Jamie Kennedy - awful service/great food
Sadly, I need to add my name to the growing list of people who were completely turned off by the service at Jamie Kennedy's restaurant the other night.
Having been duly warned by previous posters about the no reservations policy, we arrived on Saturday evening with an open mind and lots of patience. Arriving at 6:50 pm, we hoped we might snag an early table but alas, the wait was already estimated to be an hour. We left our cell phone number with the host, went elsewhere for a drink and returned at 8:00 pm. We were seated 10 minutes later - so far, so good.
We were seated in the back section which is quite cut off from the rest of the room - were we not already feeling quite hungry, we'd have waited for one of the chairs at the bar (ideally overlooking the kitchen). As we were about to sit down, an exiting customer recommended that we order some dishes right away as the service was slow. Our waitress arrived about 15 minutes later and we quickly ordered the Artisinal Cheese platter and the Winter Salad, along with some wine. About 25 minutes later, the salad arrived. Pretty tasty (though the sherry vinegar was slightly overpowering). Another 20 minutes later, after 2 further requests for the cheese platter, we sat there feeling famished and thirsty (our wine and water glasses were empty). The waitress assured us the cheese platter would be coming shortly and we decided then to order 3 more dishes - Cornish Hen, Monkfish and Frites. After 15 minutes, the only thing we had received was a second order of salad (though tempted to eat anything at that point, we explained that we had already received our salad but were waiting for other things).
The frites came next. Classic JK frites spilling out of a paper cone with a lovely, tangy lemon mayo dip. And finally, about 1-1/2 hours after we had ordered it, our cheeses arrived. The waitress was able to tell us the names of 3 of the 6 cheeses were but the other ones were simply described as "from France" or "from the south of France". We asked the waitress for the names of the cheeses - she promised to oblige but never returned (the cheeses, whatever they were, were quite delicious). About a 1/2 hour later, again with empty water and wine glasses, the Cornish Hen and the Monkfish arrived. The Monkfish was done in an olive/pepper sauce and I'm blanking on the preparation for the Cornish Hen - again, both were quite flavourful.
Unfortunately, between the small portion size and the long waits between each course, we were still hungry. So we ordered the pate, thinking that would be quick. Well, 3 requests and one hour later, we received it. I'm not sure which was more annoying - our waitress smilingly assuring us 3 different times that "it was coming right up" (never once apologizing or even acknowledging the extraordinary delays) or our subsequent conversation with the host. While doing a little scan around the room to see when tables might be coming up, I told him that we'd be happy to have our table turned over if the service was faster. He told us that they'd been having a lot of complaints that night, suggested that to have the best experience, we should really come during a weekday (when he was waiting tables!) and confided in us that at nights, their staff is unfortunately a little "young". It was quite unprofessional. We suggested that they may want to revisit their "no reservations" policy or consider more staff (or better staff?) on the floor or in the kitchen - but for the additional kitchen help, which he acknowledged would be helpful, he seemed to think the other strategies wouldn't make a difference.
The women at the table next to us ordered coffee and desserts - they received their coffees and 1/2 hour later, their desserts. The people at the other table in our area (who had a different waiter) were given food but then had to wait about 10 minutes for someone to bring them a fresh set of cutlery.
I wanted to love this restaurant. I arrived armed with an extra reserve of patience. I love eating out and trying new things and I will always look for the positive in every situation. But as great as the food was, the service was worse. I really hope JK does something fast to improve things - as things stand, I certainly wouldn't rush (no pun intended) back.
I was very lucky in my first JK experience. A group of us went for lunch, and at *lunch* you can make a reservation for a group of more than 6 (which we were).
The restaurant was completely full by the time we ordered (about quarter past noon -- we arrived at noon), but we clearly managed to miss the surge, because our first plates arrived well under half an hour, and we were out in just over an hour after arrival.
The service and food were excellent. The server was quite clear about the size of portions, and so people ordered accordingly.
For the record, I split a "lamb poutine" -- which was a healthy serving of JK frites with a cigar-shaped bit of ground lamb resting on top with what tasted like a rosemary-infused jus poured over it; an outstanding oxtail dish -- the best part of this was actually the slice of garlic toast with marrow spread on it, but I'm a salt fiend -- with the recommended red wine (superb match); a perfect sliver of upside-down pineapple cake with a heaping tablespoon dollop of coconut ice cream. I also had a forkful of the winter salad -- quite nice, I think the walnut oil (?) is a nice touch, and a little bit of the hummus, olive tapenade, and fish mousse with pita -- the tapenade and fish mousse were particularly fine. Fellow diners recommended the fish fillet (which, surprisingly, was breaded, but extremely good, and a larger portion than the meat dishes), mushroom soup, and (if you like chocolate) the dessert which I've forgotten the name of, but has a paired port as the recommendation.
I would definitely recommend visiting JK at lunch over the dinner experience.
Thanks for the review and I have heard similar stories from more than a few people. The thing that strike me as odd is when I used to watch the show about Rocco's restaurant in NY I would say that any place with service that bad would be out of business quickly. Well this place seems to be just as comical and I will actually give in and go try it out some time this week. We are having an over under bet that if we go at 6:30 on Wednesday we wont be out of there until 10pm.