Monday, August 30, 2004

The Elephant Bar

I can't believe I forgot to post about this Saturday night, but I must now that I have just remembered it. Speaking of irritations, I must share my most irritable restaurant experience!

Just FYI, the city of Dallas has more restaurants per square mile than any other city in the United States. Even more than New York. So, as you can probably imagine, restaurants either thrive here, or they die a quick death. And the quickest way for a restaurant to die is by poor word of mouth. We Dallasites love to eat out. It's quite a hobby here.

So, we got this VIP Explorer card for The Elephant Bar in the mail a few weeks's for 20% off through the end of the year. We always go to the same places to eat, so we decided to try it. I had eaten at one in Simi Valley last October, so I thought it'd be an interesting change.

It started off great...our server was attentive and pleasant. For an appetizer, we got artichoke dip, and two iced teas. For dinner, I ordered the wok-fried teriyaki chicken and P ordered the jambalaya. We both ordered side salads. P specifically asked the server how hot the jambalaya was, and her answer was that most people found it to be on the bland side. Now, mind you, I have no taste for hot spicy foods, which is why I steer clear of them. My husband, on the other hand, is Hispanic and loves spicy foods (except pico de gallo, of course) and asked her to tell the kitchen to kick it up just a tad.

We get our artichoke dip, and it's great. Very tasty. Then, about ten minutes later, our dishes arrive. No salads. Our server after about ten minutes finally came to check on us and we had to remind her that she forgot the salads. In the time between when we reminded her and we actually got them, three other servers tried to give us the wrong salads, clearly meant for other tables. This was irritating because I was trying to have a conversation with P and we were continually interrupted. By the time we actually got the salads, we were almost done eating. She did not offer to take the salads off our ticket. My meal was ok...not quite what I had expected, but okay. P hated his though. He said it was way too spicy to eat. I tasted it and of course, it WAS too spicy to eat. It tasted like they had totally doused it with Tabasco to "kick it up". He gave up after picking at it for a few minutes. We had to track down our server multiple times to get tea refills and asked her a couple times for the check. She finally brought it with apologies and stated that she had given us a discount due to the mixup on the salads, and since it was obvious P didn't like his jambalaya. Gee, what was her first hint? The fact that he had barely touched it? She then went on to state that she didn't want to say anything, but that the jambalaya was not their most popular dish and that most people that ordered it didn't care for it. Information that would have been more useful when we ordered, not as we were trying to get the h*** out of there and try to salvage what was left of our evening. Of course, by this point, I'm getting annoyed. I took the check after she left and looked at it. This part even made me madder. Instead of giving us a discount because they screwed up, our waitress just gave us the same 20% VIP Explorer discount that we were going to get anyway with the card that we had been sent in the mail. She didn't even have the guts to go to her manager and tell him what had happened. Instead, she chose to lie to us. Being that I was a former server, I know all the little tricks to get around an unhappy customer, and using a coupon disguised as a "well, we'll do this to make you happy and shut you up" is one of them. When P called her on it, her response was, "Oh, I didn't know you had the Explorer card" and she offered to just take the salads off, which she should have done anyway when we didn't receive them before the meal. At this point, I am so irritated and annoyed, P was feeling the effects of the heartburn from the small amount of jambalaya that he had eaten, and we just wanted OUT of there. She of course took forever to process our check. In fact, at one point she walked BY our table to pick up the check from the next table who came in after us. It was pretty clear from her attitude that she realized that we were a lost gratuity and that there was no point in trying to salvage it.

Well, we did tip her 15% (despite my protests, but P overruled me), and she was right on one thing...there was no point in trying to salvage us because we'll never be back in there again.

We just should have gone to Chili's. I'm going to email them a copy of this blog entry...but it feels good to vent about it on a public website! My word of mouth may hurt them more than any email I could write to them complaining.


Blogger Amy said...

Oh Erica! What a shame! I got mad just reading that! I HATE bad restaurant experiences, especially since we have three (almost four) kids, the check is NEVER cheap! Let us know what they do about your email.

btw, so glad u liked Moulin Rouge! I haven't met anyone else (besides DD#1) who loves it like I do!

1:45 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

Sorry to hear about your bad experience! DH was a server and bartender, so we're real touchy about tipping. Your waitstaff should appreciate that they had you instead of us to serve! :) Have fun letting the restaurant know how lousy they were, I always send letters - positive *and* negative, so I believe in them.

Oh, funny enough. I know that University of Houston taught that Houston had the most restaurants per capita or whatever it was... is it time for another Houston/Dallas brawl? LOL (of course, this was 8 years ago!)

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate trying a new place and having a crappy meal! That sucks that she was so inattentive and didn't fill P in on the jambalaya. Too bad you can't take the tip back!

1:22 AM  
Blogger A&M's Mom said...

Love your blog! I will be back to read more later. I'm in Seattle Washington and let me say: bad service here is common.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well, how very helpful (not) of her. Recently I was in my favorite coffee shop and I ordered something new. The girl pbehind the counter just kind of looked at me and didn't start making it right away. So I smiled and said "Maybe a latte instead?" She smiled and said "good idea" and went on her merry way making the drink. Just goes to show you don't have to be insulting to steer a customer away from bad choices...

9:29 PM  

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