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Jun 22, 2010 06:38 PM

Service at Olive & Gourmando

I've been living 2 blocks from Olive & Gourmando for 10 years and no matter how much I love their pastries (and brownies), the chilly reception and bad service just seem to be getting worst. On our latest trip there, we were shocked when they refused to sell us a half-bowl of fruit for our 11-month old daughter! My husband works for a restaurant so we know better than to ask for free food (but most places will do half-portion as it seems like a waste to buy a 7$ bowl for an infant)! We have taken our daughter all over town and have found places to be so accommodating. Were we asking for too much or is there a secret handshake that ensures good service at O&G? Between that, the girl at the counter that never seems to smile and waiting for orange juice after coffees and pastries have been served should we just forget about O&G, simply take our pastries to go next time or stick to Le Cartet for a quick neighborhood breakfast from now on?

Le Cartet
106 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

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  1. Funny this topic should appear as I was discussing O & G with friends this weekend.

    Good Cuban sandwich & great brownies but in my opinion not worth the wait or attitude.

    I sum up my experience of O & G like this, 1st wait for a table, 2nd wait at the counter to order your food, 3rd wait at the other counter to pay for the food, 4th wait to get drinks delivered, etc.

    All that waiting and my lunch hour is over.

    Plus everyone with a sour face like they are being forced to work against their will.

    11 Replies
    1. re: InterFoodie

      me too i have not really enjoyed lunches i have had, nor the pastries and even bought the fig bread and nothing special. Never understood why people recommend this place for visitors to the city, except in old montreal not much competition

      1. re: wilmagrace

        I find them polite but not overly friendly, le Cartet is the same, imho.

        As for them not selling you the half bowl of fruit, I would not do it if I were the business owner . I only eat half a sandwich but I never asked them to sell me half.
        You could bring a small baggie of fruit and feed your baby those, they'd never know or possibly would not mind.
        Valliere on McGill seems casual enough, and they serve fruit with their breakfasts,
        this would work for you, they also bring mini pastries before the entrees.

        1. re: superbossmom

          I also agree it's strange you'd be shocked at not being able to buy half a dish. Portions are set and it's unreasonable to expect quantity adjustments according to your individual needs. If some places will do it I'd consider it a bonus and not take off points for unwillingness to accommodate.

          Also, I assume that you would expect to pay $3.50 for half a $7 item? As with anything at a store or restaurant, buying a larger quantity usually means paying less per unit. So maybe even if a half-bowl were offered, you could reasonably expect to pay around $5 for it. And especially since we're dealing with such small dollar amounts, getting worked up about it is really not worth it.

          1. re: reelection

            there are so many restaurants that appreciate each customer's business and will be happy to accomodate your needs.

            1. re: celfie

              Restaurants will accomodate customer needs (i.e half portions) when they think it works for them (the restaurant) as a commercial interest. Some will err, on both sides, and some will hit the mark.

              1. re: celfie

                Agreed. I've worked in kitchens. We're talking a bit fruit, it doesn't exactly take a lot of effort.

              2. re: reelection

                So I guess you never jaywalk, because the rules say that you must cross the street only at intersections and only when the light is green.

                Rules are excellent things, but it's also good to be flexible when the situation warrants flexibility of the rules.

                1. re: riboflavinjoe

                  So I guess you complain when McDonald's won't sell you half a Big Mac.

                  More goes into pricing and portions than the average consumer might think. If it were not the case, then restaurants would let you choose whatever you want at whatever quantity you want and charge you by the pound.

                  Like I said, if restaurants will do it for you (and I don't doubt many will) it's a nice bonus. But half of the original post was to complain about the fruit, and that's not fair to a business owner.

                  1. re: reelection

                    You're right...we were on our way to Cartet and the baby had eaten, so she only needed a small piece of toast or fruit to nibble... Another lesson of parenthood, check at what time restaurant open on week-ends! But, as I mentioned 10 years living 5 doors away from them and the only smile I have ever seen is when they are outside smoking. It seem like that Seinfeld episod with the "soup nazi"... Don't ask question, order and get out of the way. It seems others have also experiences this, while others have had amazing experience.

                    1. re: Claudine_d

                      For the record, I agree that when dealing with a repeat customer of 10 years, it may be good business sense to just serve the half-bowl of fruit to make the person happy! :)

              3. re: superbossmom

                Their cold sandwiches are available in half size and I always order the half chicken sandwich which also contains cajun spices, guacamole, tomato and mango.

          2. Hah! I've actually observed service at O&G to improve with the recession. Couple years ago, I brought in family from out of the country and they snarkily refused to serve ice water (in the middle of August no less). My guests are still talking about that years later: "where's that place that you took us again with the yummy sandwiches but that wouldn't give us ice?"
            Now, they accomodate our request for ice without a blink.

            1 Reply
            1. As a visitor from Boston, I took my wife to have breakfast there after having a fantastic experience at O & G's a year ago. I told her I had read your recent post on Chowhound and to be prepared for some attitude. We got attitude, all right: super great attitude. From the hostess who seated us, to the two waitresses, to the cashier who bore our indecision about what to get for take out after our meal, everyone was totally friendly and helpful. Really, everyone there could not have been nicer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: katzzz

                I had the same experience when I visited in February - everyone was great.

                1. re: katzzz

                  As another visitor from Boston, I stopped in at the end of May remembering the great croissant I had there last visit. I asked if there were any choc/almond croissants and she looked at me like I had 3 heads. Sounds like they're kind of all over the place.

                2. Thought it was only me. The staff are totally inflexible, like robots, no charm, no grace, no humour.Takes away from everything. O & G should change its name to Oy Gevalt.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: howardox

                    I agree the service could really use a boost of energy, happiness, contentment with their jobs... but as a waitress, I couldn't help but notice what a frenzy lunch time is. Waitresses squeezing past long line-ups of people with food, serving both tourists (which usually require quite a bit of attention) and locals (who might want a fast lunch). So I wouldn`t blame the waitresses entirely; for one, the layout isn't set up for the volume they get.

                    Veritas or Le Cartet usually satisfy my nibbly coffee/pastry desires when I don't want to line up at O & G. They're not as good, but I don't have to fight for a croissant.

                    Le Cartet
                    106 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y, CA

                    Veritas Cafe
                    480 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2Y3Y7, CA

                  2. I have never had anything but kind sevice with a smile at O&G. This is with the caveat that I used to live very closeby and was a regular there for a long time. Went back with a friend a week ago though and was welcomed with open arms.