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Surprising Bad Service at Bouchon

ellenost Mar 20, 2013 06:47 AM

Went to Bouchon yesterday for breakfast (my 5th visit). I have always loved Bouchon for breakfast for the food, their wonderful coffee, and, up until yesterday, excellent service. I arrived at 9:00, and was seated promptly. The restaurant was half empty. I ordered the breakfast Jardinere which has many different plates: eggs and brioche toast, sautéed spinach, lyonnaise potatoes, fruit cup, and pastry. All of these plates are served at the same time which in addition to coffee, juice and water makes for one very crowded table. The rude service started when I asked my server whether I could substitute the beignets for my pastry and I would be willing to pay any additional charge for the substitution. Her reply was "absolutely not" which I found bizarre. She didn't refill my coffee--I had to ask another server to refill my coffee who did so with the usual graciousness that I am used to from Bouchon servers. When I had finished my eggs, I wanted/expected my server to remove the empty plate so I could move one of the other dishes front and center. After my server had passed my table without removing the empty plate I resorted to self-help and moved the empty plate to the other side of the table. After about 3 times of my server passing my table with nothing in her hands, she removed the empty plate.

When I finished my breakfast, I asked my server for the beignets. When they finally arrived, they were burnt. I tried them and they tasted as bad as they looked. I asked my server whether they were overdone, and she smiled and said that's the way they always look. I really doubt this. Not wanting to waste the calories, I decided to leave them.

The oddest thing was that the people at the table next to me were drinking coffee, but decided they didn't want breakfast. My server said she would bring them their coffee in paper cups so they could take them to go. Obviously this took too long, and the people left. My server turns to me and ask whether I want their coffees--who in their right mind would offer/accept someone else's already drunk coffee? I declined. Took a few times to finally get the check. Left a 10% tip. What a disappointing breakfast!

  1. j
    josephnl Mar 28, 2013 11:45 AM

    I've been in Las Vegas for the past several days and had 2 dinners at Bouchon, one at a table and one alone at the bar. Both were quite good foodwise, and service was fine both times. I'm hoping that your experience was just a fluke.

    BTW we also had dinner at Le Cirque which was as wonderful as ever...food, service and ambiance. The service at LeC is as perfect as it gets...warm, knowledgeable, and attentive w/o being overbearing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: josephnl
      ellenost Mar 28, 2013 12:28 PM

      Hopefully the woman who took care of my table was having a bad day when I was there and she has recovered, or maybe she doesn't work the dinner shift. I was surprised at the bad service since on all of my prior visits I had found service to be quite nice.

    2. d
      deprofundis Mar 26, 2013 09:40 PM

      ha, your 10% tip was generous. I visited Bouchon in Vegas for brunch last year. I don't recall any rude service, but the food was very average. I feel no reason to go back.

      7 Replies
      1. re: deprofundis
        ellenost Mar 27, 2013 04:15 AM

        I know it was generous but the bill was $31 and some change, and I didn't have singles so I left $35. Was afraid to leave my credit card since I didn't want this server to add a more generous tip for herself. Real shame since I always looked forward to my breakfasts at Bouchon, and I am a big fan of Chef Keller's Per Se in NYC where I had another exquisite extended tasting lunch last month.

        1. re: ellenost
          JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Mar 28, 2013 12:48 AM

          Just curious, did you let anyone at the restaurant know you were displeased with the service? It's very hard for them to fix things after you've left.

          Worrying about leaving your credit card is, in a word, dumb. Credit card slips come with a second copy for a reason. A quick call to the restaurant will adjust the total to the correct amount (and usually get the waiter justifiably sacked in the process).

          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
            ellenost Mar 28, 2013 03:49 AM

            Although a call to AMEX would correct the situation, I would rather not have to waste my time with the hassle. Since the bill was less than $32, I thought it was the "smart" thing to simply leave cash. Didn't bother telling the hostess since other than an apology from the hostess, I didn't want to waste a minute more of my vacation in Bouchon! Since many restaurants have gotten fairly savy and read websites like Chowhound, I wouldn't be surprised if the management of Thomas Keller restaurants has already read this post.

            1. re: ellenost
              Njchicaa Mar 28, 2013 06:07 AM

              You're right about places watching the Internet for feedback from guests. I tweeted about a situation the other night and had both the GM and chef reach out to me to find out what happened the very next day.

              1. re: Njchicaa
                JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Mar 28, 2013 12:30 PM

                As an industry veteran: I would MUCH rather you tell me while you're still at the restaurant than complaining on Twitter the next day. This passive-aggressive BS has got to stop.

              2. re: ellenost
                JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Mar 28, 2013 12:29 PM

                Tell people at restaurants when something is wrong. If you sit there all glib acting like everything is OK, they'll think you're happy. Tell the management that you had an awful time, and they'll likely bend over backwards to fix things. But they can't fix it if you don't TELL THEM.

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                  ellenost Mar 28, 2013 01:33 PM

                  Definitely wasn't acting glib acting like everything was OK. BTW, when I left the hostess didn't even bother to say "thanks" or "hope to see you again" or "hope you enjoyed your breakfast". Doubt she would have much cared if I had stopped and wasted more of my time to complain.

                  BTW, if you've read any of my other posts you'd see that I usually praise restaurants for their service. IMO nothing can ruin a restaurant quicker than poor service. The service at Cafe Bellagio far surpassed the service I received at Bouchon last week.

        2. c
          cobpdx Mar 26, 2013 01:34 PM

          I must say we dined there about 2 days prior to you (but posted about it after your visit - sorry) and sat at the bar. The service was fine, but the coffee was not very good and our main dishes came out warm, instead of hot...maybe things have slipped a bit there recently.

          1. j
            josephnl Mar 20, 2013 12:06 PM

            I must say that we've always found that table service at Bouchon to be spotty, and therefore generally eat at the bar where the service is usually very good.

            Since we most often stay at the Wynn/Encore and use our AmEx platinum card, we get $40pp breakfast credit and therefore have breakfast at Tableau. Tableau serves a wonderful breakfast...maybe a small tad beneath Bouchon, but the service is always great, and the setting is beautiful.

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