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North44 Wintervicious

s
sydandsys Feb 12, 2009 07:32 AM

Hit North 44 last night and thought I would share the experience.

The food was excellent. Small portions but the quality was fantastic and for a woman of my size, it was ample. The men at the table were a tad disappointed but needing to lose a few inches anyway, it was for the better.

The olive bread to start was excellent. For starters, 2 of us had the pork belly and scallop, while the other 2 had tuna seared with jalapeno. Excellent. Two of us had the salmon and the other 2 had the braised short ribs as entrees. Fabulous. The desserts were all wonderful with the pavlova being my particular favourite.

While the food was wonderful the service was well below par for a restaurant of this stature. If the waiter said 10 words to us the entire night i would be surprised. Examples of this:
a) rolled his eyes when we asked for more bread
b) didn't ask us if we wanted coffee/tea before serving dessert
c) didn't engage us in our wine selection when ordering or pouring
d) didn't ask us if we were enjoying our meal, if there was anything else he could get us while eating our entrees.
e) didn't thank us for dining or say goodnight when giving us the bill.

All in all, as said before, if he offered up 10 words the entire night I would be shocked.

Anyone else experience this at North 44 in the past? I didn't like my experience at One when i went last year and this proved to be equally poor. Again, the service or lack thereof.

Perhaps this is a winterlicious/wintervicious thing but i'm of the school that when you're at a restaurant you are the patron whether you spend $50 or $500. (Keep in mind the tab for the entire table last night came to $300).

Regardless I think I'm finished with the Mark McEwan restos.

  1. Lazar Feb 13, 2009 06:22 AM

    Oddly enough, I had the polar opposite experience with the service at One. The guy just wouldn't leave us alone!!

    I think it was within the first few months of the restaurant opening, and I was with my mom & cousin, and our waiter was very gracious in the beginning, but then he started to be a little over attentive....it was just about to the point of being intrusive.

    When we asked about items on the menu, he asked us numerous questions as to what our tastes we like, things we usually eat, did we ever eat offal, did we prefer meat roasted at 347°F or at 352°F (ok that last one was made up, but you get my point) and then he went into a rather lengthy oration as to the individual dishes we were thinking of ordering, and he also talked about the items we didn't want to order.

    When the food arrived, at one point, I honestly thought he wanted to sit down and cut our meat for us. He just wouldn't leave us alone, he came by every 5-10 minutes to ask how we were doing. I don't think there was any real conversation at the table, because he was always aksing about us, so we couldn't even start a conversation without him interrupting.

    The one thing that really freaked me out, was that every time I took a couple sips of water, he was back within a few minutes to "refill" the glass. My water glass was never less than 3/4 full...it was kind of creepy. And it wasn't like we were the only people there, the restaurant was full, and I am sure that he had more tables than just ours. We really rushed through our meal because of this (no coffee or dessert, we just wanted to GTFOT).

    When we left, we were all a little shell shocked. Would or should we have complained to the management? I don't know, I mean how many times do you hear of people complaining of overly attetive service? The guy was just doing his job, but going far beyond was required.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lazar
      t
      tjr Feb 13, 2009 06:58 AM

      You could have just asked him if he could tone in down (in a polite way, of course). Maybe the waiter would have even been a bit relieved!

    2. legourmettv Feb 12, 2009 02:29 PM

      If you've had a bad experience in a restaurant, the best place to complain about it - is in the restaurant! Let the management / chef know before you walk out... otherwise they can't correct the problem.
      None of the owners of any of these resto's wants to disappoint a customer, speak up and you will be heard. Then come here and alert others to what happened and what the manager did to rectify the situation.

      On the other hand you could be meek, say nothing, go home and then complain about it here...

      6 Replies
      1. re: legourmettv
        m
        millygirl Feb 12, 2009 03:03 PM

        I would probably do both. The whole idea behind Chowhound is share experiences - both positive and negative. Regardless, this is the experience this individual had. I think it's a great forum for sharing information.

        1. re: millygirl
          s
          sydandsys Feb 12, 2009 04:08 PM

          In response to legourmettv, i write letters to all companies where I experience inappropriate service. I run my own business and know the value of hearing feedback, both good and bad, from customers.

          I agree with Millygirl, my rationale for posting my experience on Chowhound is so fellow chow's don't make the same mistake. Equally, as i stated, I am curious to know whether this is just a problem I have had with MM restaurants or whether others have had similar experiences.

          1. re: sydandsys
            t
            tjr Feb 12, 2009 05:01 PM

            I wish every mistake I made involved "excellent" or "fabulous" food and mediocre service.

            1. re: sydandsys
              legourmettv Feb 13, 2009 03:10 AM

              My point was - If you don't complain in the restaurant, then nothing changes... I've interviewed a fair number of high profile chefs and restauranteurs in Toronto and across North America, and they somewhat to completely discount what is written here.
              However they appreciate a face to face about poor service.
              Sooo - complain there first and here second.

              1. re: legourmettv
                t
                torontofoodiegirl Feb 13, 2009 06:50 AM

                Maybe I'm just too meek/non-confrontational, but I'm not inclined to complain about bad service mid-meal at a restaurant. For me, it would turn a not-so-great experience into an all-out bad and awkward experience for the rest of the evening. That being said, I think a problem (especially a really serious one like eye-rolling) should certainly be brought to the manager's attention after the meal; as suggested by sydandsys, I think a letter would definitely have some impact.

                For what it's worth, the few times I've been to North 44 (not during 'liciouses) I've had excellent, attentive, friendly service. Sorry to hear not everyone's experiences have been the same. I hate it when restaurants get sloppy during the 'liciouses; if they can't maintain the regular quality of food and service, they shouldn't participate...

                1. re: legourmettv
                  p
                  phoenikia Feb 13, 2009 07:25 AM

                  I spoke to the asst. manager/manager that was in charge of the patio the night I was at Bymark, and he was the one who dealt out the rude and snooty treatment. He seemed to have a bee in his bonnet and was very unpleasant to deal with. Next time something like this happens, maybe I'll write to Mark directly, if I decide that it's worth my time.

                  I can think of several upscale restaurants where I have dined in Toronto where management is a big part of the problem- so bringing a complaint to their attention is a non-starter. Quite a few restaurants have a "If you don't like it, leave" approach in this city. Many restaurants do not take criticism or comments constructively, and they react in a defensive rather than proactive way.

          2. Muffin__Top Feb 12, 2009 02:22 PM

            I'm going to wait till I can bring the corporate AMEX =P maybe they will pay more attention to me then!!

            1. t
              tjr Feb 12, 2009 01:58 PM

              I've been to North44 and Bymark both regularly (and often), and during Summerlicious, though I won't go this time around.

              I've never had bad service at North44, though during Summerlicious the service was pretty slow compared to how it normally is. At Bymark there was really no difference, though I've received rude service once on the patio (but never saw the same waiter there after that).

              1. t
                tygrr_lily Feb 12, 2009 09:37 AM

                i went to north 44 for summerlicious and had a very similar experience to you. while the food was good (though smalllish portions), we found very similar complaints about the service. our dinner almost ended up taking 2 hours because the service was so slow.

                when we were seated, it took the waiter 20 minutes to come even take our orders. ridiculous. each course probably came out in 30 minute intervals, including dessert. we were never asked how our meal was. i think we saw our waiter once at the beginning, and maybe at the very end w/ the bill (it coudl have even been someone else). it was ridiculous to see... the table next to us was getting very similar experience and they as well said they wouldn't return.

                i don't know if it's because we only ordered glasses of wine and not a bottle, or because it was summerlicious, but it ruined our experience of the restaurant to the point where i don't think i would return. the food was decent, but they failed the "try out" and i'd rather spend my money elsewhere

                1. p
                  phoenikia Feb 12, 2009 08:42 AM

                  Haven't dined at North 44, but I have experienced terrible service at Bymark on their patio. I'm not sure if the employee I spoke with was an assistant manager or a manager, but he was the rudest, most sarcastic and condescending restaurant employee I have ever met. Anywhere. You couldn't pay me to return to Bymark.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: phoenikia
                    l
                    LTL Feb 12, 2009 11:35 AM

                    Strange...I was treated to impeccable service during last year's Summerlicious at Bymark.

                  2. Splendid Wine Snob Feb 12, 2009 08:24 AM

                    It may sound harsh but if a server EVER rolled his/her eyes at me, regardless of the establishment, I would IMMEDIATELY ask for the manager, pay for what I had eaten, and promptly get up and leave. Rolling eyes at anyone is the height of rudeness. I don't get it.

                    SWS

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