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Braise...oh my...

amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 12:02 PM

Braise -
Sigh. Seriously, I wanted to come on this board and say great things about my evening out at Braise, yet I honestly can’t. I waited and thought over the weekend on whether I wanted to do this or not.

We walked into this tiny restaurant Groupon in hand and were told there was a “special menu” for the Groupon. Okay, prix fixe menu. No worries and was pretty much expected. But then we sat and sat…and sat; no water, no contact, no nothing. There were only three other tables and there were six waiters that we counted for sure and two other people behind the bar (managers?). We watched as food came out and “wandered” around the dining room, only to go back without finding its diner.

After about ten minutes, we were finally approached with a wine list. We asked for water and our waiter left. Eventually, we were served water and served “focaccia” bread with oil and vinegar. The strange thing is we were specifically told by the server it was “rosemary focaccia” but it was just white yeast bread. It was perfectly fine bread, but it was clearly NOT focaccia. Just odd.

Wine: Third time’s a charm. I’m sorry I can’t remember the choices we made now (we went on Friday, and I’m just now writing), but we made our first choice, a mid-range red, and the waiter went off and came back to tell us they were out of that wine and suggested another red that was the more expensive. We didn’t select that one, but picked another nice middle of the road red. Again, off he went and AGAIN came back said they were out of that wine too. Okay, these are on your menu: You should have them in stock. So, on the third try we got one of the more expensive reds which, surprise, was in stock.

On to the food. Not a lot of options – one soup, one salad and two pork dishes, a chicken, but no fish.

For appetizers, husband got the andouille sausage with grits and I got the sashimi. Oh my… His grits were thin to the point of watery and my sashimi was presented a la “Kitchen Nightmares” hacked (large ribbons, short-fat cubes) on a scallop shell on a paper doily on a large plate.

Next came the potato leek soup, served with the doily/large plate accoutrement. While the flavor was fine, the texture was non-uniformly grainy; there were tough pieces of undercooked potato and leek and little hard seeds we couldn’t identify.

For the main course, I chose the pork chop and asked for it medium rare. Our waiter then informed us that all the pork was pre-cooked to well. Pre-cooked? As in not right now? Yes. Yikes… but the only other choice was the chicken (which my husband already picked) and another pork dish. My pork chop was indeed pre-cooked to well. I only had a few bites and gave up. My husband’s chicken was disappointing too, dry and bland. He called the waiter over and asked when the chicken was made and was told that it was made daily but not fresh for each dinner order (a.k.a. it was pre-cooked as well.)
Bread pudding was just very dense, semi-sweet bread and was so cold that the ice cream that was served on top (Amy’s Ice Cream) wouldn’t melt. Also, the chocolate was bitter.
Okay, I really hate giving bad reviews.

Really, I do. But at some point this stopped being comical and started being sad; no?

Fred the manager/chef came by. He just approached us, said “There’s just no excuse and I’d like you to try us again,” and gave us a $50 certificate. Our bill without the Groupon would have been about $130. I appreciate the gesture, but I don’t think we’ll be using it.

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  1. s
    singlemalt RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 12:44 PM

    How gross. What a wierd experience. BTW, I understand the guy that owns Braise (isn't he the guy that had the restaurant on Congress burn down?)no longer owns Simplicitiy. Not even sure Simplicity is open. Thanks, ASH, we need more of this kind of thing. There is too much good stuff in Austin without tolerating the crap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: singlemalt
      amysuehere RE: singlemalt Dec 27, 2011 03:40 PM

      That's what I thought, that it was the same folks as Jezebel and that place was spectacular, I just hated going downtown.

    2. dinaofdoom RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 12:52 PM

      i don't recall the groupon being a set menu.
      usually it's super specific in the deal.
      otherwise, you're supposed to be able to order whatever you want.

      1. c
        chrisdds98 RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 02:40 PM

        maybe I'm too cynical but I think if you didn't use the groupon the other wines would have been available and you would have gotten cooked to order food.

        i've only been to braise once several months ago and it was decent. nothing spectacular, but pretty good for the price point.

        11 Replies
        1. re: chrisdds98
          amysuehere RE: chrisdds98 Dec 27, 2011 03:36 PM

          But isn't the point of a coupon/groupon to lure folks into trying your place and impressing them enough to want to come back? I know several of my "finds" have been found this way.

          1. re: amysuehere
            rudeboy RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 05:40 PM

            I never present a groupon or a coupon until they pick up the dinner plates. There's no reason to tell them ahead of time. Saves from being put into the"groupon people" category. I suppose that you would have gotten into an argument at the end of the meal (regarding the special menu), but if you stick to your guns......

            When I waited tale eons ago at City Grill, you could spot the coupon people a mile away. Two waters, two meals (one free), and a poor tip...all the time knowing that they'd never come back w/o the coupon. However, we served them as if they were regular patrons. The refined coupon person just sees it as an opportunity to "order up." Meaning better wine, or an appetizer that you'd normally not order.

            The special menu for Groupon people shows bad ethics.

            Amysue, you can mail me that $50 gift cert if you don't want it....;-)

            1. re: rudeboy
              amysuehere RE: rudeboy Dec 28, 2011 07:35 AM

              If you still have my email address, it's yours.

              1. re: rudeboy
                s
                singlemalt RE: rudeboy Dec 28, 2011 08:12 AM

                "City Grill" Boy, that one takes me back. We used to eat there all the time. It seems they had constant coupons. Maybe you even waited on us one time. For the record, I always tip on the full check, and I tip better if my wife isn't with me. For the record.

                1. re: singlemalt
                  rudeboy RE: singlemalt Dec 28, 2011 02:37 PM

                  Could be - I loved working there. We made lots of $ - $16 to $18 per hour, which was great in 1991. I stopped working there when I got my degree in Jan 92.

                  1. re: singlemalt
                    k
                    klanch RE: singlemalt Jan 5, 2012 12:51 PM

                    I ate there several times. The only thing I remember is an appetizer of backed chevre with a tart tomato sauce and olives. That may sound gross but it tasted wonderful.

                    The building is currently occupied by something called the Palm Door. Anyone know what that is.

                    1. re: klanch
                      i
                      ieathereforeiam RE: klanch Jan 10, 2012 10:54 AM

                      pretty sure its a catering hall/ event space.

                2. re: amysuehere
                  dinaofdoom RE: amysuehere Dec 28, 2011 08:48 AM

                  you're right, amysue. that is theoretically what deals hope to accomplish.
                  and while i have seen some deals for a specific prix fixe type menu, it is always clearly outlined in the deal.
                  if it wasn't, then they violated the T&C and should probably be reported.
                  that kind of behavior really irks me-- don't offer a deal if you can't fulfill it.

                  1. re: amysuehere
                    c
                    chrisdds98 RE: amysuehere Dec 28, 2011 10:32 AM

                    google "groupon nightmare". most grouponers are 1 time customers that restaurants pay a premium for. pretty counterintuitive if you ask me. almost time to short groupon stock?

                    1. re: chrisdds98
                      dinaofdoom RE: chrisdds98 Dec 28, 2011 10:45 AM

                      i guess i'm the opposite.
                      usually, i buy deals for places i already love and frequent, or want to try (and almost always continue going back, unless they were a complete failure).

                      1. re: dinaofdoom
                        amysuehere RE: dinaofdoom Dec 28, 2011 10:54 AM

                        I'm a mix. If there's been I place that's been on the radar, but still haven't made it, I'll get one. If it's a favorite, I'll buy as well.

                        On the that it was prix fixe, that was the least of the concerns and the least thing I wanted to highlight. I only mentioned it to add the lack of choice.

                        I'm not sure I was treated any differently than the other diners because of the coupon, because then why would he then come and give me another $50?

                        Donno what to make of the whole experience. I guess that's why I waited to make the review.

                3. c
                  cashhh RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 09:40 PM

                  I had the same experience at Braise a few weeks ago. I bought the groupon for me and my family to have my graduation dinner at. I really wish I could get my 100 bucks back. The waitstaff was very awkward and just really rubbed me the wrong way. One guy who picked up our plates and refilled drinks was so rude and pretty much yelled at me to tell me that the bathrooms were down the outside hall. The food was a miss. My dad got the brussel sprouts and portobella dinner plate and there was only a tiny sliver of mushroom and a couple of sprouts. I had the pork shoulder that tasted exactly like my moms pork roast she used to make in the crock pot that I really can't stand. My mom had trout and spehgetti that was okay, really acidic and upset her stomach. My boyfriend had the pork chop and it was cooked well done, but he likes it that way. All of the apps were forgettable. It took them 30 minutes to bring out our desserts and we had already ordered some coffee so my dad asked if they could refill due to the slow dessert, I assumed that it would be a free coffee but nahhh still charged us another $10. I just wanted to take my parents out to experience "fine dining" but it ended up being a bust.

                  1. bubbleboy79 RE: amysuehere Dec 27, 2011 10:49 PM

                    When I went, ages ago, Braise didn't yet have its liquor license, which was actually great as it allowed us to discover East End Wines. The meal was uneven, but what I still recall is the cheese plate, its borderline inedible accoutrements, and the inability of anyone to tell us what any of the cheeses were or anything about them. I want to give Braise another chance (my meal wasn't bad, just not especially good), but there are so many quality restaurants (Fabi & Rosi, Olivia, Second, et al.) at a similar price point, that I still haven't made it back.

                    1. k
                      korikoritx RE: amysuehere Dec 28, 2011 09:08 AM

                      I purchased a groupon for Braise as well that I used back in November, and it was specifically descibed as being for the four-course tasting menu. I wasn't overwhelmed by the food or the ambiance, but the service was solid when I was there and I didn't feel any "groupon stigma." I thought it was a pretty good value for $50 for two. A reasonable way to try the place, though I honestly doubt I'll make it back there again. Too many other good places to try...

                      1. tom in austin RE: amysuehere Dec 28, 2011 10:17 AM

                        I visited Braise's website and it makes no mention of the executive chef Parind Vora. I'm guessing he checked out completely -- has his hands full preparing the return of Jezebel and his new triple-restaurant concept. http://austin.eater.com/archives/2011...

                        I'm a big fan of Parind's cooking, and he has remarkable pride in his work, so I wouldn't be surprised if he has informally disavowed Braise.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tom in austin
                          amysuehere RE: tom in austin Jan 18, 2012 07:17 AM

                          Tom,

                          Parind emailed me with an explanation of what's going on. Looks like he isn't the head chef at Braise, but has hired one (Fred) and is directing him on the menu. Here's hoping they get the kinks out or that he comes back to his former glory and he does all the cooking at the new incarnation of Jezabel.

                        2. t
                          txgrl99 RE: amysuehere Jan 9, 2012 09:49 PM

                          I just got back from using our Groupon at Braise and had an overall nice experience. Two of us started with the sausage and grits, which were extremely flavorful. I did not find the grits to be watery at all, so maybe they changed them up? My sister and BIL had the sashimi. I didn't try it, but it looked lovely and they liked it quite a bit (we're big fans of Uchi, so we're not completely clueless about sashimi.). I had the pumpkin bisque for a second. It was strong, but rich and really lovely. I can't say too much about the entree. I've been fighting a mad case of food poisoning and had pretty much reached my maximum capacity at that point. Still, I liked my brussell sprouts and mushrooms well enough to take them home. Everyone else devoured their entrees. Desserts were the only weak spot. I thought neither the pineapple upside down cake nor the chocolate chip bread pudding were very inspired or unique. Service was competent, and I didn't feel any groupon stigma. Was it Uchi or Parkside? No. Is it a place I'll try again when I want a casual tasty meal? Absolutely. All four of us agreed we'd definitely go back. I'm sorry you had a bad experience amysue, and I'm grateful we didn't repeat.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: txgrl99
                            amysuehere RE: txgrl99 Jan 10, 2012 02:14 PM

                            You're welcome to my $50 certificate he gave me.

                            1. re: amysuehere
                              t
                              txgrl99 RE: amysuehere Jan 11, 2012 11:29 AM

                              Thanks, amysue! That is really kind of you. How is the best way for us to exchange info?

                              1. re: txgrl99
                                amysuehere RE: txgrl99 Jan 12, 2012 12:51 PM

                                amysueherexo@yahoo

                          2. l
                            Lucky_Skunk RE: amysuehere Jan 12, 2012 08:08 AM

                            Don't feel bad about a bad review.

                            .......especially for a place that is selling itself as fine dining, but pre-cooks their meat entrees.

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