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Bad service at Gaslight

Looks like someone else's review of Gaslight hat I responded to got removed, so I'm reposting this response:

I had some really bad service in the dining room at Gaslight not too long ago (and so did some friends at the next table who had the same waiter). Server just not on top of his game on a night when the place was 1/3 full. You know the type: very friendly, but disappears for long chunks of the evening, leaving us to scrounge for our own replacement flatware, not get the ketchup for the frites until way too late, etc.

The final insult was him bringing me the change from my check with a 15% tip already subtracted. I guess he wanted to get what he could, but I don't think I've ever seen that done at an Aquitaine Group establishment. We left rather than wait another 15 minutes for his next table visit so we could explain to him that it should be our choice how much to leave him, not his. That was really the suck. Gaslight's off my list for a while. My buddy at the next table's probably never going back; he's not the forgiving type like me.

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  1. Gaslight has been off my list for awhile. The last time I was there a couple months ago it was a slow Sunday night at the bar and still the service was bad. It's surprising that the service at Gaslight seems so different from the service at any of its sister restaurants.

    The automatic deduction of the tip is totally unacceptable.

    1. I have always enjoyed my meals at Gaslight, as well as the atmosphere and the really terrific host staff, but I agree -- the waitstaff and barstaff service has always been lacking. It's a shame. It doesn't keep me from going every once in a while, but if I'd had that tip experience like you did MC, I think I'd never go back.

      2 Replies
      1. re: litchick

        Food has been mediocre at best at all my visits. The wine glasses suck. The only good thing about this place is the free parking.

        1. re: Wursthof

          I would echo this sentiment. Went last night, sat at the bar and the aforementioned Eastern European woman was our waitress and was helpful and friendly, although we only had two table settings for four through our appetizers. She did brink my friend a glass of champagne when she heard it was her birthday. Perhaps she was making up for some miscues the night before. However I did not think the food was all that great, I have had better steak at Amrhiens, and 10.5 ounces of beer for pint prices just sickens me. I don't think I will be going back.

      2. Wait --I don't get it. Were you with a large group and the 15% was added onto the bill? Or are you saying he just took 15% from your cash for himself? I've never heard of such a thing.

        3 Replies
        1. re: twentyoystahs

          I paid the check in cash; the change came back 15% short. We waited about ten minutes to catch sight of the server again, but he'd been disappearing for long stretches all night, and we couldn't stand to wait for him to show up one more time, so we just gave up and left.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Wow...that's what we in the business call THEFT!

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Yes. Unless you were told in advance that it would be deducted and you stayed and ordered anyway, that would likley be theft in the eyes of the law.

              I'd have called the manager over immediately.

        2. I would think the tip situation would warrant an email to the management, at least under the guise of "so I know for next time, is this the policy"? I guess if you don't plan to return it might not be worth the trouble.

          I am generally able to cut a restaurant some slack for brunch, but I've had such bad service for that meal at Gaslight that the last time my friends and I were literally recapping all the service missteps on the way home. That time one of the orders was wrong (and it was a meat dish for a vegetarian, so she wasn't about to eat it anyway) and the promised replacement never came. Was it on the check? Of course it was. Did it take another 15 minutes to get that situated? Yes, yes it did.

          1. Wow, I'm disappointed! We went to Gaslight on recommendations from friends back in October and we had an absolutely wonderful evening. Our server was attentive, and helpful and it was packed (on a Saturday night). We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals - if I remember correctly my husband had Veal and I had the duck confit.
            I hope that the experiences here on this thread are not becoming the norm at Gaslight!!

            1. Interestingly enough, had commendably good service at Gaslight on a very recent visit. The server was most attentive but not hovering, with water glasses kept full, and no check shenanigans (maybe someone at the restaurant read MC Slim JB's original post and made appropriate corrections -- they certainly should).

              Food was generally pretty good. Started with a small baguette loaf in a paper bag that while not at Paris bakery level was decent nonetheless. Had duck confit with citrus chard salad and garlic roasted potatoes. The potatoes were fine, with a nice crust and subtle garlic flavor. The salad was OK if not really surpassing the sum of its shredded chard, orange slices, and red onion pieces. The duck was cooked right, but if the the orange gastrique was indeed there, it was very thin and had made its way through into the chard salad sitting underneath.

              Maybe not the last word in French food here locally, but pretty good nonetheless.

              7 Replies
              1. re: bachslunch

                I guess I've been lucky, too. I went this past weekend for what was only my 2nd visit, after a lovely 1st visit about a year ago. Both times the food was very good and the service unremarkable enough to neither enhance nor detract from our meal. With the reasonable prices and free parking, my wife and I both agreed that we once again liked the place a lot. Of course, if I were to ever experience what you've described, MC, I would have a very hard time returning.


                1. re: BJK

                  My own experiences at Gaslight have been better than that one incident, as a whole. I don't think any aspect of the restaurant -- bartending, service, food -- has shown quite the level of consistency of other Aquitaine Group establishments, but they're trying to hit a lower price point, too.

                  Obviously that tipping business was a heinous bit of nonsense, clearly an anomaly: a bad egg or badly undertrained server. I know that their GM reads Chowhound, so the staff probably got an earful on it.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I'm seriously surprised that, with as frequently as you dine out, MC Slim, that you didn't mention it to anyone that night at the restaurant. Even if the waiter never showed up again, I would have found someone who could go get the waiter and/or a manager and asked why 15% had been deducted? As stated above - that was theft!

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      It's a fair question. I originally wasn't even going to post on the incident, just planned on taking Gaslight off the list for a while, and then some first-time poster put up a long post about recent bad service, so I chimed in with my anecdote. The mods removed the original post. Once I've taken the trouble to write what I hope is a factual and even-handed report (instead of a cranky-sounding rant), I don't want it to disappear, so I reposted it independently; the mods were kind enough to forward me my contribution to the deleted thread so I could repost.

                      So, to answer the question, "Why not insist on finding a manager?", I'd say we got worn down by being repeatedly abandoned and ignored over the course of two hours. Stalking out was about all we could muster the energy for at that point. It's the end of a very long day; we have a cocktail, a late meal with some wine, the waiter disappears yet again, the tip is essentially taken care of -- let's just go home. We might have buttonholed the hostess on the way out, but I'm fairly certain that she's not the floor manager at Gaslight. FoH MIA TTYL.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Understandable. But perhaps a phone call/note/Email to the GM at your dismay/anger over having had your tip automatically removed from the payment would be in order, even if it's several days afterwards. I know you said you're pretty sure the GM reads Chowhound, but that is unconscionable that the waiter took a tip without your OK, and the GM should definitely be informed.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Mods may remove this as they did before, but the GM did in fact reach out to me with an apology and assurance that he would address the issue with the FoH staff. My response was pretty much what I've said here: I didn't consider it a representative experience and was grateful for the follow-up.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Fair enough. Glad to hear it that the situation wasn't ignored.

              2. Since I had chimed in earlier with a tale of bad service, it's only fair I relay my latest experience at Gaslight, which was much better.

                Four of us had an 8pm reservation last Saturday. We got there early, the bar area was packed, so we had to stand. 8pm comes and goes, and then 8:30. One of my friends is pregnant and especially in need of some food so another member of our party made some noise at the host stand who was apologetic about the wait.

                We are finally seated at 9, and they brought out some apps on the house: tasty fried mussels that came with a kind of olive relish, a rather nice selection of cheeses, and the cheese/sausage fondue we had already planned to order. We understand Saturday night waits, but we were all starving. Great, all is forgiven, Gaslight. The server took our drink order right away.

                Then the manager of operations then came over to apologize again, and to ask a favor: the restaurant is oversold (duh) and in order to accomodate a party of 10, they will have to relocate us to the other side of the room. To make up for this inconvenience, they will comp our entire meal (before we had even ordered). Sure, why not? We were actually moved from one of the hectic tables by the bathroom to a cozy booth by the window, so frankly, we won twice.

                Service couldn't have been more accomodating and well-paced, which was a nice surprise--I didnt know how a "free meal" table would be served. When a check for $0 was presented by the host (again, with more apologies) "for our record", i noticed that the appetizers weren't on them. We tipped 50% on the final tab and all felt like we had a great night out, despite a rocky start.

                Honestly, I don't think I am a particularly demanding diner, so I was a bit surprised that we "deserved" a free meal for waiting on a Saturday night and relocating 15 feet, but it certainly made a good impression on us.

                6 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  Knowing that Aquitaine Group's partners pay careful attention to Chowhound, I would not be surprised to learn that Gaslight's staff got the benefit of an informal chat from management as a result of this thread. That's a refreshing difference from some restaurateurs, who are more interested in arguing the invalidity of online criticism by the great unwashed than actually fixing service problems.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    Sounds like a management save, with (hopefully) a permanent fix. I will move gaslight up to the top of my mental "to try" list (and would assume that other 'hounds will do the same), validating the managements attention to the unwashed (who beat the douchey afterwork crowd anyday)

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      interesting comment mc slim. i was wondering also why more restauranteurs do not comment on this site. if they represent themselves approporiately is it not wanted here?

                      1. re: cockscomb

                        This thread is veering off topic into discussing the discussion of food, so we'll just refer you to our Site Guidelines for Insiders: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676... We have fairly strict guidelines for how owners, employees, friends and family can represent themselves appropriately when posting on Chowhound, which include keeping posts factual only and always disclosing their relationship each time they post.

                    2. re: LeoLioness

                      We ate at Gaslight about a week ago, having read this thread, and had a similarly positive experience with the service -- very friendly and attentive. I spilled a glass of wine that I had finished much of, and after the cleanup (which happened without a hint of eye-rolling from the staff) I was immediately comped another glass.

                      I thought the meal was excellent for the very reasonable prices. (Choucroute, daube. Not ideal examples of the subtle, long-cooked flavors they would have had in France, but perfectly fine for the price. We'll definitely go again.)

                      1. re: fesenjan

                        We eat at Gaslight 1-2 times a month (always on Sunday nights) and have always had positive service experiences. Pierrot Bistro is my preference for "local french", but they are closed on Sundays