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MiLa New Orleans - Service Woes, But Good Food

s
stevenr Feb 11, 2009 10:42 AM

We had ONE night on our own in New Orleans for Super Bowl weekend, so we wrung our hands deciding on which place to pick. We chose MiLa since it was within walking distance and everyone kept saying it was the best kept secret--including the culinary-trained brother-in-law.

From the very start, our waitress was horrible. It took her about 10 minutes to even acknowledge us, and ask for our drink order. I asked what beer they had. She couldn't remember and didn't have her list. " What do you like?" she countered. I listed off a couple, and she said, yeah, they had that....OK, I said.

Fast forward to 10 minutes later, and she returned, wondering if I had ordered something from her (I kid you not). Perhaps she had forgotten, as she was fussing over the wine snob next table over who had requested to SEE THE LABELS of several different bottles. Five more minutes go by, and she comes back, telling me they are OUT of that beer. A half hour later, I was finally sipping a cold one.

Our first courses were the deconstructed oysters Rockefeller and an arugula salad with soft cooked egg. The salad contained what is perhaps the BEST arugula I have ever tasted, in a light vinagrette. The oysters Rockefeller were plump and tasty. The sweet potato rolls and cornbread were outstanding.

After our first courses were removed, it must have taken another half hour to be served our entrees. All the tables around us had been served, and we suspect she forgot to place our order. Once it arrived, she made a flippant remark about how there were 2 big parties in the house that night. Like it was our fault for only being a party of 2.

Contrary to the service provided by our waitress, the bus staff was outstanding. Plates removed promptly, water glasses refilled, etc.

My wife's double cut pork chop was very good, but the oversized pork chop seems pretty common fare on today's menus. I had a roasted Halibut with some type of miso glaze, which was nice and tender.

Unfortunately, by this time our mood and taste buds had been dulled by sitting at the "9th Ward Table" as my wife started calling it: entirely forgotten. We wonder -- perhaps if we were racking up a big wine bill, things would have been different.

Postscript: the next evening we ate with a larger group at LUKE in the Hilton on St. Charles.
The place is stadium-loud, but we could have kissed our waitress' feet for being so attentive.
The food was outstanding and was about 20 percent less expensive than MiLa.

I would be curious to see what level of service others on this board have experienced at MiLa.

  1. N.O.Food Feb 11, 2009 01:45 PM

    There's good and bad service everywhere these days. Pre-K service was much better. It's easily understood, though - service folks can't afford to live here. Restaurants pretty much have to take whatever walks in the door. Food has gotten pretty consistent, but you never know what you're gonna get service-wise.

    3 Replies
    1. re: N.O.Food
      m
      mikemill Feb 11, 2009 05:22 PM

      I've had similar issues at MiLa. Chef Allison told me that because it's a hotel restaurant, it's very difficult to fire employees that they have problems with. Not a great excuse, but at least it's a bit more understandable.

      1. re: N.O.Food
        Bill Hunt Feb 11, 2009 07:45 PM

        I've held off being too critical of service, post-K, but wonder if the time has come for all of us to call the restaurants to task. It should be the restauranteur's task to train the service staff, if they are not so trained to begin with. Mikemill, in this thread, makes a valid point. Still, service is a big part of the equation, as is the host/hostess. When, I wonder, do we start holding "feet to the fire?"

        Maybe the NOLA board needs to be required reading for all servers (and chefs, and sommelieres, and hosts/hostesses and restauranteurs) in the City. I think that the time is very near.

        Throw in Katrina, and the myriad of problems afterwards, plus the economy in general, and times are definitely tough, and getting tougher. I want the good places to survive and prosper. Still, many diners are beginning to demand a stellar dining experience for their hard-earned $, however far that $ might shrink. Only the best, in all respects, are likely to survive. If it takes an hour per day of training, so be it. This seems to be a thread that is becoming more common, and not just on the NOLA board. Folks, the "golden goose" is sterile. We must move on to exist, let alone prosper. The waitress character from "Friends," and whatever program she was spun off from, is NOT charming, nor is she endearing. [Note: I do not wish to be gender-specific here. The character happened to be a female, but HER character seems to have been replicated cross-gender.]

        Now, we encountered nothing but great service at MiLa. We could not have asked for more, or better. Glad for us - sorry for the OP.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt
          m
          mikemill Feb 12, 2009 07:17 AM

          Completely agree. It's time to stop blaming K and start blaming the restaurants again.

      2. Bill Hunt Feb 11, 2009 07:32 PM

        Sorry to hear about the service. We were impressed on a Sept. trip, by both the service and the food. Our only complaint was a very noisy group outside our "area," but with very intrusive conversation and laughter - at least THEY were having fun. A near-by table was having a working business diner, and they were unfortunately closer to the offending group, that we were. I feel sorry for them. At least 12 in our area kept looking *their* way, but the party was in full swing.

        Glad that the dates did not coincide, as I would likely have been the "wine snob" looking at labels. Still, there is not excuse for the service that you describe. Restaurant management needs to take a cold, hard look at both their servers, and their FOH. This is not meant to cast aspersions on MiLa's FOH, which was great for us. Still, the restauranteurs often think only of food and not the "big picture." Your post is a good indication of how right the kitchen might be (except for a pedestrian pork chop - ours was excellent, and as good as my wife has encountered anywhere), but how off-putting poor service can be to the diners.

        Thank you for your report. I'm just sorry that you did not get our service staff, as the loud party had obviously left by Superbowl!

        Hunt

        1. n
          nola17 Feb 13, 2009 10:58 PM

          Its difficult to make a living as a server in this town these days, especially a place like MiLa, which often seems empty. This doesn't excuse the particular server, but it does explain why it can be difficult to find good servers to staff your establishment.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nola17
            f
            frenchfry Feb 15, 2009 11:00 AM

            Kids, it's not always the lack of training on the part of the restaurants. If you honestly think that is the only problem then you don't talk to enough restauranteurs.

            Crime (shootings and muggings) is at a all time high especially after midnight. And who do you think get targeted...those young people dressed in white shirts and black pants. Some of the restaurants are letting their waiters change clothes after work.

            And most waiters do not live nearby...it's too expensive. ANd it's expensive to park a car in NO.

            Drug and alcohol problems are rampant among restaurant workers. Is that OK, well no, but that's the hiring pool they have to contend with. If your waiter is high, no wonder they forget. ANd if you fire them the chances that the next one will have an either bigger problem. AND if you have personally smoked a joint and gone to work you have no reason to complain.

            I was in the business but got out 3 years ago. I am not giving a pass to the restaurants but we need a little reality here on what a mess NO really is.

          2. f
            figndate Jul 25, 2009 08:44 AM

            I just have to say that I dined at MiLa last night, and it could not have been more outstanding. Literally everything that was placed on our table was expertly prepared and absolutley delicious. They have a special app right now of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with crab meat and then fried, served with some kind of aioli. Superb. As was the barbequed lobster; the truffled risotto that the sweetbreads were served on top of was life-changing. I was pretty much too full to eat my poussin, but it also was perfect. Service was stellar, wine was delicious, I just want to express how very pleased I was with the experience. Awesome awesome restaurant. Seems an unfortunate venue for it, though.

            2 Replies
            1. re: figndate
              uptownlibrarian Jul 25, 2009 08:55 AM

              I was thinking recently that the Roosevelt opening back up could be a boon to MiLa - has anyone noticed this happening yet?

              1. re: uptownlibrarian
                f
                figndate Jul 25, 2009 09:08 AM

                Restaurant was only half full at prime dinner time Friday night, so not really.

            2. j
              JFarah Jul 27, 2009 01:06 PM

              I was there on 7/11 and was impressed with both the food and the service. We had an excellent server which gave us great recommendations. He came back to our table through out the meal to check on our wine glasses and make sure that they were nice and full. These kinds of things are expected, of course, but I thought I should mention it since Steven had a bad experience just getting beverages on the table.
              I too had the deconstructed oysters rockefeller which were fantastic! We also ordered the foie gras as an app, which was AMAZING. Our entrees were quite delicious as well, but the appetizers in my opinion stole the show.
              I loved Mila and would definitely go back, but I have read a lot of mixed reviews prior to my trip and even after my trip. It's kinda sad to read stuff like this about a place that you truly enjoyed.

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