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Aug 8, 2010 08:25 PM

Dinner at Cosmos--bad experience

I had dinner Saturday night with five friends, and it was overall a really negative experience. Sorry in advance for the long rant. I'd never been there for dinner before, but wanted to try it out because my friends were visiting from out of town and I wanted us to have a really nice meal (and it was Restaurant Week, so the really nice meal was going to be a better bargain). We had a 9:00 reservation, and we weren't seated until after 9:30. No apologies during the entire wait, no comped drinks as we waited in the bar. When we went to check on the situation after 20 minutes of waiting, we were told our table was being cleared. 10 minutes later, we were told (again, we had to go up to the hostess stand to ask what the deal was) we were told that the people at "our" table were paying their check. So apparently they lied when they told us the table was being cleared for us. When we were finally shown to our table, I told the guy (I assume a manager of some kind) that it was really frustrating, and he did apologize and say that they would try to "expedite" our service.

The wait got things off to a bad start. When we ordered, we asked if one of our group (a vegetarian who doesn't eat fish) could sub a salad for the starter options, since both were seafood. We were told no, that the chef was very particular. Fine, it's a fixed-price menu, it's a special, I can understand the desire not to make substitutions, but our waiter was snotty about it. My friend ordered the parsley root cake off the regular menu, and didn't get an app.

Next I asked if, since I'm pregnant, I could get the hollandaise sauce for my crab cake on the side. The waiter *winced* as though that would be impossible. Finally he agreed that the crab cake could be placed on the plate so that it wouldn't be touching much of the sauce. (It ended up coming out without any sauce at all.)

Another friend ordered the beef tenderloin, medium. It came out rare. She sent it back, and it came back not much more cooked than the first time--certainly no better than medium rare. Again, I understand that tenderloin, to many, tastes best on the rarer side, but that's not how she ordered it. Again, not much in the way of apologies from any staff.

When the check came, my vegetarian friend had been charged $30 for the RW menu, even though she had only argued the one entree off the menu. When we pointed this out, our waiter started to argue with us, then realized he made a mistake and went to fix it. When he came back and we put our six credit cards on the table and asked him to split it he said "oh my!" as if he'd never been asked to split a check before.

All in all, the food was ok. Service, in addition to the bad attitude, was slow (despite the "expedited" promise--we didn't finish dinner until well after 11). The crab cake was nothing special, and the beef tenderloin and potatoes for the main course were good, but not amazing in any way. The dessert options were good, too, but by that point, we were all fed up with the whole scene.

Really disappointing night. I was really unhappy and won't be going back.

Cosmos Restaturant
601 First Avenue North Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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  1. Unfortunately, I had a similiar experience on Friday evening. We went to Cosmos after Glamarama and had reservations for 9:30. It was nice to see the restaurant still pretty busy, but we had to wait about 15 minutes for our table, and similiar to baa's experience, I had to go to the hostess stand to seen when we would be seated. We both ordered from the restaurant week menu. The crabcake was fine, nothing special, but the tuna tartare was incredible! The tuna was fresh, the avocado ice cream and sriracha mayo really added great flavors to the tuna, without overpowering it. Moving on to the entrees, we both ordered the steaks (mine medium and his medium rare). My steak came out fine - but my boyfriend's was a different matter. Not only was his steak overcooked, it was cold! Not warm, but literally cold! We should have just said something to the server, but therein was another problem - although the server was pleasant when greeting us, he pretty much disappeared for the rest of the meal. We had to stop another server to place our drink order and to get our bill. I've eaten at Cosmos before and have had great service with no food issues and this last experience was very disappointing. With all of the other great restaurants in town, I just don't know if I'll be back to Cosmos anytime soon because of this experience.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I'm sorry to hear of your terrible experience. I'm especially surprised as I had a fantastic dinner there when I was pregnant and they, without asking, substituted the raw tuna amuse bouche for a vegetarian option. Perhaps this is a symptom of Restaurant Week, or a downward slide in general. We did go for lunch during RW last year and thought the food was ho hum, but I assumed that was because we were comparing it to the amazing dinners we've had there in the past.

        1. I suspect that Minneapolis suffers from a similar issue we have in Toronto.
          We have 'Summerlicious' in the summer (and Winterlicious in the winter) where local restos put on a fixed-price value menu.
          For several years now I have avoided all places with this offer as the service is typically awful and the food tends to be generic. There are exceptions, but I have learned to be sceptical of reviews during that time (not because the reviewers aren't being honest or fair; but the experiences during this promotion are not typical of what one experiences outside the restaurant week).
          I was in Minneapolis at Cosmos the day BEFORE restaurant week started (the Saturday) and it was comfortably the best meal we had on our trip.
          We ordered the tasting menu - which was nominally the same menu for each of us - but had to substitute one of the appetizers because of an allergy. At the same time, we politely asked if it was possible to substitute 'any other dish, at the chef's discretion, because we just would like to try as many of his creations as possible'.
          This was cheerfully done for the amuses, the main (meat) and the dessert. No extra charge - and we even got some different wines - we had also ordered the wine pairings.

          An excellent meal - not cheap, but 'fair' considering what we got. And the tasting menu featured dishes NOT available on the regular menu - it wasn't just smaller dishes. Effort had certainly been expended to prepare this separately.

          If there's a better dining experience in Minneapolis I'd rush to try it!

          4 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            If this place cannot manage a three course special without bobbling the seating, condescending to patrons, and destroying the food, I cannot imagine why I would be interested in eating there.

            If a $30 tasting menu is problematic, then don't offer one. My meal at Cave Vin kicked butt. I have every confidence that Saffron and Meritage (among others) did the same.

            There is no reason to tolerate a mediocre meal.

            Cave Vin
            5555 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55410

            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            1. re: kevin47

              I agree totally.

              This writeup was tough because I haven't had any even remotely negative experiences at Cosmos. The service has always been a highlight for us and it would be really disappointing if they depart from their standard M.O. for Restaurant Week.

              I will say I always take opinions with a grain of salt when you combine bargain-seeking with very high-maintenance diners (as well as expectation of comps), so I'm not sure this person's experience will dissuade me from going to or recommending Cosmos. Still, I hate to hear about this kind of thing.

              1. re: MSPD

                I had the feeling Cosmos doesn't like to deal with the riff raf during this week. Our server was snooty and I felt as though we were being pushed out the door even after spending $160 (For 2) I'll take my fine dining to Craftsman or Alma.

                1. re: MSPD

                  I always take opinions of bargain-seekers and high-maintenance diners with a grain of salt, too, but that's really not what my group was. If a bargain-seeker is anyone who goes out during RW, then no opinions from RW should count for much. I hadn't been to dinner at Cosmos before, wanted to try it out, and thought, since my friends were in town during RW, it would be fun to give it a try. We had absolutely no expectation of getting any comps when we went in, or even after we waited and waited while being essentially ignored. But something--including a sincere "we are so sorry for the wait"--should have been done/said, and would have gone a long way toward making us feel like our business mattered to them at all.

                  I also don't think my group can accurately be classified as "very high-maintenance." We had one vegetarian who asked once about a possible sub and had no problem not getting it, one pregnant person (actually two, but I was the only one who asked about the sauce), and one person who had her food cooked incorrectly and asked to have it fixed. The long wait, rude service, and incorrect bill had nothing to do with us being high-maintenance.

                  I wanted to like Cosmos, and I really, really wanted my friends to like it, since I had picked it out among all the other great places we could have gone for our "nice" dinner. It's a great room, and it had flashes of excellence (I really liked the between-course "jello shot"), but it was just not an enoyable dining experience for my group. To contrast, the next night we went out to Town Talk for a much more casual dinner (obviously), and had a great time, even though they were out of about a third of things we wanted to order. The biggest difference was that at Town Talk they acted like they actually wanted us to be there and to have a good time.