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Your worst Boston area restaurant experience

A recent posting about a bad experience at Taqueria Mexico in Waltham reminded me of an experience we had a few years ago that we still shake our heads in disbelief when the restaurant is mentioned.

About 7 or 8 years ago, my wife was given a gift certificate to Bernards in Chestnut Hill. Living fairly close, we had eaten there a number of times. Food was usually good, service was decent.

One evening we decided to go use the gift certificate. There were told there was a 30 minute wait for a table, that turned into an hour. We could overlook that, restaurant queues are not always predicable.
We were sat, our order taken, and food arrived at a reasonable pace.

A few minutes after our entrees arrived, the staff started to arrange adjacent tables for a large party. It became clear fairly soon, that our table was needed for that party. I don't remember the exact sequence of events, but a check was presented and the staff attempted to take our plates away while we were still eating!

We finished quickly, had any leftovers packaged, and presented the gift certificate as payment - it covered the bill and a decent tip. As we were walking through the restaurant to leave, the manager told us the gift certificate could not be used for the tip. I must have been in shock, because I actually gave them cash for the tip. In retrospect, I should have said something like "Fine, we won't leave a tip".

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  1. The list is long but distinguished, but likely due to the recency effect I will vote for our recent meal at Uni which is detailed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/856578

    1. i will have to go with Fiorellas in newton. a victim of their own success.

      a fall meal and an "about 45 minute" wait for a table that morphed into an hour an 10, then a solid 10-15 to get drinks and menus, when the (already) harried waitress took our order, i could see that the kitchen was already deep in the weeds, but wife/daughter said " it wont be bad",.

      40 minutes later i managed to catch the waitresses eye and asked that my dinner be packed to go as we had already been there two hours.
      open kitchen running full bore, blue hairs complaining about their food, whole families of with whining hungry chlldren parked nearby like refugees, everyone TALKING REALLY LOUDLY, two women sitting together and both talking on their phones (i just dont understand this), people standing waiting for...what? not sure, blocking doorways and waitresses, and then finally food.

      meh. competent but uninspired, i asked for a check when she delivered the food and it still took 30 minutes to get. comped a couple of tiramisu, which was nice, but i really couldnt wait to get out of there.

      used to be a sweet little place you could get some decent italian for not much. since their build out, they can have it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hyde

        I agree that Fiorellas is a victim of its own success. The food just doesn't justify the wait and the crowds. A good alternative, in my opinion, is Maria di Napoli in Nonantum. The food is better, especially the pizza which is incomparably so, the owners are lovely people, and there is never a wait.

        1. re: bartleby

          my only quibble with di Napoli is one has to be prepared for a leisure pace at times. not slow, exactly, but a more continental pace between courses. not bad, but not a place to run in and grab something quick. best pizza in nonantum,(though that is a pretty low bar)

          1. re: hyde

            It's leisurely, I agree. I like that. When I'm in a rush, I call ahead.

      2. Many moons ago, when I was much younger, poorer, and less demanding than I am now, the wife and I and another couple went to Biba. We were seated promptly at our time of reservation, and that was the last thing that went right. First we were ignored for about 30 minutes without menus (we were told by the hostess that our server would bring us menus). Finally after 30 minutes our server came over to ask us what we'd like to order! Explaining that we were not given menus, the server left in a huff giving us the impression that this was somehow our fault. Ten minutes later (after flagging down a second server) we were given menus.

        Menus that we were apparently supposed to read in a millisecond as we had just gotten them when our first server came over to take our order. She returned in a few minutes and we ordered. Apps and a bottle of wine appeared in a reasonable amount of time, and while they were very good, I was so unhappy with the situation so far that I couldn't enjoy them as much as I should have.

        We then waited for our entrees. And waited. A table of four was seated next to us, got their apps, entrees, desserts, and paid, and we still waited for our entrees. This time was not spent without complaint. We asked our server numerous times where our entrees were and were told that they "had a new menu" and the kitchen was having difficulty with it. I asked why everyone else in the restaurant was eating entrees, especially the table next to us (two of whom had ordered what we had ordered), and was given a blank stare. We order a second bottle of wine which we finish before the entrees finally arrive. We order a third bottle of wine to drink with our entrees. Three of the four entrees were cold on arrival. I asked finally to speak to a manager. Manager came by and basically blamed the whole incident on us, saying we were being unreasonable. I told him that I didn't think I was being unreasonable expecting that my entrees would arrive sooner than 90+ minutes after my apps were cleared. Also I explained that we didn't expect to buy a third bottle of expensive for us wine either. He sent us 2 free desserts (we didn't order any, and wouldn't have at this point) as a comp. No offer to warm the food we'd gotten cold, no offer to comp us any of the meals or wine. Basically a cluster of titanic proportions.

        It was such a bad experience that I refused for many years to go to ANY Lydia Shire restaurants as I would not give that woman another dime of my money.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kimfair1

          Absolutely agreed. One of the oddest and most expensive meals of my life, even excluding the La Perla models from downstairs traipsing through in their transparent undergarments. Ew. "Gnocchi" with undercooked peas and slippery, unevenly melted cheese. I don't remember the rest. Awful.

          1. re: lifeasbinge

            Don't know about you, but I would certainly endure "gnocchi" with undercooked peas and slippery, unevenly melted cheese if I was forced to eat that while surrounded by La Perla models in transparent undergarments.

            1. re: Uncle Yabai

              i almost think that you cannot undercook a pea; i just nuke a bunch of them for 30 seconds and they are good to go.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                agreed, if I am making them in pasta, I just put them in the sauce at the end frozen, and just let them warm through, and done, as they are blanced prior to freezing anyways.

        2. Absolutely hands down my worst experience as of late was on the roofdeck at Jerry Remy's Fenway. Never in my life have I experienced such slow and inaccurate service EVER. While the waiter was friendly, he screwed up literally EVERY possible aspect of my order... multiple times. What should have been an "easy" 4 person table turned out to be the LONGEST dinner of my life due to slow service. I was also unimpressed by my food, but I'll admit that my selection was pretty bland, so I'll give them a wash on that one. Nevertheless, I have absolutely no desire to dine there again. Luckily for them I will likely end up buying pre-game beers there at some point in the future, I'm sure. Probably the only reason why they are still in business...

          1. I have developed selective memory about awfulness: I generally only remember not to go back, and blot out the horrible, horrible details.

            Probably the standout in recent memory was Sam's at Louis Boston under their original chef. Pretty much everything on several visits was just terrible: ineptly cooked, grossly oversalted, or both. I ended up making some roasted red pepper app the focus of my Stuff review: it was the only dish I didn't hate.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              And in fairness, Sam's original chef is long gone. The new crew is significantly better.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/