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Driskill Thanksgiving Dinner: For $70.00 they ought to serve turkey with that

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Was reluctant to book because the cost was $58.00 prepaid and they insisted that any cancellations had to be made 48 hours in advance but we went ahead and did it. Arrived early for our 3:00 reservation and a nice man in the lobby had our reservation "slip" out on a table convention style. He said they would be letting another group up shortly. Other than to see that we did have a reservation by having us reference the reservation slip there was never any sort of attempt to know who they were serving. For that price and strictness with the prepayment I'd expect them to know us by name and escort us to a table. Someone told one of us to pay, I guess the prepayment only applied if you didn't show up , and then we could get in line to be seated. Eventually a nice lady took our money (and 21% tip) and we made it to a long and slow moving line that they were seating people from. At this point it was 3:15. By 3:30 we had made the head of the line. The host was somewhat apologetic--said all the earlier reservations had arrived late backing them up. No attempt was made to differentiate when anyone's reservations were though.

Finally almost 40 minutes late our group was seated. Right in front of the two piece ensemble of musicians. It was waaaaay too noisy, there never should have been a table so close. After almost 10 minutes a waiter appeared. He filled three of seven glasses with iceless tap water. One of us ordered a cocktail and he disappeared , we determined a few minutes later to get the drink. At that time he got someone to finish the water and took drink orders. At that point I headed for the buffet. Good shrimp although they were out of cocktail sauce at that moment and there was a huge backup to the carving station. The guy over the prime rib was joking with the people in line but none of the three carvers was actually serving anything. After a few minutes one of us asked why the line, which by now snaked around the buffet table and contained about everyone who had been seated in the last 15 minutes, was not moving. That spurred them out of their inaction. They started serving and the line started moving. They were out of turkey. When asked when they would have some turkey the carver there kind of shrugged, disinterested and unhelpful--I just work here and I don't know. We waited a few minutes and left. Meanwhile, another part of our group had waited for the drinks, which were botched. One of us had ordered a mimosa and they brought four. Also couple other minor mistakes. When they approached the buffet there were no plates. No one seemed to take it that it was their job to obtain plates. Eventually plates appeared and they joined the line. Still no turkey, still a disinterested shrug. They determined to wait and turkey appeared.

The food was good. The dressing in particular was tasty. Serving errors however continued to multiply. There was no sweetener on the table.We asked them in the service area where to find some sweetener and the guy said it was on the table. Uh, no it's not. He did go and get it. Unremoved dishes. Unfilled water glasses. Just all around poor service. I went for seconds and there was no line at the carving station (!) No turkey again though! And she didn't know or care when they would again have that rare bird. The ham carver guy had wandered off. No one was manning the brunch food sections. The guy that had been cooking crepes disappeared and never came back. I served some that were boiling in a pan to another diner and noticed way later that the same pan as still boiling. I believe 300 was the last reservation. By 400 the band quit playing we were happy about that. Most other guests and waiters from elsewhere started providing good service to our table. No one ever asked us how our meal was. The whole experience was worthy of a Holiday Inn, shame on you Driskill you won't be getting a second chance at anything from us.

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  1. Not specifically about service at the Driskill... Relocated here not long ago with extensive experience in the service industry, specifically 5-star restaurants, hotels and resorts....

    This type of service seems to be the norm here in Austin. Not sure if it's the overall laid-back attitude (which I like, but expect more when paying $300+ for dinner for two when I am out.) There is something to be said about quality service and places that it would be expected, should provide it. Casual is great, but there are special occasions and times when you like to be catered to...and you should be able to get that type of service somewhere like the Driskill and other high-end restaurants in Austin.

    1. OK, you beat my Thanksgiving horror brunch ... no turkey trumps no cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes. Not only was there no cranberry sauce, they staff didn't know what cranberry sauce was. This was a $50 brunch in an American restaurant, not like it was a cuisine from another country.

      Accidently clicked on this link. I'f from SF. However, all the other details were so similar to my experience at a local restuarant. Cluelss staff, badly thought out buffet. They had a crock of tartar sauce on the table for no reason.

      I try to avoid reservations near the end of the serving hours as often restaurants do run out of things ... though not the main course ... and things start shutting down.

      I hope you write a letter of complaint to this restaurant.

      1. I know that the Driskill can do a great job, but this sounds like a major stumble. It sounds like they overbooked, underestimated the amount of time people would stay, understaffed and didn't cook enough food. That is really unacceptable, especially for a place that wants to be included in the list of finest "event" facilities in town.

        Reading about your experience makes me glad that we chose to go to The Bakehouse, where despite the humble setting and bargain price, we had a relaxed time, good food and great service from a young lady who was working a 12 hour plus shift and still told everyone that she was having a fantastic day.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ashforth

          They had enough people there just the wrong people. They need to hire the young lady from the bakehouse to run their hotel.

        2. I've always had bad experiences with thanksgiving brunches, particularly the buffet style brunches.

          We tried to book a reservation for the thanksgiving dinner (not brunch) at Driskill but to no avail. I'm wondering if anybody here could comment on how the thanksgiving dinner at Driskill went.

          1. I'm so glad now we didn't try to eat out, esp. at the Driskill. You said "The whole experience was worthy of a Holiday Inn". Sorry, but it sounds to me far below a Holiday Inn. I would have gone directly to the manager and insisted on my money back. Double shame on you Driskill.

            1. You were amazingly patient given the circumstances. I would strongly encourage you to write a polite but firm letter to the Chef and cc the GM to let them know about your experience, disappointment and embarrassment. There is no excuse for such poor service, whether it's a Holiday Inn or a 4 star hotel. At a minimum they should offer you a future comped meal to encourage you to return to their restaurant. And if they have any self respect and respect for their customers, I expect they will promptly and graciously do so.

              If you do follow-up with them I hope you'll post to the list to let us know of the result.

              1. I went to that same brunch too actually. We went before noon so I did have turkey and it was really good. But there were so many different things that were good so the turkey was just the icing on the cake. I think the problem is that I saw this old woman by my table come back with more turkey on her plate no less than 3 times. I'm sure more people did that, so of course they would run out. It is a buffet and the Driskill should take that into consideration.

                I would agree that the service was plain lackluster, besides the artificially excited woman who gave us our ticket and the hot Tyra Banks lookalike that escorted us to our table. She seemed to be much younger so maybe that's why she wasn't as stuffy as everyone else. She was really funny and friendly and showed us all the food on our way to the table and made sure we had everything we needed at our table when we got there. Other than that, I'm not sure if our waitress spoke english, but she didn't mess anything up either, and the bald man at one of the cooking display tables by us looked very angry so we didn't even bother trying to get what he was making.