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Disappointment at Paul K

stebro Oct 6, 2010 09:40 AM

We made a 5:30 reservation at Paul K and told the waiter we had to be out by 7:00 to attend the opera. The appetizers arrived promptly. We then waited about 35-40 minutes with no sign of our main courses. People who arrived at the same time and even after us were getting their orders and we were still waiting. The waiter came over and said it would just be a minute. Ten minutes later, I approached the waiter who was talking to the chef at the counter by the open kitchen. The chef said our orders were cooking. I told him that we placed our order an hour ago. He shrugged his shoulders and walked away. I spoke to the manager, who went to check, and eventually our orders arrived--an hour and ten minutes after we were seated and twenty minutes before we had to leave. The food was good but Instead of a relaxed dinner with time for coffee and desert, we ate quickly and paid the bill. The waiter--who we know from prior visits and who is great-- told us that he had decided to comp our half bottle of wine--a nice gesture. On the way out, I told the manager that we were regular customers (we've been to Paul K 15-20 times) but that something was very wrong and needed to be fixed. He said "you're right but I don't know what I can do about it." How about a sincere apology (which we never got)? How about finding out what caused the problem and fixing it?

I understand that mistakes can happen, but the lack of response and the clueless, helpless attitude gave me no confidence that anyone really cared. Sorry, Paul K, there are too many other choices to come back.

Paul K Restaurant
199 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102

  1. b
    billraymond Feb 9, 2012 02:12 PM

    If I got $5 for everytime I had a bad experience in San Francisco and didn't receive an apology, I would be a very rich man. People say things like "I will comp you for this" (rare) or "I wish I could do something" or "Have a great evening" but so rarely do you just get a sincere apology.

    Getting off the soapbox, I had a similar experience at Paul K about a year ago and never came back.

    1. Robert Lauriston Feb 9, 2012 08:35 AM

      The Chron reports that Paul K has been bought by Evan and Sarah Rich of Coi and Chefs' Night Off and will close for remodeling at some point, though it remains open for now.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        singleguychef Feb 9, 2012 10:46 AM

        That Chron report was really one sided, telling only the story about the Richs' purchase and plans. But it never went into explaining what happened to Paul K's current owners and why they sold and whether they're moving on to opening somewhere else. It's been awhile since I've dined there, but it's been there a long time so people might be curious, especially since it's going to remain open for now.

      2. m
        mdg Oct 10, 2010 10:53 PM

        Sorry to hear about your experience, but everybody can make a mistake. Comping your wine seems like a reasonable apology to me - it's the type of response I'm looking for in that type of situation.

        We had dinner there last night and the cooking seems to us to be better than ever. The seafood stew is reliably wonderful. The Syrian duck breast has been on the menu in some form for ages, but the current rendition with spelt and dates was the best ever. The grilled Gravenstein and cucumber appetizer was unexpected and delicious, and the halibut / avocado / tomato appetizer was likewise outstanding.

        In this neighborhood for pre-symphony, there are not a lot of choices with better price/performance than paul K.


        1 Reply
        1. re: mdg
          stebro Oct 11, 2010 09:33 PM

          The decision to comp our wine at Paul K seemed to be the waiter's. That was nice and he was doing his best to get our order but the kitchen wouldn't cooperate. It's the kitchen and the management that I fault for not caring. Here are some alternatives in the neighborhood that we have enjoyed. First, Absinthe has been very good. We went there last week and it was everything that Paul K should have been--attentive service, friendly staff and excellent food. They also have a great wine list. Absinthe has become our favorite restaurant in the area. Sauce (which is next to Paul K) can be very good. We noticed some new restaurants in the neighborhood, including a Thai restaurant and a new place where Breezy's used to be, across the street from Absinthe. Don't know how good they are but we'll check them out.

          Paul K Restaurant
          199 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102

        2. singleguychef Oct 7, 2010 10:36 AM

          Sounds like they misplaced the ticket for your table or skipped it. Looks like a problem in the kitchen that the chef, when you mentioned it, should have addressed.

          I haven't been to Paul K for a very long time. I always liked their vibe but this does give me pause, considering all the other great options around the neighborhood (i.e, Bar Jules, Jardiniere, etc.)

          Paul K Restaurant
          199 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102

          Bar Jules
          609 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          1 Reply
          1. re: singleguychef
            klyeoh Oct 10, 2010 11:07 PM

            That's what I thought, too - a misplaced ticket. And it's frustrating indeed to be taken for granted.

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