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Brunch at Stella: Very Good Food, Sub-par Service

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We just returned from brunch at Stella in the South End. The room is a cheery welcoming window-lined space, with lemon yellow accents for the tall white walls, white chairs, white tables . A delightful spot for an early Spring brunch on a (finally!) sunny day.

A GM/Greeter set a nice tone. Unfortunately it was a smoke screen, as service proved to be the worst part of our brunch there. The demise started with my Eggs Benedict which were delicious but tepid/cold. Our newbie waiter(who referred to the Hollandaise as 'yellow sauce') was off somewhere not training, and I finally hailed an assistant?mngr when she managed to look our way as she took a breath in her ongoing chat session with another greeter. Fortunately, I kept my superb fries and arugula side salad for my fairly long wait, while My Love was happily enjoying his duck confit hash. My plate was delivered to me by the GM who simply said, "we hope these will be more to your liking." He disappeared and we never saw him again. The dish was hot and the food was delicious, but 2 requests I had made with the waiter- for well done Eng muffin and extra sauce- were clearly not communicated to the chef. And, like the GM and the chat-engaged assistant GM, the waiter also never checked back to make sure everything was fine . In fact, after waiting 10 minutes for the bill, we had to approach the still-chatting assist. GM -for that.

What we decided is that Stella's owners need to save money on staff and send their waiters and managerial staff to the Aquitaine School of Restaurant Service. As I reflected on it, I realized that loyal Aquitaine(and Myers +Chang too) customers are loyal because , aside from loving the food and the environment, they know( consciously or subconsciously) that if anything does go wrong, it will be taken care of quickly and well. Our experience has been, at both Aq and M+C, that if a plate gets sent back to the kitchen, you will be visited/checked on by a GM after a few minutes of the corrected plate returning to you, and they will be completely informed on the details of the problem. AND they will just as likely be bearing a lagnappe.

I don't know if we would return to Stella's. A number of CHs like it, and maybe there is a significantly better staff at dinner. If the dinner food is consistent with the brunch, I bet it's quite good.....

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  1. I've only had dinner there, not brunch, and the service was spot on each time. There's no excuse for bad service, and it doesn't sound like a simple case of a novice waiter either. Management should have been more apologetic and involved in followup...