The concept is great – a bar, lounge, bistro, chef’s tasting table *and* gourmet to go, all under one roof. Brought to us by the chef/owner of Table in Shaw. All in the former Cafe Atlantico/America Eats/Azur space in Penn Quarter. Love it.
Well, more like liked it, and thought that the overall communications between staff and patrons needed to be much improved.
In this case, it started with the reservation. We were looking for a 6 pm seating so that we could have dinner with our friends E&I, then make it to our 8 pm show at the Shakespeare Theater to see Henry IV Part 1. I booked the 5-course tasting for our foursome, then saw the note that we should allow 2.5 hours for the experience. So I emailed – can we do the tasting menu at 6 and still make the 8 pm play? No problem, came the response a day later. Great, except that when we arrived, they moved us to a regular table in the bistro. Wouldn’t have been a problem, I was just expecting the 5 course tasting. If only someone had told me.
We were seated on the top level in a very stylish setting, waiting for our friends’ drinks, when the server came and took our drink orders.
I’ll have the sparkling rose.
We don’t have sparkling rose, she replies. Full stop, no further explanation.
As if I made that up. I give her a look, when it’s clear there’s no follow up or explanation, I ask, are you sure? as I turn to the drink menu to the category “Bubbles/Rose” where there’s clearly a rose listed.
Our server then explains in a condescending tone that it might look like the wine is a sparkling rose, but it’s just a rose. She sees how it’s easy to get confused.
Indeed. I’m going to guess that I’m not the first person to get tripped up by the labeling. She could have just said, oh do you mean the x wine? it’s actually a non-sparkling rose. Again: If only someone had told me.
At this point, I’m so clearly annoyed, and the meal hasn’t even started yet. From here on, the service was merely sloooowww, as in long waits between drink orders and drinks arriving, delays between drinks arriving and ordering appetizers. This despite the fact that we mentioned we were catching an 8 pm show. Perhaps they were that short-staffed.
The good news is that the appetizers were quite delicious and very shareable with the table.
My main of the arctic char was good, although the sauce was a little sweet. Maybe the texture of the artichokes brought out a sweetish taste … In all, the food was not as good as either Table or Azur, although on balance it was fine.
At this point, we were rushing to finish our food. In fact, E and I left dinner first to get a head start walking to the theater – high heels and all – while the guys waited, paid and caught up with us.
In all, the food shows promise, and the concept is great. The service needs to be speedier, but even more important, it needs to be attentive, and frankly, more communicative.