Lone Eagle Grille, Lake Tahoe -- Needs a Lesson in Service!!!
- CindyJ Sep 12, 2010 11:15 AM
I rarely write unfavorable reviews here on CH, but the service we experienced at the Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village earlier this week was so messed up, I feel compelled to report it here. Since I first learned about Lone Eagle in a query I had posted here (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7266...), I figured this was a good place to report on my experience. I fully intend to send a letter to the manager there, but for now, I'll vent my frustration here.
When I made our dinner reservation several weeks ago, I noted that we'd be celebrating our anniversary and a birthday, and requested a lake-view table. I did understand that this was only a request, which might or might not be honored. When we arrived, we were told it would be a 20-30 minute wait for a table with a view. Since it was getting late, and the sun would soon be setting, we opted to be seated at a table further back. However, not more than 5 minutes after we arrived, another party of 3 was shown to a table at the window.
We were given our menus as we were seated. Not more than 5 minutes later, our server came over to take our order. We said we needed more time, and asked for a wine list, which we got promptly. The sommelier came over to ask if we had any questions and we told him we'd let him know after we'd decided on our dinner selections. Two minutes later, our server came back to take our order. We told her we STILL needed more time. When we finally made our decisions, we asked to see the sommelier. Our over-anxious server returned and, although we hadn't made our wine selections, we did order our dinners. In hindsight, that was a BIG mistake. The sommelier turned out to be quite helpful and made some good suggestions. However, before our wine was brought to the table, our salads/appetizers arrived. Okay. Now I was getting annoyed. I don't know about you, but I like to relax with a glass of wine before beginning my dinner. So we decided to wait with our apps/salads until after the wine arrived, and that's what we did. As our apps/salads were finished, the plates were cleared. Being the chatty one at the table (who, ME?), I was still eating, but the other plates had already been cleared. I know, we could have said something, but at a place like Lone Eagle Grille, you'd think the wait staff would know to wait until everyone had finished a course before clearing the plates.
It was not more than two minutes after my salad plate was cleared that our entrees arrived. ENOUGH!!! My husband told the server that we did not appreciate being rushed through our meal, and that we were not ready for our entrees. She looked incredulous and flustered, and asked if we wanted her to remove the entrees. What... we should have them sit there and get cold until we were ready for them? So, yes, she removed the entrees. Now, I'm NOT in the restaurant business, but I'd think that if I were serving, and if a customer of mine was obviously unhappy, I'd send my manager out to set things right. That did NOT happen. Instead, the server came right back and asked us, "In how many minutes do you think you'd like your entree?" Those were her exact words. Now think -- as a guest of a restaurant, have you EVER been asked that question? It's just not a question that should be asked -- shouldn't a restaurant should know how to time the delivery of food to the table???
So, 16 minutes later, our entrees were served, and they were good. I was expecting that my beef tenderloin would have been way overcooked, but it was exactly as I had ordered it, and so were the other entrees. Did they manage to keep them warm without overcooking them, or did they re-cook them...? We couldn't tell -- which is a good thing, I suppose.
Then came time for dessert. My son had ordered his dinner from the prix fixe Restaurant Week menu, which came with a dessert (which, by the way, the server insisted he order at the time he ordered the rest of his meal). Without being offered menus, we were asked if we wanted dessert. My husband and I both passed on dessert; my son had already ordered his. A short time later, our server came out with two desserts, each with lit candles -- one had a white chocolate wafer that said, "Happy Anniversary," the other had a wafer that said, "Happy Birthday." Both, the server said, were compliments of the restaurant. So my son asked where his dessert was. The server pointed to the "comped" anniversary dessert, which was the same as the dessert he had ordered earlier, and said, "It's right here." So we handed him his dessert, with the candle still burning.
The evening turned out to be one example after another of how a fine dining restaurant should NOT be run. My son insists that the coffee he was served was NOT the decaf he ordered. As a side note, we observed that a couple seated near us, who arrived about 20 minutes after we did, left about 20 minutes before we did -- and they also had apps, entree, dessert and coffee. So it wasn't just us who were on a "fast table turnaround" schedule. Despite all the accolades this restaurant has received, the evening was a disappointment for us. Fine dining is not about food alone -- it's about the entire experience, from the time you arrive until the time you walk out the door. To say we won't be returning to the Lone Eagle Grille is fairly meaningless, since we're from out of town. It's just a shame that considering the cost of our meal, this restaurant was such a disappointment.
That does sound disasterous! I absolutely hate to be rushed and find that it has increasingly become a problem. My husband and I have gotten to the point where we will order the apps and wine and wait until we are finished with the apps before we order the mains. It's ridiculous to have to do that but I find that if we don't we can be out in under an hour and it is just not relaxing especially when it is an expensive upscale place. Otherwise you can just go to Applebees or the like.
I would definitely contact management. I'm glad the food was good at least but I agree that the food is only one component of the overall fine dining experience. I'm also gald that you posted since I will be up that way in about a month and may have to reconsider dinner there.
Cindy, I'm so sorry for your miserable experience. If you wanted a view for a special occasion, I would've recommended Big Water Grille. If you were willing to drive 15 minutes, Wild Goose is right on the lake serving spectacular cuisine, with professional service. Baseballfan is spot on about Jackrabbit Moon. Another option, with no view but a great special occasion restaurant is Le Bisto, serving contemporary French.
I love the Hyatt. The setting is gorgeous. However, I recommend having a drink and possibly lunch in the bar, at a much better price. Take a pass on dinner.
We had several really wonderful and pleasant dining experiences while we were in Tahoe, Jack Rabbit Moon being one of them. I think it was my unmet expectations that caused me to be so disappointed with Lone Eagle. Yes, the setting was magnificent, and, in hindsight, there are several things I'd do differently if I could "rewind" that evening.