"Why are they trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" was a sentiment I heard as my husband and I settled in for an anniversary dinner at The Bauer Kitchen restaurant. We arrived a few minutes early for our 5:30 pm reservation and the hostess showed us to our table without delay.
Our server arrived at the table with our food menus before we were seated and asked if we wanted water. We both answered in the affirmative and asked for lemon; however, I was not surprised when both lemon and lime slices arrived. It seems that in the time it takes most servers to travel from the table to the water jug and back again, they either forget which we'd asked for or forget the garnishes all together. But, as Meg would say, that's a rant for another time.
Our server, for the sake of this blog let's call him Joe, brought our menus along with a small bowl of butter and asked if we'd like to order. I asked to see the wine menu, and before I had time to do more than open the front cover, he asked again what we'd like to order. We weren't there ten minutes, and we were already getting the feeling that we'd outstayed our welcome. I asked him to give us a minute.
We took a couple of minutes making our wine choice, then I set the menu on the table. Joe hovered nearby looking at us; but strangely for someone who had rushed us before, he did not approach the table. Another five minutes went by as we exchanged glances before I motioned him over and placed the order. When he returned with the wine, he asked if we would like to order or hear the features. Duh - I'm sure it was a big surprise that we wanted to hear the features. After a decent rendition of the daily offerings, he must have realized he hadn't brought our bread and scuttled off to get it. Definitely strike one. At this point, we were only mildly annoyed, although Joe and the sports bar like ambiance provided us with plenty to discuss.
We wondered why a restaurant of the calibre and reputation of The Bauer Kitchen would have walls of boxes stacked beside the bar and along the back wall; it did not add to the decor. Of course, the basketball games on several large screen TVs contributed to the feeling. Like many restaurants, I found the noise level deafening.
Joe returned with the bread and asked again for our order. Neither of us have large appetites, so we often share. On a positive note, the kitchen did a great job of splitting our shared salad and entree. The food was decent, but nothing to write home about. I rarely eat fried food, but fresh cut fries are a weakness, so we opted for the steak with fresh cut fries. The fries were greasy and mushy, and not even the cute container they were served in was enough to resurrect them.
We had barely put down our cutlery when Joe whisked away our plates. This was repeated several times, and we began to wonder if The Bauer Kitchen slogan was get 'em in, get 'em fed and get 'em out. Not once did he ask if we were finished. My husband was biting into his bread when Joe removed his bread and butter plate and knife along with the remaining bread and butter. I felt compelled to point out that my husband was still eating. This resulted in a return of the bread basket without benefit of plate, knife or butter, leaving us to ponder on whether this was just the sheer incompetence of one server of if the Charcoal Group has lowered their service standard. Strike two.
Dinner for two with a shared salad, entree and half litre of wine came in around the $60 mark; enough to pay to be treated so poorly.
As we left the restaurant, the hostess asked, "How was it?"
"So, so," I replied.
"Excellent," she said as she beamed a 100 watt smile in my general direction.
How sad is that? Strike three!