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Eastern Standard - Boston; AKA worst breakfast ever

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Leaving our hotel, a friend suggested we "pop in" and have a quick breakfast before our three hour car ride, because our hotel's continental breakfast was pretty lousy the day before. So in the six of us went. As we perused the menu, we realized this was not really a breakfast place. Three of us, including myself, ordered the Vermont Cheddar omelet, two got the scrambled eggs, but subsituted over sunny side up - which was only offered as a side (fried - $4 per egg) and one person got the eggs benedict.

My omelet came out and looked wonderful. I cut it down the middle, expecting that wonderful cheese to stick to my knife and ooze out. One problem. Not one of the three had any cheese in it. I mean none! On the plate was one piece of toast, cut in half, which was white bread, not even a choice of breads was given. The home fries were red potatoes absolutely smothered in some kind of oil, which wasn't even heated enough to lose the oily flavor. Nothing was seasoned at all. Not one pinch of salt or pepper on the eggs or potatoes. The coffee cups couldn't have been more than 3oz and our server, while making a huge production both time he refilled our glasses, was slower than molasses.

A few other complaints.
1. The server wanted to take our drink order, then walk away....it's breakfast and the menu has about eight choices, how much time did he think we needed.
2. The place was dead and from the time we ordered it took well over 20 minutes to get our food (we all ordered eggs).
3. He served three of is, walked away, then served two more, then brought out the sixth dish a good four minutes after the first three had been served.
4. $120 for breakfast! $20 per person with tip.

Food - F
Service - F
Ambience - B+
Price - ridiculous

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  1. After you perused the menu and saw the prices and one side egg for $4.00, you should have politely got up and walked out.

    4 Replies
    1. re: treb

      I honestly didn't notice the sides, because I simply ordered the omelet. I felt it pricey, but figured it would be a nice three egg omelet, overflowing with cheese, some nice home fries and two pieces of toast. I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant that serves one piece of toast, let alone simply not put cheese in an advertised cheese omelet. Worse than the $4 egg, was the $3 coffee, which was awful coffee.

      1. re: jhopp217

        I hate the 'one piece of toast syndrome' and rarely return.

        1. re: trufflehound

          IMO, it shows stupidity and cheapness, I mean a slice, maybe ten cents?

      2. re: treb

        Agreed. I would have done the same thing and I am a fan of Eastern Standard for dinner. I never overpay for breakfast.

      3. This confirms my instinct at ESK never to get anything more nourishing than a Ramos Gin Fizz before noon. Nobody in town does a better one, or gives it more of the requisite long shake. I call it the gentleman's Carnation Instant Breakfast.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        8 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Sounds so wrong for a restaurant whose service and competence I continue to prize to shortchange guests on breakfast. Why bother to serve it? Do they have some deal with the hotel that makes them have to offer something? Just isn't in keeping with the otherwise really committed to service and quality vibe that characterizes the place in the evening.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            i have had breakfast and the omelet there. not the best i've ever had, but pretty straightforward and enough cheese for me. sounds like it was forgotten altogether.

            as for the coffee, 3 oz. is the size of an espresso cup -- is that really what you got?

            the lapse in service is totally off-character, no matter what time of day i have been there, i've never had anything remotely like that. i'd make a phone call or drop an e-mail. the owners and managers are sincerely guest-focused.

            oh, and yes, serving breakfast is part of their lease.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Breakfast in a hotel is usually geared more for the corporate traveller.

              1. re: libertywharf

                lol, yes, i know. perhaps you meant to address the op? or haven't gotten through to my remarks down-thread?

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Hoto
                  Yes, that was to the op. I see your post below says the same.

                2. re: libertywharf

                  But it appears to be a stand alone restaurant. We were staying a block away. I didn't even notice it was part of a hotel. Had outdoor seating and apparently has quite the cocktail reputation.

                  1. re: jhopp217

                    eastern standard, the hawthorne and icob are all owned by the same group and all in the commonwealth hotel. you just didn't look up ^^.

                    :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      I didn't look up and I won't look back

            2. Sorry you had a bad experience!

              Hotel breakfasts usually suck, although I think Henrietta's Table (Charles Hotel, Harvard Square) is an exception.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Prav

                Is it part of a hotel? I hadn't even noticed. From what I've read since posting this, it's one of Boston's more famous restaurants , albeit most noted for it's cocktails

                1. re: jhopp217

                  Yes, it's in the Hotel Commonwealth, which is also home to Island Creek Oyster Bar and the Hawthorne.

                  I've had some great Sunday brunches there--I don't go expecting a bargain and cocktails are definitely part of the appeal--but never for a straight-up weekday breakfast. I'd consider it more of a "breakfast meeting" place.

                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    This is too funny. A friend suggest ICOB and I said I wasn't near it. I was staying 200 feet from it. Damn!

              2. Out of curiosity, did you complain and/or get replacement omelets? I wouldn't pay one penny for an $11 "Vermont Cheddar" omelet with no cheese in it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  Honestly, I don't complain about food like that. I take it as a lesson learned and never go back. Plus, two others had finished half of theirs (both were mad also), but we had to get on the road...didn't have another 20 minutes to wait for the chef to figure out how to add cheese to an omelet

                  1. re: jhopp217

                    In that sort of situation, I would do what you did -- eat the food that took forever to come out, get it over with, & get on the road -- and then contact the manager and explain what happened. $11 for an empty omelet and a single piece of toast to share is robbery.

                2. Good to know.

                  I've had great brunch there (reasonably priced) a couple times, including a couple months ago.

                  1. Sorry you had a bad experience, but I think your expectations were a bit out of whack. It's a hotel restaurant not a diner. It is going to be a bit overpriced, and you are not going to get your food within 10 minutes of ordering, or asked whether you want white, wheat, rye, etc.

                    It's unfortunate that the kitchen also did a poor job, but the food there is usually unremarkable.

                    I've been there for brunch once or twice and found it to be fine, if a bit expensive.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: nickls

                      A bit out of wack, the OP got one fregg'n slice of white bread toast. Seriously on a tab of $120 for 4?

                      1. re: treb

                        "4. $120 for breakfast! $20 per person with tip."

                        ~~~

                        "Seriously on a tab of $120 for 4?"

                        it was a party of 6.

                        hotel breakfast is not charlie's kitchen.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Expecting more than one piece of toast and the presence of cheese in a cheese omelet are not out of whack. Hotel breakfast or not, these are minimal expectations. I agree I wouldn't expect to be blow away by breakfast fare, but the OP should have got a decent meal, which they did not.

                          1. re: Science Chick

                            i already suggested they call or email to let management know. not much we can do about it.

                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                            No one anywhere ever gets just one piece of toast.

                        2. re: nickls

                          All due respect, but if you serve food, you should put your best dish out no matter where you are serving it from. so if you invite people over to your house, do you say "i'm not chef, so don't expect much?"

                          1. re: jhopp217

                            As a business traveler, I'm kind of resigned to often crap, always overpriced hotel restaurant breakfasts.

                            They don't bother because they don't have to; businesspeople don't usually have the luxury of Chowhound spelunking at 7am. I'm just grateful to find quality Greek yogurt at retail when I'm on the road.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        3. I'm thinking the cheese was completely forgotten. If I got a cheese omelet without cheese in it, I would ask about it.

                          1. Ok, this thread is getting stale. Hotel breakfasts aren't great. The end.

                            :)

                            1. I take issue with all those who seem to be giving ESK a pass because it's a "hotel restaurant." It's not exactly the crap restaurant you find in a typical Marriott, where the restaurant is not expected to be a money maker, but rather exists simply because it's believed to be a necessary amenity (although, as many may have read, the New York Hilton, NYC's largest hotel, has recently eliminated room service, running counter to the industry belief that that's also a necessary amenity in a full service hotel). In addition, in my 25 years of experience of business travel, I have found that higher end hotels often times offer excellent breakfasts (albeit at a high cost).

                              ESK sets the expectations (on which it usually delivers) of being a serious stand-alone restaurant that just happens to be in a hotel. The OP had every right to believe that he would get a quality meal and decent service at ESK, and ESK failed him miserably.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Blumie

                                +1 for Blumie and I'm a great fan of ESK which means I expect them to do it right and not mail it in. Also I take issue with the assertion that all hotel breakfasts are crap. I travel a lot both here and abroad and while most hotel breakfasts are overpriced and some are pallid, I've had many that are very good and some that are excellent. ESK is too good a restaurant to be content with an unacceptable level of food and service.

                                1. re: teezeetoo

                                  I agree. I stayed in a hotel in Newport, RI and while it was continental, it had everything you could imagine. Toast, English Muffins, Scones, Croissant, HB eggs, tons of fruit, yogurt, jams and jellies, pancakes, french toast, waffles, bacon, sausage and it was all included in the price of the hotel. It also served wine and cheese at 5pm every day. Ended up saving me about $100 over the course of my stay with a date that long weekend.

                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                    A weekend breakfast- and happy-hour-inclusive package in a tourist town is not really representative of the typical business traveler's experience or options, at least in the USA.

                                    Far more common are overpriced room-service or sit-down restaurant breakfasts, and for frequent-guest program members and business travelers willing to pay a concierge-level premium, a decent breakfast spread, usually emphasizing cold items and maybe some steam-table buffet, in the club lounge.

                                    I'm not defending ESK serving a crap and/or overpriced breakfast. I'm just saying crap and/or overpriced hotel restaurant breakfasts are a commonplace, and if you can't tell that a restaurant like ESK is a hotel restaurant, the fact that it serves breakfast is a big hint. What other fine-dining establishments do?

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      Completely off subject, but the only reason we even looked for a decent place was because we had three hours of travel ahead of us. When I go away, the last thing I want is a heavy breakfast. A bagel or english muffin is just fine, but the hotel we stayed in had the most horrid continental breakfast we'd ever had.

                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                        where did you stay?

                              2. Experienced road warriors occasionally run into the situation the OP encountered at ESK. You're staying in a nice hotel with a well-regarded restaurant on the premises; it might even be considered one of the best dining establishments in the city you happen to be in (not exactly the case with ESK, though I enjoy the food there -- and it certainly qualifies as one of the best bars in Boston). Maybe you even had a wonderful dinner in this restaurant the night before.
                                But when you arrive for breakfast, the vibe is decidedly different. There are very few people in the room. The attentive waitstaff who doted on you the night before has been replaced by disinterested zombie servers. The menu shows no trace of imagination except when it comes to the prices, say, $12 for unadorned pancakes and bacon.
                                That's when you run, don't walk, out the door and find yourself another place to eat: a local diner, a waffle house or even a fast-food chain, where you're going to be in and out in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the price -- and the food will be as good, if not better, than what the hotel restaurant offered.
                                Now this is not to excuse bad food and apathetic service, especially at a premium price, but it's a reality. For some hotel establishments, serving breakfast is an obligation they choose to fulfill with minimal effort. When you see signs of this syndrome, flee.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: katzzz

                                  This very much echoes my experiences with hotel breakfasts on the road. Yes, a Four Seasons will treat you better early in the day, but it is hard to get out of there for under $30-$40/head, even if all you get is a smoothie.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/