy you ultimately enjoyed your meal, the fact that they gave you such a BS response (not to mention the conduct in bar) completely turns me off of this place (and this is coming from a fan of D. Burke having enjoyed meals at both DB & Donatella and the Park Ave. Cafe).

                          1. re: bgut1

                            I agree with you both, RGR and bgut (and I know we've had our differences along the way!). The BS response came from the hostess and I think she just wasn't armed with enough info/experience to come up with any other answer. The manager understood but, as the dining room was filled, I guess there really wasn't anything they could do but comp us some drinks and let us wait for a table. He took my suggestion that they offer the choice to patrons upon making the reservation, but I'm not sure if they've implemented any new practice.

                            I was more taken aback with Burke and his party, acting with complete disregard of his customers who, at least in FOUR cases, were made up of people who had made reservations but were sat in the bar because they didn't know a special request had to be made in advance. It is his responsibility and if that's their mission statement, he should have personally either kept his party quiet or made some sort of personal apology. Heck, he could have come by some tables and asked how everyone was doing, shown some effort and concern.

                            But we were PLEASED with the reaction to our problem (sans a better table), and the manager and server made an effort to please, as professionals should. The hostess didn't and that's another issue. But that Burke himself was seemingly blind/deaf/aloof/ignorant (you choose) was the insult. As I said, we were impressed with the effort of the manager and server once we made our disappointment clear. And the fact that we've occasionally returned to the bar since July means that we've returned with few expectations regarding standard restaurant operations... and heck, we like sitting at the bar for dinner at many spots (Shipwreck, Moonstruck, Nicholas, Market in the Middle), sometimes that's actually a better dining experience IMHO.

                            1. re: aklein

                              I enjoy bar areas as well. I just find now Fromogerie's bar area is way too bright!! We sat at the bar one time, and I felt like I was at a hair salon with all those bright lights! The white chairs make it seem almost even more bright. Not too relaxing if you are trying to unwind from a long day.

                      2. I've only been to Fromagerie twice - both in the last couple months. Both times I was there I left asking myself the same question - "Why didn't I go to Nicholas instead?"