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Mar 25, 2009 10:36 PM

uWink... I groan.

We were at a conference at the Renaissance Hotel yesterday and today, and had the misfortune of having lunch at uWink.

We were the only table in there at the time - mid-lunch rush. None of us had been there, and done the whole touch screen order-for-yourself-as-if-you're-your-own-waiter bs. Our screens weren't working properly, and our waiter was horribly intolerant. You'd think we were utter morons, that we were trying to order spaghetti at a sushi bar. His eyes rolled back so many times that I feared they'd get stuck back up there in his head.

I'm allergic to dairy, and I asked for certain whether the side of steamed vegetables had butter on them. I explicitly asked if I needed to specify that. His response was, "Uh (heavy sigh), it says steamed, and do you see a place to "specify?"" So, I trusted him, and sure enough when they came, they had butter on them. I told him this, and he shrugged. Unfortunately, we were running late; otherwise, I would have spoken to someone else. Others ordered the fish tacos, which were less than appetizing (came with apparently tasteless black beans and rice), as well as one of the salads, which was drenched in dressing.

When I inquired about paying our bills, with another sigh and an eye roll, he said, "I already printed them out for you; you'll never be able to figure it out."

I know it's not gourmet, and it's in a tourist spot, but the attitude of our waiter who was too cool for school and so intolerant, well, someone brought him up again today. I would not go back, and when I jokingly suggested it today, I got a whip of glares. For the same money, I could get much better, efficient food without the attitude. I don't want to order myself. I don't find it fun. Maybe it's fun for a solo diner to play games, but when I'm with others, I want to.... converse.

P.S. 7 dollars for a mini garden salad of lettuce, a few diced tomatoes, and a few diced cucumbers? really? and their entrees are like twenty something dollars a piece.

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  1. Their Web site gives contact information:

    You might want to send your complaints to them. The fact that they have a technology-licensing department, however, tells you that the real point is probably neither food nor service -- uWink, uWink.

    Incidentally, I used a flatscreen menu -- a wine list, actually -- at Aureole in Vegas last year and hated it, even though I'm a computer scientist. I like to ask my waiter questions and let him or her handle the input to their inventory-control system. (If I can keep from laughing, next time I'll hold the screen up to my face and very slowly and stiffly say, "I-want-the-B-V-cab-er-net.")

    1 Reply
    1. re: sbritchky

      i understand that their draw isn't the food, but that's still no excuse for obnoxious service. i could send complaints, but i really don't know if it's worth the trouble.

      and i'm very computer saavy; it just seems like an awful lot of work to get a silly order of food in... and there aren't instructions printed somewhere for those that can't figure it out. i guess our "printed instructions" came in the form of the condescending waiter... i guess it's all the same ;)

    2. Thank for the review. I had previously wanted to go just to observe the spectacle. Now I believe I shall pass.

      1. It never ceases to amaze me, during these financial times, why managers aren't watching and turning themselves inside out to accomodate even the smallest request by a customer.
        No wonder you were the only table in there at mid-lunch rush.
        Most likely, in a few months, another one will have bit the dust.

        1. Great headline. I too have groaned.

          CPK, the Daily Grill and Trastevere have outlets at the H&H complex, also an interesting-looking shabu-shabu place that I haven't yet tried.

          Across the street at the Roosevelt is 25 Degrees, imho one of the best burgers around, but be careful of lackadaisical service at lunch. Three blocks east is Musso and Frank's, a bit of authentic L.A. history, old-school efficient service and very good food.

          uWink is owned by Nolan Bushnell who founded Atari. As good a restaurant as it was a computer.

          6 Replies
          1. re: maxzook

            Don't knock the Atari computers - they were quite good. But UWink sucks. went to the original out in Woodland Hills, twice. The second ONLY because a buddy of mine had given me a gift card because he thought I'd like it. He did put effort into it, but the food/service/ entire atmosphere is just lame. Save your money and go someplace good.

            1. re: maxzook

              More to the point, Bushnell is the man who founded Chuck E. Cheese. Anybody looking for something remotely edible is in the wrong place.

              1. re: condiment

                The main thing is the nieces love to order on screen and play a few games. I like to think of UWink as a place you can get an ok bite (servicable burger), while your amusing the kids -- a step up from ChuckEC. No where non gamers should really bother eathing -- sort of like how you eat at Disneyland, but you don't think, hey I'm in anaheim, maybe I'll grab a bite at Disneyland. My neices are young, but I think part of their adult draw is that you can play games cross tables, probably great for a team or frat.(I think they have a bar)outing.

                1. re: debra

                  But it's such a bother having to explain to the kids why they shouldn't imitate the waiter's rude behavior! ;-)

                  1. re: sbritchky

                    Ya that's so odd, we were there at lunch a few months ago, at the woodland hills location, and found the staff helpful. The kids burger didn't have the same cheese choices online, IIRC, but they were very accomodating and nice about it. All that eyerolling and condesention deserves a complaint to management. I don't think that's the norm, or at least it shouldn't be, it wasn't our experience at all.

                    1. re: debra

                      it shouldn't be the norm, but hey, hollywood is it's own place... i grew up in LA, and it's so not reflective of los angeles to me. maybe he was having a bad day; maybe he didn't book that part on melrose place; maybe his roommate ate the last red balloon out of his lucky charms... nonetheless, i still am not invested in his personal drama.

                      koji's was my vote, but alas, i was out-voted... but i did get to rub it in the next day :) there are other viable options in H&H, but we had 35 minutes, and kind of made a decision on the fly... oh well. 15 dollars poorer and 35 minutes wiser.

            2. What rude service!

              I've eaten at uWink once (not by choice) and while the food was better than I expected (I had VERY low expectations) from a place like this, their whole touchscreen menu system needs an upgrade. I know the draw of it is that you DON'T need a waiter, but our touchscreen kept freezing, restarting, etc. and we had to get the waiter to reboot it a couple of times.

              If two people who work with computers can't figure out the menu, maybe it's time to rethink the idea.

              3 Replies
              1. re: PandanExpress

                We had the EXACT same experience... Luckily we came in at an unbuzy time and sat at the bar with a very understanding bartender who had no problem helping us out... We had a Pecan Salad and a Chicken Sandwich... keeping things simple I think is the best bet..



                1. re: Dommy

                  i'm not sure how to get simpler than a side of steamed vegetables (without butter please) and a garden salad.

                  funny thing is i asked for balsamic vinegar on the side. it arrived with balsamic vinegarette on it. i reiterated vinegar; he said okay. it came back with balsamic vinegarette on the side. i asked the busboy who delivered it for vinegar. he said okay. he returns with another side of vinegarette. i asked the waiter for vinegar. he says okay and tells me he told the busboy vinegar. then the waiter returns with vinegarette. keep in mind, my salad is almost gone by this point. i asked one more time and clarified again. the busboy returned with a side of olive oil. so at the end i have three sides of vinegarette and a side of olive oil. stellar.

                  1. re: Emme

                    Hilarious. This is almost an SNL sketch. I guess you could have waited for the first side of vinaigrette to separate, pour off the oil, and used the vinegar at the bottom.