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Loved the food at Hatfields, BUT....

We went to Hatfield's the other night to enjoy a speciall meal -- and, of course, to eat one last foie gras dish. (Sorry, PETA.)

So allow me to state that the food was excellent. Our foie gras appetizers were truly YUMMY -- and the server suggested an oustanding pairing wine (a dry Reisiling, I believe -- and I don't normally like Reising!).

Next, we both had fish dishes to offset the richness of the foie gras. (In the "old days," we might have shared the Foie Gras, but these days leading to July 1 had both of us orderng the FG.) I'll repeat -- the foie gras was SO good, so well prepared.

As for fish, one of us had the branzino; the other, the salmon.

Dessert did not apeal to us -- sorry but I really was not in the mood for Black Pepper Ice Cream or Tarragon Sorbet. (Why oh why ..?? -- but I digress.)

Here's the gripe (or the "big but" as PeeWee Herman once said) -- While our waiter was perfectly cordial, if I'm going to eat at a place like Hatfield's -- or anyplace that runs about $100 per person -- I do not need to be told that the "little appetizers" with "little spoons" that came out as we sat down were compliments of the chef. We KNOW what an "amuse bouche" is!

Later, I asked our server to describe the fish items on the menu. Honest to God, he said that "salmon is a deep pink, heavier fish" -- no kidding! I meant, describe the preparation, the taste..!!

I'm thinking maybe the serving staff has been instructed to do this..?? I don't think we looked like McRib eaters (not that there's anything wrong with that!!! Me, I love Tommy's) -- but it was patronizing and. condescending -- and I know what those words mean.

That about covers it. We had been debating between Hatfield's and Animal -- ya think we should have gone Animal..??

I appreciate anyone's input or shared experience. Thank you!

ps) The mild white branzino and the deep pink salmon were delicious as well!

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  1. I ate at the bar this weekend, had only the foie gras and the croque madame. The bartender was pleasant and knowledgeable and not at all condescending. Perhaps you just got an overly patronizing waiter. It is just a sample size of one.

    (I also went to Animal this weekend, sat at the bar, had their foie gras dish with the maple sausage biscuit and the pig tails. The bartender there was likewise pleasant, knowledgeable, and not condescending. The atmosphere is definitely more casual.)

    1. i'm missing something here. nothing the server did seems anything close to out of line to me.

      1. I think you are just being hyper sensitive. You may know what an amuse bouche is, but I bet that for every one of you, there are also one that says "huh? we didn't order this."

        Yeah the comment about the salmon was from the Captain Obvious files, but still not out of line imo. I guess it depends on how you worded the question. If you asked him how the salmon was prepared and that's the answer he gave you, then yeah, that's a little odd. But if it was a more general question like "tell me about the salmon?", I dont' think any harm was done.

        Anyways, the important thing is that you enjoyed your meal.

        1. uhhh... yeah. With all due respect, susiequeue, based on your description, it sounds like you are the one "in the wrong" to be upset about most of this stuff.

          It's pretty darn standard for the server to say "these are compliments of the chef" when they bring out the amuse bouches. In fact, pretty much every time I've been served amuse bouches, that is what they say. On what basis would that be insulting?

          With regards to the dessert selections, one reason you go out to upscale places is to try something different. I'm not saying whether that dish would be good, and trust me, in general I like old-fashioned desserts (e.g., a good ol' hot fudge sundae) more than esoteric restaurant desserts but the attitude with which you describe the desserts makes you seem a little... sheltered or something. If you went to Denny's and they had that, then yeah, that would be weird. But at an upscale restaurant, you can't be surprised by the fact that the pastry chef is trying something different. Once again, it might not be good, but your disgust at it seems to make you seem provincial (and, sometimes you can be surprised--I just ate at Del Posto in New York where I got a dessert with celery sorbet, figs, and goat cheese, and it actually was totally delicious!!)

          I'll grant you the one about the salmon. If you asked him to describe the dish, then, yes, he should explain how it is prepared rather than actually describing the fish itself (unless it is a more unknown fish). But once again, you could just say, "no, I meant describe the dish itself, not the salmon," laugh it off, and move on, rather than feel personally slighted...

          3 Replies
          1. re: film_score

            Based on the OP's account, it wasn't just that the waiter explained that the amuse were compliments of the chef. If that was it, then I think that would have been fine. We can't hear the tone that the waiter used when explaining them, but the part about the "little appetizers" with "little spoons" sounded rather patronizing to me.

            Even if the OP looked like McRib eaters (heh), how the waiter spoke to them was still condescending, and without any educational value. Consider the difference between what it seems that the waiter said:

            "These little appetizers with the little spoons are compliments of the chef."

            and a potentially more instructive and in my opinion less belittling rephrasing:

            "Here we have some amuse-bouche, single serving appetizers, compliments of the chef."

            While the latter may still annoy those in the know, at least it would be instructive to those who were unaware of what an amuse-bouche is. Whereas the former just seems like the waiter is talking down to the customer.

            1. re: PeterCC

              I think this is much ado about nothing. I think it is rather kind of a server to say that the appetizer was compliments of the chef. Not everyone is so-o sophisticated that they will feel demeaned by a simple explanation of either A. the "little appetizers" or B. the description of the salmon. Perhaps, the server was describing the texture and/or preparation of the salmon. SO WHAT?
              I would rather be informed than uninformed. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your meal. At the end of the day, it's dinner.

              1. re: maudies5

                I'm not saying I would have been offended as the OP was, but I can see where she was coming from, though apparently I'm the only one (so far at least).

          2. Yeah, I think this is being a wee bit picky. I would find the spoon comment kind of endearing. Same with the comment about "compliments of the chef." We've been to Hatfield's twice and found the service to be attentive and knowledgeable.

            1. Been to Hatfield's at least 8-10 times. If I recall correctly they usually refer to the amuse as "compliments of the chef" and not "amuse bouche". I don't think it was meant to belittle the OP.

              I agree with TailbackU's take on things.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Porthos

                Looks like I'm the minority on this, along with the OP, but I want to clarify that I don't think the waiter had to call them amuse-bouche. If he had just said "These are compliments of the chef", that, to me, would have been better than adding the "little appetizers" and the "little spoons". With those two additions, I could easily hear him end with "little lady". *shrug*

                1. re: PeterCC

                  It's not like he called the OP a d-head or anything like that ;-)

                  1. re: Porthos

                    LOL! That's because she didn't tell him she wanted to wait to have the amuse bouche until she saw the menu.

                    (For those not in the know: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/853113)

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      Don't know if that thread needs more responses!

              2. The comment about the salmon was pretty outrageous, but it sounds like it may have been a case of a poorly educated, rather than an intentionally condescending waiter. If he was being a smart ass, then it would be something to complain about.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MarkC

                  While I'm guessing that had we been there, the waiter's full comments and tone would have seemed either condescending or (I agree with MarkC) not well-informed, I have to say that as reported even the comments about the salmon doesn't seem bad to me. Waiters encounter a wide range of customers with an amazingly wide range of experience and knowledge, and if someone asks to have the fish described, sometimes they want the fish described, and contrasted with the other fish. If the customer wants to know how the salmon is prepared one, way to find out is to ask that question, rather than asking the waiter to describe the fish items.

                  And I don;t think I've ever had an amuse bouche without being tol it was compliments of the chef. I imagine if restaurants don;t, more than half the time there is a long exchange to the effect that "we didn't order this, and we aren't going to pay for this."

                  But as I say, I suspect that my disagreement with susiequeue has more to do with the fact that I wasn't there, rather than reacting differently had I been there. On the other hand, I'd have definitely had the tarragon sorbet.

                2. Leave the snark for Yelp and focus on the food. I wasn't there so I'm not going to pass judgment one way or the other on the waiter's behavior but it does sound a bit nick picky to me. I think there's a world of difference between Hatfields and Animal and both certainly co-exist nicely in my world. I love the ambiance of Hatfields over Animal and I love the food more at Animal (because I'm a carnivore). That said, I have had at least five great meals at Hatfields (both places combined) and I will certainly go back expecting a sixth.

                  1. I want to thank Peter CC; he's the only one who understood my annoyance. I told you (repeatedly) that the food was delicious. I also said the server was cordial, which he was. But "little appetizers" and "little spoons"? C'mon. And salmon is "a deep pink heavier fish" -- really??

                    You may think (out there) that this is a "little thing" and maybe it is. And we did have a great dinner and would return.

                    But I just think this "little" practice should be adjusted.

                    ( PS - It DID feel like "little lady" was indeed next.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: susiequeue

                      Just because people don't agree doesn't mean they don't understand. It could be simply a matter of different tolerance levels or expectations.

                      My experience with the service at Hatfield's was that it was perfectly adequate (meaning good) for a fine dining restaurant. It didn't wow me (I don't know if any place in this city has), but there was nothing wrong with it either. What you described I would rate as slightly lower, but not enough to raise a fuss about. Especially the salmon thing - maybe he misunderstood your question. People make such simple, obvious, stupid mistakes all the time. I'm going again in a few days; let's see what kind of service I receive then.

                    2. I had an amazing meal at Hatfield's last week. Truly incredible. Considering the fact that some waiters are obnoxious or even ignore you - this waiter does not sund too bad.

                      1. I agree with the others. The server seemed to do his job correctly. Perhaps you left out some small details in your post. It is polite to say that the amuse is compliments of the kitchen, standard practice for a fine dining establishment. They are trained to treat everyone exactly the same.

                        That being said, Hatfield's or Animal. The cooking at Hatfield's is more careful and delicate, althought the atmosphere is a bit dull. Flavors are more subtle. Animal is more in your face cooking, but at times food can be a bit of a let down (like the sriracha that is heavily used on the $40 loco moco). The service is also inconsistent, either really fast or really slow. Both restaurants have the occasional glimpse of genius, but I prefer the more casual Animal. It's more memorable and unique.

                        1. Sounds to me that the server was being more helpful than condescending. Just b/c it's a fine dining establishment, doesn't mean the price weeds out the riff raff. Not sure what stopped you from saying something like, "We're Chowhounds, we love salmon" or something like that. The waiter would have most likely understood immediately.