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Culinariane: Overated and Very Underwhelming!!

s
sockster Sep 8, 2011 10:22 AM

I think sometimes when you have great expectations for a restaurant, and those expectations don't even come close to a reality, the let down of the situation becomes greater than it might have been if you didn't have high expectations..

We went to Culinariane with extremely high hopes. We were sat promptly at a wonderful table. It took a few minutes to get the wine glasses- No big deal at all. We had a bit of wine and ordered our meals. The amuse came out and was very nice. We were never served bread which was a bit bewildering.

I ordered their famous cornmeal crusted oysters. They came out of the kitchen cut in half!!! and lukewarm to put it mildly. When I told the owner, he apologized and said he'd be right back. In the meantime, my wife's tuna tartare was merely ok. When I asked the bus boy for bread (yes, we still weren't served bread), he brought over this breadbasket with three tiny croissants in them. And gave us the last three.....saying that was the end of them. I didn't realize he wasn't kidding.

When the owner brought back out the oysters, instead of a new order, they were the same oysters, reheated......are you kidding me?

On to the main courses. I ordered the pork chop. The server never asked me how I wanted it prepared, so it came out on the well done side...that said, the glaze was excellent and the pork chop was really good. My wife's skate on the other hand was a tasteless mess of a dish. When the owner inquired, she basically told him how she felt about the dish. He took it away and brought her an order of scallops- which were very good indeed.

We asked for more bread and were told "there is no more". WHAT??? A restaurant runs out of bread? The owner made the excuse that since we were the last table to be seated, why should they make more bread? Are you kidding? In all honesty, he knew we weren't happy about that, and when he brought out the new scallop dish, he did bring out three fresh croissants. Weird though.

We split a dessert which was nothing special, and got the check. Nothing was taken off...no apologizes given....they just really didn't care. The restaurant seemed to have no vibe....no passion.

In my opinion, this is another overated and underwhelming restaurant surrounded by their own hype. I would suggest to avoid this place and look elsewhere.

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Culinariane
33 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042

  1. tommy Sep 8, 2011 11:09 AM

    Was your expectation that they should have baked more bread for you?

    3 Replies
    1. re: tommy
      ttoommyy Sep 8, 2011 11:58 AM

      "Was your expectation that they should have baked more bread for you?"

      Seems like they did:

      "We asked for more bread and were told "there is no more". WHAT??? A restaurant runs out of bread? The owner made the excuse that since we were the last table to be seated, why should they make more bread? Are you kidding? In all honesty, he knew we weren't happy about that, and when he brought out the new scallop dish, he did bring out three fresh croissants. Weird though."

      1. re: ttoommyy
        tommy Sep 8, 2011 12:02 PM

        So they serve croissants and not bread? Do you think they baked those 3 croissants at that point? Seems very unlikely, although if they did they certainly went out of their way, probably because the customer was putting up a stink.

        Restaurants run out of bread. They run out of a lot of stuff. This shouldn't be a surprise.

        1. re: tommy
          ttoommyy Sep 8, 2011 12:09 PM

          They may have had them proofed and ready to hit the oven. Or maybe even pre-baked and just reheated. The idea is that at first they said "no" and then the croissants "magically" appeared. So the OP was not so wrong in expecting to be served bread.

    2. ttoommyy Sep 8, 2011 11:57 AM

      This is EXACTLY an example of how I feel about most restaurants in NJ. Maybe it's because I live in Hoboken and in the shadow of NYC where I mostly eat my meals out. Maybe not. But I feel a lot of NJ restaurants try to run a good race but barely make it to the finish line and stumble along the way. Like the OP's experience, some dishes are good and others are terrible. Then you get a "no, we don't have that" and only after showing disappointment, you "magically' get what you asked for (in the OP's case, the croissant). I had a similar experience at Bistro Satis in Jersey City. Others rave about the place, but my experience was like sockster's at Culinariane.

      -----
      Culinariane
      33 Walnut St, Montclair, NJ 07042

      1. b
        bifpocaroba Sep 8, 2011 12:26 PM

        This seems odd. I have been here many times and have never ever had an experience even close to this. Matter of fact, I know a lot of people that frequent there and never heard a bad word uttered. Michael and Ariane are amongst the most professional owners and Chefs I've met in my hundreds of dining experiences. I'd wouldn't cross it off the list so easily.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bifpocaroba
          s
          sockster Sep 8, 2011 01:53 PM

          No offense meant here, but if I ran my business like Michael was concerned about our problems last night, I'd be closed pretty darn quickly. He really didn't care. If he did, I'd have no problem sharing that in this forum.

        2. p
          Picnicchef Sep 8, 2011 02:13 PM

          In defense...this is a very slow week for restaurants...back to school, bad weather. My bet? They had ordered less croissant than usual because they did not want to waste any with the low expectation of covers. When you complained, perhaps they took some out of the freezer and reheated...I have run out of many things...it happens. If you are going to keep things fresh and not freeze and not serve two day old fish, whatever, you have to take a guess at how many people are coming, ordering different things. Restaurants are run by people, who are human, and who occasionally misjudge the evening. As to nothing being taken off the check? Over a croissant? The reality is that a BYO maybe nets $5 or $6 on your plate, if they are lucky. If they comp over a piece of bread, they fed you at cost, or at a loss. Just my personal insight.

          1. s
            scarlet knight Sep 8, 2011 02:42 PM

            We've eaten at this restaurant quite a few times since it opened and before it was "famous." we find it to be one of the best restaurants in northern NJ. I recommend the OP give it another chance.

            1. The Chowhound Team Sep 12, 2011 06:15 AM

              We've moved a digression about being asked how you would like your pork prepared to http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806702

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