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Nov 29, 2010 09:48 PM

Chez (aka Chez Pierre)- Tallahassee.... in a word: awful.

Let me start by saying that I don't do this- in that I don't post negative reviews of restaurants. I leave that to others, and I just don't go back when I've had a bad experience. But Chez, aka Chez Pierre was very likely the worst restaurant experience I've had since I can recall.

We arrived, and nice hostess arranged a table for our party of five- thank you! Very attractive space. Also, very nice waitress came over to take a drink order, and we ordered a bottle of the St. Hilare sparkling wine. We shortly received the wine in the bucket........ no glasses, bottle unopened.

After 15 minutes, one of us went to the bar to ask for glasses. Glasses were brought, and the bartender who delivered them left..........

So, we took matters into our own hands, which went unnoticed. Opened and poured the wine, and carried on.

FYI- there was one waitress on the floor- she was really running hard. I don't blame her for the mis-steps that follow.

Ordered the appetizers for the table: The Oui Oui Shimp (with the phonetic "Wee Wee" spelled out, which is both a little gross), and the Calamari Fries. The Calamari was okay, but obviously grabbed in handfuls from a bag and dropped into the fryer, because that's how it arrived- large amorphous blobs of fried something. Few separate "fingers", lots of conglomerates. But interestingly, not poorly cooked. Tender, and while devoid of seasoning, edible, but not worth finishing between 5 people. We were reminded of that phrase "the food was terrible, but at least there was plenty of it!"

The shrimp were completely flavorless. Underseasoned, and no salt and pepper on any tables. Occasional shells helped with the gummy texture. Please understand the sarcasm there.

We wished, at this point, that we had not ordered main courses, because we had little hope for what was to come.

Mains fared not much better- they were out of frites for the steak frites. Needless to say, this means "out of the frozen potatoes that we pass for frites". Two of the party ordered the lamb burger. One came raw. Not rare- but cold, raw meat paste with slight cooking on the outside, and completely un-warmed more than a millimeter from the surface. The other lamb burger was cooked as ordered. huh.

Also, to be fair, the med-rare steak of the aforementioned steak frites was pronounced to be perfectly cooked. But no frites meant a sub of soggy house-made chips which went un-eaten. My trout almondine was pretty good- browned butter, almonds.... no complaints from me on this.

But back to the rawburger. Waitress offered to take back, and the diner was generous- just toss this one of the flame for a few more minutes, don't bother with a new one, etc. She took the burger and left the sides.

15 minutes later, she returns with the burger in a basket. Yes, a plastic open-weave basket like you get at a place where you bus your own table and leave the basket on top of the trash can. And this burger, while cooked, is not conducive to being eaten from a basket. We were told that the kitchen was "out of plates". Really? A half-full restaurant is out of plates?

This is where I got angry. I walked back to the kitchen. I saw PLATES of many shapes stacked in the kitchen ready to have food placed upon them, and my friend has been cutting up a messy burger IN A PLASTIC BASKET.

I ask for the manager. He comes over, and passes the buck on everyone, but never once claims any responsibility for anything. He had walked through the restaurant while we were there, and despite frantic hand-waving for his attention, had paid us no heed while he examined the ceiling while poor Renee ran ragged. I asked him why we had this stupid basket served as a replacement. He blamed others.

This manager finally, and angrily, comped the basket burger. This was not the point at all.

The manager, Santos, was hostile, argumentative and unfriendly. He kept saying "I'll have your check brought out and you can leave".... really? You'll let us leave? How generous. We can't bloody wait.

This whole experience was dismal and frustrating. I felt bad for the over-worked and under-supported waitress, and completely ticked at the useless and terrible manager, who's job is, it seems, to stroll the room without looking at customers, and then blame problems on the taxed staff.

So where is a person to eat in Tallahassee? Good food and pride in what you are doing required, attitude not. :D

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  1. Try Sage over on McClay across from Premier. Only open for dinner in the weekends, though.
    We've always had good food and good service at Food Glorious Food. do the patio or the old space. But some on this board don't care for it.
    Cypress over on Tennessee by the Captial One building features locally grown food. Reviews are mixed but even the worst is better tha CP.
    Masa and Azu, the two Lucy Ho places will typically have good service and quality food.
    Siam Sushi int he North Canopy shopping Center off Monroe has great Thai food and reasonably prompt service.
    Some folks like Zbardhi's out in Kilearn lakes. Upscale Italian.
    Ala Provence (might be under a new name?) in the Market Square center is suppose to serve good food, but a recent last minute drop in had us heading toward Kitchkos across the parking lot for sushi as ALP looked dead (one table occupied) at 7:30PM on a Thursday. but the Lounge next door has great martini's!!!

    Lucy Ho's
    500 Prime Outlets Blvd Ste 520, Saint Augustine, FL 32084

    1001 N Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32303

    6 Replies
    1. re: crewsweeper

      x2 on Sage, I had a miserable experience at FGF, Cypress has been great the last couple times I was there, and I really enjoyed Mockingbird Cafe and Hop & Vine for lunch.

      1. re: askdrtodd

        Thanks to both of you for the recommendations. I have also head good things about Cypress. The sad thing was that we always want to support local, non-chain places, but this was just pathetic.

        The good thing is that we've been laughing about how absurdly bad the manager was all day.

        1. re: cheesemonger


          I wouldn't feel defensive about giving Chez Pierre a negative review. We all like to be cheerleaders for the good places we find, but sometimes a negative review is not only necessary, but absolutely appreciated by everyone else who reads these boards. This wasn't some borderline situation where you think, "Well, maybe I'd better wait, come back, and see if it happens again." The experience you described certainly needed to be flagged.

          Also, if one reads these boards for a while, he/she becomes aware of the very few always (or almost always) negative reviewers and discounts their reviews accordingly. I've read many of your other posts and you are not one of them. Thanks for taking the time and the energy to tell the rest of us about your experience.

          1. re: cheesemonger

            I can remember 20 years ago eating a Chez Pierre when I was in grade school (I grew up in Tally) and trying escargot for the first time (and thinking it was "yucky" haha). It was an institution for quite some time but is now a drinking hang out for frat boys from what I can tell. Shame.

            1. re: askdrtodd

              Although I haven't eaten at CP for years (never really had a great meal there except for a decent salad at lunch), I want to say that I appreciate the honest review. The negative ones are few and far between but they are very helpful.

              So thanks, cheesemonger.

          2. re: askdrtodd

            I as well have enjoyed Mockingbird Cafe. Friendly staff, great food and service, and a great live music venue too. Try it!