Two sub-par experiences in MidCoast ME.
I'm really not one to post reviews on Chow. I'm more of a lurker- doing my research, keeping tabs, and nodding my head in agreement. But I had to tell about two very disappointing experiences.
Both were lunches, and while we knew that we weren't looking for 5star lunches, we left feeling empty.
The first was at The Slipway. The service was awful- the host greeted us without so much as a smile, and didn't bring us a highchair, even though we asked for one. We wound up having to fetch it ourselves. We then had to wait for 10 minutes while we listened to the 2 waitpeople figure out who was going to get our table. The menu was small, and expensive. When I asked what was in the salad (which just read as 'greens') I was told that it had peppers, corn, cabbage, etc. Why didn't they put that on the menu?? It came out on a plate and I swear it held no more than 1 cup's worth of salad. The crab on top was excellent, although I did bite a shell. The rest of the food was tasty, yet the portions were small. We had to ask (and wait) for the check. And while I'm at it, I thought that the fact that this place had a wine list that was twice as long as it's menu was a little much.
The second lunch was at The Pearl. We walked in at 11:40, was told they didn't open until 12, but we could have a drink. I had a salty dog, and my husband had the world's worst mojito. We had to wait until 12 for menus. We ordered 6 oysters, and 6 littlenecks (one of which was bad), and had to wait 15 minutes for it. The waitress never came back to ask us how it was, or to even ASK us for our lunch order!! She actually came to the table w. our check in hand. I was fully ready to spend an afternoon, eating and grazing, but was so irritated that we left. We were 1 of maybe 4 tables there, and the owner was even there (working the bar), and not once did I feel taken care of. So we left and had some delicious burgers and root beer at Owl's Head Gen Store.
Service definitely seems to be the knock at The Slipway. I was there a couple weeks ago and the fried seafood was excellent...but service was apathetic at best. There are some expensive items on the menu, but my wife got the fish and chips which was I think around 10 bucks and that seemed to be a decent value. I got the seafood platter which ran closer to 20, but I didn't feel gipped since it was full of haddock, clams, oysters, and calamari.
They ended up charging my credit card for somebody else's bill, and it took 30 minutes (no exagerration) for it to get fixed...and I just looked at my statement and they didn't credit the full amount back. So....definitely some service quirks.
I'll go back for sure...service is one of those things that can be really hit or miss...hopefully the Slipway does what you do and lurks on these boards.
Too bad about the Pearl...I wish that place could get it's act together because it's such a cool spot. If you were indeed lurking these boards...you should have found many better places to get lunch (Lily Bistro, In Good Company, Rock City Cafe, Rustica, Bricks, etc etc etc).
In Good Company
415 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841
315 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841
I was there last week, for the 4th time, two dinner and two lunches. I truly enjoy the "lightly fried" approach Scott has with seafood and its my go to spot for haddock. I agree with MCM regarding the service problem. The waitstaff could do with a little training . The Slipway is not alone in this regard I have noticed more and more spotty service this summer. The new "LaBellaVita" at the Samoset could do with some serious training. As for the Pearl -- well , it's the Pearl. Normally if one is looking for restaurant information and cannot find a particular spot here , try the Trip Advisor -- the Pearl has been scoured there.
While we're pretty familiar w/ most of the area's restaurants, we were looking for waterfront, and thought that we'd give these 2 new spots a chance. As far as Trip Advisor goes, I'm pretty leary seeing as how all of the new places in Camden suddenly have loads of great reviews. I have a suspicions that some of them are bogus...And I agree, good service seems to be something that is lacking a quite a few places. I'm not sure it's the training, I think its more of a general attitude.
I've been following some of the stuff going on with TripAdvisor...they definitely need to figure out a better ranking algorithm. I'm not saying I know how, but something needs to be done to cut out the BS.
Personally, I don't like it when the mgmt of any restaurant listed on TripAdvisor responds to every bad critique, it just clues me in that they are hyper-tuned in to what's going on...and that COULD include posting bogus reviews.
The problem I've seen with places like 57 Bayview Bar & Bistro is that the old reviews from Ephemere are still showing up under the new place. I've alerted TripAdvisor to this issue, but getting a response from them is 50/50 at best.
On the flip side, some bogus reviews also don't pass the smell test -- I've been told by a local chef that he knows for sure that a previous employer was posting negative reviews about other establishments.
So, like anything (including Chowhound I might add) take it with a grain of salt and only use it as one part of your decision making process. Or, don't overanalyze and do what you did...try a place out and see how it goes....
Agree that the fried seafood is the absolute best but I'm afraid we had inconsistent service at The Slipway, too. They messed up our bill 3 times and while the staff were very pleasant they never apologised. They messed up our reservation, too, with no apology. It was like dealing with credit card customer service: never admit your mistakes. I've worked in restaurants and 4 screw ups deserve a long and sincere apology.
But most disappointing is that at the Dip Net, this chef's previous restaurant, the service was always GREAT! Not fawning but down to earth and very efficient. So what changed? Are there better trained wait staff available in Port Clyde than Thomaston? Or is the place just too big.
I haven't been to either place and these service issues appear to be, for the most part, unforgivable but I will throw in my thoughts anyway. I tend to cut seasonal places a LOT of slack when it comes to service, especially if they're not in the tourist hubs, i.e. Bar Harbor, Boothbay, Kennebunk, etc. Those towns can usually count on having their seasoned staff return year after year. There's actually a sizable group of "migrant" workers that will spend summers in Maine and then head south as soon as the last leaves fall off the trees for resorts in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. These people tend to be pretty good at their jobs.
Now, you take a new place in Thomaston and I think you're going to have a difficult time finding experienced staff for the first year or two and even then it would be very unfair to compare them with professionals who do these jobs full time. I'm sure the owner is aware of the service issues and next "season" will probably be better as his people either get more experience or slowly get replaced. Anyway, that's my theory on seasonal staff outside of tourist Mecca’s.