Review #4: Jaleo
First off, let me say that the food was excellent with some bites making my eyes roll to the back of my head (like the $22 piece of Iberico ham topped with caviar and gold leaf. Man I wish I could win the lottery!). So let's start there. I had left Sunday open for whatever we were in the mood for that night. We tried to go back to LoS but was not assured we could get in (9 people 9pm). So I called Jaleo and inquired if they would have a table for 9 and they said sure so off we went. This was the end of the trip for all of us as we were leaving the next day and wanted a good meal and where we could recap the weekend festivities. The problem is that Jaleo is not a restaurant conducive to conversation (unless you are yelling) so I was a bit skeptical. As we were brought to our table I was so excited that we were brought into a private room (opposite è and similar whimsical decor on 3 of the walls with the entrance being a glass wall) that was absolutely perfect. A couple minutes later (didn't mind the wait as we were all chatting) the waiter walked in and asked with a bit of an attitude, "How did you get this room?" It was a bit weird but oh well. He took or drink order and a couple minutes later came back with drinks and ready to take our order. So away I went. 2oz of Iberico bellota, 4 of the Jose Tacos (the Iberico ham with a healthy dollop of good quality caviar), enough of the pork paella for the 9 of us to each have a taste, the codfish croquettes, octopus and potatoes, sea urchin on toast, salmon crudo and the salmon tartare cones (both of which they were out of), the Rossejat negra con cigala (fried pasta, squid ink, squid, lobster), the mussels, the seared whole baby squid with artichokes and greens, and the Secreto ibérico con salsa verde (the skirt steak from the bellota pig).
Each thing was very good all the way to ethereal. Most were excellent. And the those tacos, WOW. EXCEPT, and this is where the "Ugly" part comes in, the baby squid. The presentation was fine and from what I could tell, a decent sized portion. Since it was place in front of me I took the first one. It was plump with nice char marks. I cut into it and liquid, like that of a soft boiled egg that had not cooked long enough, oozed out on the plate. And here is the stupid move by me, I actually gave them the benefit of the doubt thinking it could have been some sauce and took a bite (I grew up fishing with squid so I knew that the liquid was that of an uncleaned squid). Ughh. It was an uncleaned squid. Now, I know its not going to hurt me and that I will be fine. But it was the gag effect that ruined me. I politely spit it out in my napkin, told everybody not to eat it and put it back on the lazy susan. Our waiter came back and I told him what happened. "Are you sure?" was the first thing out of his mouth. Not really what you should say to a customer, IMO. No sorry, no "can we make it up to you?" no nadda. Just, "Are you sure?" to which he took it to the kitchen. Nothing more about it.
Next was dessert. Now the waiter knew it was my birthday, and knew we were there celebrating. Took the 3 orders. Came back with all three, one with a candle in it. Obligatory I suppose. (As a funny aside, the candle was lit, but when he came through the door it went out and he could relight it.). And like the dinner the desserts were great.
Now here is the "Bad" part. Check comes. 18% added, sop (a discussion for another time but where is the incentive to provide good service when you know you are going to get 18% no matter what?). So what's so bad you ask? Well, I would have expected some sort of gesture for the squid. And at a bare minimum, complementary dessert for me, for my birthday. But nothing. And lastly, and not all that horrible but poor form nonetheless, a different waiter whom had never entered the room came in to take the check and BEFORE he left the room was literally counting the money. Sorry, I have a hard time with that.
So in short: (Food) The GOOD, (Service) The BAD, and (Squid) The UGLY
Put it on your credit card and then stop the card in the parking lot when you leave...call the restaurant the next morning and talk to the owner if available...work out a reasonable solution...then go to the restaurant and pay cash for the agreed amount and get a refund receipt for the initial charge...
A similar incident occurred at a celebration dinner at Ma Peche in NYC. Five of us were sharing all the dishes and we ordered a "Thai chicken curry." It was fine, if meek, but the fourth person to dig in noticed that there was a large rubber band in the broth. We told our waiter, and he said: "Let me tell the manager."
The manager came by and we joked about it a bit, he took the bowl, including the rubber band away, and it occurred to me later that neither the waiter nor the manager actually apologized. We weren't offered an alternative and (I only subsequently learned -- one of us was treating the others), were charged for it.
Not yet. It was two weeks ago and I had actually been there the week before. We had some service issues that time, too, but mostly just poor timing of the rolling carts. The servers, in my experience, have been uniformly charming -- and I certainly don't blame them for the rubber band issue.