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Fraiche-Bad Service for Us too in 2009

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Our experience with their service was HORRENDOUS. My sister was the spokesperson that night and when she requested to speak to the manager, he himself belittled her. His statement was to the effect that her complaints "made no difference" as they had served "way more important people than her." Also during our dining he and his servers would point and laugh at our table. This is all after we had ordered drinks, appetizers, entrees for all four of us AND split two desserts even after the mayhem.

Before I move forward with my rant I also wanted to mention that Ironically I happened to come across the following chowhound thread just by seaching "Fraiche Chowhound" so evidently the restaurant STILL one year later lacks genuine customer respect in some people's opinions:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/507305

It was four of us on a Girl's Night Out. We got to the restaurant, were asked to wait about 10 minutes so each ordered a drink at the bar. While at the bar we noticed the bar menu. In addition to several other items that sounded pretty delicious was a very affordable Gruyere Fondue appetizer. We made note of it but didn't order it at bar as we were only there waiting to be seated as the hostess had suggested.

So we get to our table very hungry and EAGER TO sample great food and ENJOY our dining experience. We decided we'd get several of the starters including oysters (Luna) on the half shell, a brioche which was one of that nights specials and we decided the Fondue appetizer sounded really goood. And the chaos ensued from there....

Ordered the fondue from the Server first. She tells us NO and that They'd Kill her if she let us order that in the dining room. WTefff? Note we are already annoyed but feelin' the mischief possess us. We'd outsmart them!!! One of us gals, my sis, heads back to the bar to cross their imaginary boundry. There she orders our fondue. Muaaah

While over there, the rest of us finish ordering from the menu and await eagerly the successful moment of our scheme when another server appears with the lovely crock of fondue, apple and bread squares to say "here you go Madame, enjoy your dinner." That unfortunately Never happened.

Instead I search across the room to see my sister speaking with a man in a suit that looked like he might be a manager. Only she isn't just speaking, even from the back of her head I can see she's livid. She comes back to inform us we CANNOT eat our fondue in the dining room and that if we want a taste of it, WE MUST WALK BACK AND FORTH from our table to the bar to eat it.

Our entire meal was ruined by the callous and insulting banter received by the staff. Evidently the Chef refuses to let the bar menu foods cross into the dining room. OK. Then hire staff that realize their place of employment is developing a reputation for bad service so at least they can charm us instead of insulting us further. All we wanted was a NICE MEAL for criminy sake!!!

I have my own theory the rule is based on personal Chef/Sus Chef drama that we as customers could care less about. Why torture customers. What is with all the ego. Food is to satisfy the eater's senses and make the eater happy.

About the food, YES-it was good. That's all I'll say. But not worth the insult.

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  1. i have never encountered anything but great service from the front of the house to the servers on the three occassions that i have dined at fraiche in the past year. however, the belittling of customers is appalling.

    i did try to order their moules frites off the bar menu on one occassion, but when i was informed by the waiter that the moules frites was a bar only menu, i let it go and did not tempt fate.

    that is indeed a weird rule at fraiche, but it is their rule. would you go to a friends' house and break their rules because you wanted to do something different? i think not.

    6 Replies
    1. re: wilafur

      Just for the record, the respect and etiquette given at a Friend's home is an entirely different respect. Being asked over to someone's home as a guest prompts a different mindset and the appreciation given is from heart and gratitude. We aren't paying most friends money to get invited to their homes. Not real friends anyhoo....

      Wanting some fondue with our oysters was our perogative as patrons and diners. We weren't trying to do anything different or test anything. The only issue we had was that we were expecting this restaurant would accomdate it's customers like most other fine establishments. We were ordering food to enjoy together as a group of friends and we paid our due price for food and service.

      1. re: ofijr

        respect and etiquette should always remain the same no matter the venue.

        1. re: wilafur

          Respect and etiquette was honored.

          Maybe you misunderstand my point:

          Restaurant patrons are purchasing an entire experience. In the hospitality and restaurant industry going above and beyond customer expectation is the key to building a happy clientele. This is fact...

          We as patrons did not fall out of our lines of respect and etiquette. Wanting to order a dish from the bar section in a restaurant which is not divided by even a wall, is not disrespectful. It was an innocent expectation. We didn't break any true laws and ordering bar menu fondue doesn't hurt anyone. Many people, including yourself have attempted to order off the bar menu. At the very least they need to improve it so the bar menu has a disclaimer to avoid poor service. Perhaps printed menus at the bar with "Bar Menu Will Not Be Served In Restaurant" instead of a chalk board or a sign next to the chalkboard. Even an establishment with a dress code must post their rule so patrons are informed.

          When an establishment takes a patrons money under the guise they will treat the patrons with respect then that conduct should be upheld wherever we sit within the establishment. We were first time patrons at the restaurant and were eager to be patrons. We weren't rude to the restaurant, but unfortunately they were rude to us.

          1. re: ofijr

            Lots of restaurants have different bar and sit down menus. And most of them, to my knowledge, generally won't let you order the bar menu in the more formal area. Usually the bar menu is cheaper as well - restaurants don't want their dinner tables full of people eating "bar food".

            I don't think Fraiche is the greatest restaurant (nice neighboorhood joint, but hardly destination worthy), but I don't think they did anything wrong. Sure, they could have accomodated you, but that's their policy. I've had it happen at other restaurants and it hasn't ruined my meal.

            Also, I don't understand why you were testy...a ten minute wait at the bar is not unusual...being hungry is not the restaurants fault. You then intentionally violate the restaurant's policy and expect them to be happy about it - THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!!! You want the restaurant to treat you with respect but then you got and disrespect the restaurants rules, however silly they might seem to you.

            1. re: manku

              "THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!!!"

              No, but (as a man I worked for often said) he is ALWAYS THE CUSTOMER. Of course you are in business for your own benefit, and not for that of your customers; anybody should know that. But you must never under any circumstances make that fact plain to the customer. To do so is an unforgivable breach of manners.

              I've survived frosty reception, indifferent service, people bound more by their own rules than by any dedication to customer satisfaction. I tolerate none of it gladly, and if I experience on my first two visits there will not be a third. Downright rudeness I will not tolerate at all, and anyone who does is simply encouraging those jerks.

            2. re: ofijr

              "We as patrons did not fall out of our lines of respect and etiquette" & "We didn't break any true laws and ordering bar menu fondue doesn't hurt anyone"

              you did disrespect and break the rules. it really is that simple. what part of the "no bar food in the dining room" rule did you not understand? the server told in no uncertain terms, yet your group conspired to usurp the rule by attempting to order an item at the bar. how is this respectful to the establishment?

              bottomline, the restaurant is a private enterprise, they can choose to serve who they want and under the terms that they set forth.....much like a homeowner can allow who and what they want in their residence. fraiche's rule of no bar food in the dining room is akin to a no food in the bedroom rule at a private residence. (not entirely apples to apples, but i hope you catch my drift)

              respect is a two way road.

      2. We had a terrible experience with the hostess, and we have never gone back. I seem to remember previous posts complaining about her too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rnp0123

          I was in for lunch in December 2008 and I remember the hostess being a hostile-ess too...I remember thinking on my way out after a decent meal how the hostess "sets the tone" and how her Face Draino corroded my overall experience.

        2. I'm thrilled when a restaurant allows me to order off the bar menu in the main room, and honor the rule when they don't.

          10 minutes to wait for a table isn't horrendous. Not perfect, but not horrendous.

          5 Replies
          1. re: yogachik

            Sorry to be an old poop here, but I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that if my customer wishes to be served apple pie in the restroom I should either do it or find a polite excuse not to.

            "Policy" = the final resort of the uppity servant.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Will, my guess is that they are trying to attract people to come eat in the bar area (and hopefully drink there too) by serving some food "loss leaders" in there. It would totally defeat their purpose to allow diners in the main part of the restaurant to then order off that menu.

              1. re: Servorg

                I'm not arguing with their logic, I'm arguing with their so obviously putting their own interest over that of their customer. Their job is to convince the client that "we'd LOVE to accommodate you, but the [owner/manager/Big Boss] would have my ass on a platter". That's not lying, that's diplomacy. The customer preserves his or her symbolic primacy by allowing this poor guy to keep his job, and the actually quite reasonable policy stays in place.

                Please notice that I did not say I *WOULD* serve anyone apple pie in the john. I said I'd be prepared to OR offer a good explanation, and of course there are many good explanations, starting with Health Department rules.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  More than anything I guess I was just pointing out that restaurants have policies like this one to help their bottom line so they should just point out the economic necessity to patrons who become upset. This is very much akin to the concept of "happy hour" or "early bird specials" by my way of thinking.

                  I doubt that the OP would say, "Yeah, I know it's prime time here but I want the happy hour extended for my benefit anyway" and can be pretty sure that they will receive a very negative response by the management (who would be rightly thinking by that time "We will be better off if these folks don't become regulars here").

            2. re: yogachik

              The 10 minutes didn't bother any of us at all. In fact for me, personally it was not even the rule about the bar food in the bar only....what was completely wrong and what prompted my confusedly written post was the rude attitude and the Manager laughing, pointing at and taunting customers with the Hostess from across the room, and then openly telling an unhappy customer that they serve even "more important people than her" when she was purchasing over $100 worth from their establishment.

            3. The real test is if an "important person" like Brad Pitt or Steven Spielberg try to order off the bar menu in the dining room. Would the answer be no?

              1 Reply
              1. You initially tried to order the fondue from the server at table, and she clearly informed your party of the restaurant's policy. Your party of aristocrats then colluded to look for a way around the policy in a ill-conceived 'I Love Lucy' manner (did you seriously think your original server at table wouldn't notice the fondue setting, had it been brought to you by another server?; and did you have no concern at all for either the table server nor the bar server's potential heat from management, had your plot been successful?)... They treated you like every other patron dining there, which is to say, no one in the restaurant was being served the bar menu items in the main dining area. Once the table server informed you of the restaurant's policy and your party decided to ignore it, your party worked against itself, I'm afraid. You state that all you wanted was "a nice meal", but you also wanted preferential treatement, and were willing to seek it through mildly mischievious means. Sorry to hear that the staff pointed and laughed at your party, when your attempts failed. Their bad on that...

                1. fondue with oysters , that's just not right

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: budlit

                    I like to break or bend rules but I know from experience that getting thwarted is cause for embarassment and an ego check. You have to be ready for both when you try to get around rules or outwit the powers that be.
                    Example: bringing beer into dodger games. I've won and lost at this endeavor.

                    My one trip to Fraiche: I really liked the food. The host greeted my bourbon laced smile with a smile. The waitress took our orders and brought us the check--that was her only interaction with our two-person table. She wasn't mean or rude; she had more lucrative tables to attend to, I assume. The busboys were great--filling waters, bringing food, clearing plates, etc.

                    1. re: Wolfgang

                      Wolfgang, I am officially placing my RSVP to party with you! Beers to the Dodger game, classic! I think the only possible move to show Fraiche who the hell they're dealing with is BEER HAT, in the dining room, that ain't "off menu" that's ATTIRE!

                  2. Hilarious... god knows I've enjoyed my share of egregiously bad treatment at the hands of the Fraiche-tards, but it sounds to me like they met their match with you guys. I believe they've finally found the customers they deserve.

                    Next time I go, I'm definitely ordering the fondue at the bar, three courses in the dining room and walking back and forth from bar to table, dribbling cheese all the way.

                    1. So, I'm with most of you about not being able to order bar food in the dining room as a general rule.

                      On the other hand, it seems poor planning to make the customer wait for their table, let them look at the menu of dishes available at the bar, and then after they've indulged you by waiting at the bar to tell them that they're not allowed to order it. Would it have killed Fraiche's bottom line to offer a single cheap appetizer (perhaps with a, "We don't usually do this, but since you waited we'll make an exception") to a group of customers who were obviously planning to order much more off the dinner menu?

                      I mean, what's their profit differential on a single dining-room appetizer versus a bar appetizer? Under $5? Isn't a table of happy diners with disposable income during a recession worth $5?

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: Bjartmarr

                        True, then what would Fraiche do if the customer orders food from the bar menu then their table becomes ready while their order is being made or being eaten? Do they time it just so that doesn't happen? That just seems implausible having worked at a busy restaurant as a host and waitstaff. You seat the customer when the seat is ready if the restaurant is busy and would like a fast turnover. I'm not necessarily saying the OP is right but the policy sounds limiting and with the intent of maximizing profit with this rule they might just end up losing money in the end.

                        1. re: trolley

                          I would imagine that if you order something off the "bar" menu the wait staff asks if you are waiting for a table in the dining room. If you inform them that you are waiting for a dining room table, they then undoubtedly inform you that the bar menu is only for dining in the bar area. At that point at least you know the rule, and that your bar food isn't going to be allowed to be taken with you to your dining room table.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            At that point, I order anyway and take special pleasure in slowly savoring every last morsel of cheese while sitting in the bar over at least half an hour, while my four-top sits vacant waiting for me. Two can play at the unreasonableness game.

                            Actually, I wouldn't do that, because I wouldn't go to a restaurant in the first place with such a silly approach to customer service.

                            1. re: Bjartmarr

                              At that point, I order anyway and take special pleasure in slowly savoring every last morsel of cheese while sitting in the bar over at least half an hour, while my four-top sits vacant waiting for me. Two can play at the unreasonableness game.

                              If such a game was being played at my restaurant, you'd have no four-top waiting for you as soon as "the game" became obvious. To quote you, "Two can play at the unreasonableness game".

                              1. re: Bjartmarr

                                Do you also think "happy hour" specials are a silly approach to customer service? I guess I don't see why people would be upset about a restaurant putting into place an idea to encourage people to come in and sit in their bar area to give them more business.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  what this place is clearly trying to avoid people sitting in the dining room and ordering a few low price point items and a few drinks then calling it a day. to maximize profit for both the restaurant and the server they're keeping it separate and to perhaps also grow a bar only clientele. it's a good idea from the restaurant/server pov and plenty of restaurants do this. i can guarantee that those dishes all go back to the same place so why not let the customer have a little fun? but i digress, when i went to fraiche it wasn't a fun little place. the servers seemed pretty cold and talk about one unhappy busboy!

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    How does prohibiting a group of dining patrons (who are about to drop a wad of money on dinner) from ordering a single bar-only appetizer (after you've made them wait in the bar for their table) encourage people to come in and sit at the bar?

                                    Happy hour specials are fine. I don't see the parallel. In this case, the restaurant's customer service was silly because they pissed off a table full of diners for the sake of a few bucks. It's not like they were going to order a whole table-full of bar food; they wanted a single appetizer. They may have gained $5 when the table ordered a more expensive appetizer, or they may have lost $100 when the diners decline to return for a second visit (or $500 when the diners' friends on Chowhound choose to go somewhere else instead).

                                    Bar-only menus are fine, as a general rule. But if a restaurant makes me wait around in the bar, and then refuses me a small, meaningless concession like letting me order a single bar-food appetizer, it's pretty unlikely I'll be back.

                                    1. re: Bjartmarr

                                      "Happy hour specials are fine. I don't see the parallel."

                                      Both the happy hour concept and the special bar food menu concept are aimed at getting in diners to eat who would be unlikely to come in for a regular "dining room" meal.

                                      And the special bar food menu idea has the extra added benefit of trying to get those customers to buy more in the way of alcohol than they might under normal circumstances, thereby adding extra value to the bottom line profitability of the restaurant.