I've been lurking around the board for years and decided to take the plunge today & post.
Here's the situation: my fiance and I are planning a wedding reception and so have been trying out restaurants that would be appropriate for a 40-head lunchtime event. This has given us the opportunity to eat at places that are otherwise off our radar -- such as Jardiniere, which has received many positive reviews and is beloved by the symphony/opera/ballet crowd, but just hasn't ever been at the top of our list when we make plans to go out to eat.
Anyhoo. I woke up this morning thinking loudly "I can't believe we spent $250 on that meal!" The service was adequate. The portions were generous. The plating and decor are totally 90s. But the food was "nice" but so un-special, reminded me very much of an average catered wedding dinner, or average hotel food. (We had the charcuterie plate, escarole salad with slow-cooked egg, duck breast entree & lamb entree. Entrees were $36 & $38, respectively)
We like the location of Jardiniere for the wedding reception, and we like that we'd have the space to ourselves for lunch. I am just not sure that what we had at our meal was typical, or if it was an off-night.
I recall a recent post (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7496...) remarking that there has been some "chef-shuffling" at Jardiniere, but have not been able lo locate evidence of that on the boards or elsewhere. Would someone be able to point me towards those reports, or supply a report of their own?
I have liked Jardinere in the past, but also haven't been there for, gosh, maybe 8 years. The last meal I clearly remember there I loved the duck, but I now see the meal with a realization that it was late-90's san francisco food, which was pretty good, but not stellar. My standards have shifted a bit, and I don't go there just like I haven't been out to Boulevard in about 8 years either. There's just too many more exciting restaurants to go to.
For a while, I liked stopping in downstairs and get one of their port flights and a desert after eating somewhere else, but the deserts seemed, as you say, just less and less special. My favorite dessert right now is at Martin's West in RWC. They always have an interesting ice cream (like guiness ice cream), with a little wedge of butter/grahm cracker substance, and some kind of desert along with that.
Jardiniere is a "huh?" restaurant for me too. My experience was somewhat better than yours (I think it was 2 years ago) - if that were an average catered wedding dinner, I'd consider myself very lucky. It was probably on par with the best catered wedding dinner I've ever had (by a very expensive caterer who apparently does a lot of celebrity weddings). Well executed, big portions of safe food that's much more expensive than I'd consider reasonable for the style. I wouldn't go back for dinner, but I'd be psyched to go to a wedding reception there.
Thanks, this is helpful feedback. We've considered a number of other restaurants who do private dining and whose food is both far lovelier and less expensive, but the private dining spaces won't work (too small, no windows, poor sound control, etc.). I agree that Jardiniere is safe food, and from the perspective of hosting a wedding reception, which will include conservative family tastes, safe may not be a bad option.
I went to jardiniere about 8 or 9 months ago (for the first time in years) in a group of 4. I had the special pre-theater dinner of I think three courses and with the wine tasting I believe it was about $40. It was really good. While the portions were not huge I was more than satisfied. I don't remember what I ate (meant to post about it but didn't) but I do remember the dinner was delicious and a very good value. I can understand, however, that paying 3x the amount would have left me deeply unhappy.