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Curlz

When good restaurants fail to please

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Good job on the letter. I agree with a few on this thread though. Out them. Please! I have good friends going to vegas in April. We've already started discussing restaurants. The last thing I want is to send them somewhere where they will be treated like you were for the kind of money you spent. I don't care how good the food is. Dining at that level is an experience (one I or they certainly don't have the expense account to blow) and service plays a large part. Heck, I'm not sure I'd go back to a normal restaurant if the food was good and the service that lousy. One thing about any restaurant bad publicity is NOT good publicity. I wouldn't discount word of mouth or the power of eGullet. I'd rather read reviews of the restaurants here than Bruni et al.

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man that sucks. speaking as a cook who has recently been given the opportunity to gain front-of-the-house experience at a pretty high-end joint, everything you spoke of sounds completely unacceptable. The worst part is not only did you receive crappy service, but no one even noticed you receiving crappy service. letting a table slip through the cracks like that is beyond embarrassing, it's a bloody sin against the industry. it's crap, and i hope to god you complain and they invite you back for another meal, on their dime, and that it is flawless.

sorry, this sort of thing gets to me.

i've only ever had this sort of experience at smaller, cheaper, independant places; all three or four times i've been able to spend that much cash in one sitting it has been spectacular...but maybe i've been lucky. if i was at the receiving end of such treatment--as passive and innocuous as it may seem from a service standpoint--i'd leave a tip of about ten cents. in pennies. in an upside down full water glass. then i'd hop on egullet and lacerate them :biggrin:

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"outing" the restaurant won't matter a bit.  if the have consistently horrible service (and i don't for a second think they do), they won't stay in business.  just my guess.

I have never been to Las Vegas, but having grown up in a tourist area I know of many establishments that know which customers are visitors likely never to return, and which customers come back time and time again. And at some of those places, they don't give a rat's tushy about the people who will never return.

So if they have consistently horrible service to everyone, no, they won't stay in business long. But if they have consistently horrible service just to the people who likely will never come back and might bad mouth them to a dozen or so people in a hometown far away, sure, they could have a nice long existence.

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your server would have sucked even if the VIPs weren't there.   and a chef hanging out with a VIP will have little to zero affect on your service, or your food for that matter.

Agreed again---but with the chef out there VIPing people, we had nobody to complain to. There was no manager evident, and the hostess was hardly a go-to person. That's why I mentioned the head chef.

Did you ask to speak to a manager? They aren't always walking through the dining room where you can see them. I just wouldn't put up with such service while I was in the room.

If you don't want to "out" them on this thread, because you are asking "what would you do?" in general, then certainly you should post your review in the SW forum. It sounds like the food was good, but there were service issues. So, do that in the thread about the specific restaurant, so others can be forewarned.

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Curlz,

As already said, write a letter. As a former manager of what was reviewed as "like the best in the world" I would like to know. This should not happen. If it does -- someone really has dropped the ball. If it were me, on your next trip I would make it up to you. So, write em and tell em.

Jmahl

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You know, by your description of how these events unfolded, it sounds like the entire problem was just that you had The World's Worst Waiter. Besides the obvious lack of upselling on alcohol, even bringing one course too early, the server probably failed to inform the kitchen that you weren't ready yet, but I suspect it was even worse than that. I bet that plate was intended for another customer with the same meal and the server screwed it up. Kitchens just aren't that fast to churn out plate after plate in less time than it takes us to eat them.

Bad waiters are a problem for customers, of course, but they're even worse for restaurants. I'm sure the manager would love to know about your experience. I'm just suprised this person was hired at such a high end place to begin with, considering they didn't have a clue what they were doing. Or it sounds like they weren't given any training, which is of course the fault of management, not the server.


Edited by Sugarella (log)

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As previously promised, I'm back to report on the name of the restaurant, because it has been over a month since I sent them a letter detailing the events of our dinner. I haven't heard a word from them. Granted, I started the letter by telling them that I did not have plans to return to Las Vegas and didn't want anything from them, but I didn't think I had to specify that a response would have been nice.

The restaurant was L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Don't waste your money.

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wow, i expected that it was l'atelier. we ate their recently and sat at the bar. there were some definite vip's sitting next to us, but our service didn't suffer. as a matter of fact, the chef made it a point to stop by and smile and ask how things were. there isn't really a place at the bar for someone to be ignored. if you were at a table, that's a different thing.

i wouldn't have left a tip. i would have left a note on the credit card slip detailing why you didn't leave a tip. the server has to drop his cc slips with his cash out, so someone in management would have had to read your note. also, the server would probably be dumb enough to complain about not getting a tip...

it is amazing to me (but not surprising) that a restaurant at that level wouldn't respond. i worked at a high end restaurant in new york city and if we received a complaint, our chef/owner would call them up personally to invite them back to the restaurant on his dime. it was never a question as to who's fault it was or whatever, the point was to bring the guest back and turn them around from being haters to lovers (of the restaurant).

however, joel robuchon is a french chef operating a business in the united states. i don't know how europeans deal with this type of thing...i'm sure differently than the americans. unfortunately these things fall between the cracks because nobody knows who is really in charge. this is just my opinion.

at the very least, you've warned some of us to be aware. i say, don't sit by and spend your money there. this isn't a warning to not eat there, but if you sense you aren't being treated fairly, then speak up at that moment or you will inevitably regret all the money you spent and the time wasted being angry.

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Two points for clarification: we did sit at the bar, and most of the food was wonderful. Sadly, that's not what we took away from the experience.

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Beyond that, that $350 goes to pay for a lot of stuff that you may or may not care about.  Someone's got to pay for the water show at the Bellagio.  It's pretty cool, but your neive if you don't accept the fact that a good chunk of your bill is subsidizing those things.  Now you're not talking about a $350 meal but a $250 meal (at least the food/wine/service part of it).  Which, of course, is still a good deal of scratch but you probably get the point.

I think the gambling pays for the extras like water shows. If eateries in big places like hotels break even then they are regarded as very very successful.

wow, i expected that it was l'atelier.  we ate their recently and sat at the bar.  there were some definite vip's sitting next to us, but our service didn't suffer.  as a matter of fact, the chef made it a point to stop by and smile and ask how things were. 

So Curlz, it looks like your letter got someone's 'attenceeon'. That's assuming Alana's excursion was indeed after yours.

That's gotta be gratifying in itself.

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There are so many different variables. Here's a recent thread on a discussion on the Philly board..in which I was very specific on where I dined! I though it was interesting on how many fellow e-g's opined, in one way or another, that the DINER has the responsibility to create the dining experience, as opposed to the restaurant itself.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=84254

PS. there was never any response, which was never the point but some people have inquired...I would be interested to see if the table is still there, we're going to brunch there ( not our choice) the Sunday after Easter, so we'll see!


Edited by Kim WB (log)

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I had a negative experience a while back in a well-known NYC restaurant that has received lots of PR and good ratings. I made no complaints while at the restaurant- that is not my nature. However, I did ventilate my feelings on this website and wrote what I thought was a very nice, objective letter to the chef/owner explaining what the problems were (service/attitude, not the food), but never received the courtesy of a reply. Maybe with so many people flocking to his hot restaurant, one less future diner really doesn't matter.

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I just returned from a few days in Las Vegas, and had an experience that is still p*ssing me off 48 hours after it happened.   Although we were watching our budget, my friend and I decided we would splurge on one show (Cirque du Soleil's O--DON'T MISS IT) and one great meal while we were there (unnamed restaurant).  Sadly, although the food was terrific, it was completely overshadowed by poor service and attitude.   :angry:

I don't want (or need) to 'out' the place here, because I am sending a letter to the internationally-known chef who is attached to the restaurant, but trust me that there was nobody we could have complained to on site.  The head chef was participating in the same "I'm giving VIP treatment to these folks and could care less who else is in here" that our waiter(s) were involved in, so it seemed pointless.  I'm not afraid of speaking up when there is an issue, and thought that our numerous verbal and non-verbal messages would help, but they didn't. 

The point of this post isn't necessarily to get a solution for what ticked us off about our $350+ meal for two--it's to ask what others have done when a NAME/REPUTATION doesn't live up to its billing.  I'd be curious to hear opinions, especially since I normally don't drop that kind of cash.  So--for those of you with the bank and/or expense accounts who do, please weigh in!

Your post piqued my interest, I searched out some online info. I would seriously check out some of these names and send correspondence accordingly. I cannot believe (well I believe you), but $350.00 plus is supposed to an affordable counter service experience? Yikes! I'd copy appropriate personnel outside of the catering establishment itself, such as the hotel manager, etc. There is no excuse for shoddy or ignorant service, especially at that price and at a place that advertises itself as providing quality and attention to detail in a casual dining atmosphere. Hope you get a response, and you indeed should if you copy MGM Hotel management.


Edited by ~cayenne~ (log)

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sounds like you had really bad service.

the issue of restaurants giving VIPs VIP treament is likely unrelated, and totally expected and acceptable in my book.

VIP treatment is fine so long as it's not at the expense of other diners. I'd expect better service at Chili's. No way would I have left any tip-not one cent.

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I've just started reading this thread but can't finish it--gotta cook dinner, after all--but I do want to comment about the whole idea of bad service and good food, particularly in a "destination" restaurant.

My experience has been that that kind of restaurant, in a town with visitors who may never come back, or if they do it may be years later, doesn't really give a damn about whether you've had a bad experience or not. They're probably never going to see you again, so why bother? The VIPs that everyone was fawning over may be regular customers, but they don't know you and don't expect to see you again. Given your treatment, that's a good guess.

Your local restaurant treats you better, I'm sure, which is a reason to become a regular in a place with both good food and good service. If you have a bad experience in your home town and don't come back--well, it gets noticed a lot more than it will in Lost Wages.

I have to admit my heart skipped a beat at the tab--yikes! I don't blame you for being hacked off about such lousy service. With that kind of dough one would hope for at least a crumb of attention from the wait staff. An old friend of mine, when confronted with such treatment, always made a point of handing a penny to the waiter personally, which is a little more than I'm willing to do.

I don't know if the other posters have convinced you to name the restaurant, but I would urge you to do so. Too bad--the food was good, you said...

Better luck next time, I guess--

N.

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