What's Up With Tempo in Waltham?
Saturday night. Early reservation. Not too crowded. Nice table. Good waitstaff. It's all good. Until the food arrives. This generally reliable bistro (local for us), turned out a truly bad night of food. We were a party of five adults, two very oldsters, but all with seasoned palates. Salads? Just ok. Pear & gorgonzola needed a touch more dressing. Dinners? Boneless spare ribs were surprisingly tough. Two of us ordered the steak special. Hers, asked for medium, came ultra-rare and had to be returned to the kitchen. Mine, asked for rare, was so poorly trimmed, that I exhausted myself trying to saw through sinew and gristle to get to about 2 inches worth of fat. Also pretty much raw rather than rare. Also had to be returned. Hoping for better results with dessert, our companion with a sweet tooth ordered the blonde brownie special with popcorn ice cream which the table discussed and decided was worth a try. The wrong dessert appeared and it wasn't until it was tasted that we discovered the error. By then, after a desultory dinner, we were all too tired and slightly cranky to wait to have the order replaced with the correct one although our kind waitress definitely offered. I saw the tab, picked up by my 91 year old Dad, and between drinks for three, two desserts, a little wine, one beer, and the offending steaks, he dropped just about $250 -- quite a lot for them. And way too much, in my humble opinion, for the kind of meal we were served. He was disappointed to have treated us all to such a disappointing meal. And so were we. It might have been just a bad night, but so many errors with no recognition of the lapeses in the subsequent check??? Meh. Won't be back soon.
Two of us went last night to try their "$7 Before 7" appetizers. When I arrived, the bar was crowded with 2 large parties waiting to be seated. We hovered by the door for the 15 minutes it took to get them seated, then snagged 2 seats at the still-busy bar. We ordered a drink each, then three of the appetizers: Philly steak and cheese spring rolls; shrimp and chorizo in a skillet; and mussels with Italian sausage and white wine broth.
Mussels were tasty (and only one unopened). Sausage pieces were a little large, but it was a satisfying dish. Shrimp and chorizo were very dry yet oily, but still edible. I preferred eating the small chorizo slices with the mussels, myself. Philly steak spring rolls were sliced in half lengthwise, which led to them being incredibly dried out.
The service was just as so-so as the food. Our wine and water glasses sat empty for long periods, and we had to flag the bartenders down for refills. Yes, the bar was busy, but a bartender should not actively seek to avoid eye contact with patrons. When we did interact with them, they were indeed friendly, but the painfully slow service was really frustrating. On our way out, the 2 hostesses did not even acknowledge nor thank us.
I enjoyed the vibe of the place (even though it was really quite loud at the bar), the decor, the idea of the menu (if not all the execution), and the discounted pricing. But I don't think I'll be back anytime soon - so-so food combined with so-so service? No thanks.