Friday, January 16, 2009

Tips Reflect Service

OK well to be blunt, Hells Kitchen was pretty disappointing in almost all aspects and unless they get their act together, I don't think I'll ever go again.

Nad and I went for their Dine Out dinner earlier today. Hells Kitchen seemed to have one of the best menus under the $18 restaurants and I had heard pretty good reviews from word of mouth. The restaurant itself is casual, a tad quirky with the lights, and Abercrombie-dark with a lot of durable leather, wood, brick, and red. The hostess had a "trainee" vibe to her and didn't seem too confident or experienced which sort of made a temporary first impression on me. Nad had made a reservation online for today except it didn't seem coordinated with the restaurant because they had no clue we had made a reservation. Wasn't much of a problem as the restaurant wasn't full. Soon enough, we were seated in two low dark leather and spacious bucket chairs.

The server came by promptly and asked us if we knew about Dine Out and showed us where it was in the menu and quickly explained the drink special. There's three choices for each category: appetizers, entree, and dessert. Very simple and straight forward - one read through and you've memorized the whole thing. Nad and I planned to share everything so we ended up getting a poutine (which the server pronounced poo-tin) and chowder as appetizers, 2 pizzas (all three entrees were pizzas), and a tiramisu and a creme brulee for dessert. I also ordered a glass of Riesling which the server poured from this small open-mouthed glass into my wine glass in front of me which was a nice touch.

Our appetizers came out... a salad and chowder... no, we didn't order a salad. Sorry! She quickly turned her heel and a few minutes later she came out with the correct appetizers. Said something about the kitchen losing our order which was sort of understandable 'cause that has happened a couple of times at my restaurant too (though I don't understand HOW...) I enjoyed my chowder - they served a good-sized portion, it was hot, it had a ton of ingredients in it all chopped up perfectly, it seemed fresh and it had seafood. The poutine was alright. I always picture the NYFries version of poutine and this one didn't really look like it. It was a bit plain and starchy + filling -- too much potato, I didn't see any gravy in it/needed more.. less soggy, more crisp... but there were bacon bits.. not enough melted curd. The server came around and asked us how our first bites were... I didn't even touch my chowder yet and I think Nad was eating her first bite of poutine... It's... good? I guess?

I guess it's a bit different than most restaurants because the pizza needs to be served hot out of the oven, but it felt a bit rushed when we were about 1/2-3/4 finished our appetizers and she asked if we wanted her to take it away to make room for the pizza since it was ready to deliver. Uh no.

We cleared space and got our pizza. The pizzas were of decent size - thin crust. They tasted OK. I don't know if my tastebuds are wacky but they were both on the plain side. We finished half of each pizza and had them packaged separately. Then the server asks us if there's anything else we'd like and we're like "no, we're good". We were just waiting for our dessert. A minute later, she comes by to give us the bill.................... what?! Where's our dessert?? How can you forget something like that? So sorry!

A guy come by holding 2 plates of dessert and sets down the creme brulee and a cup of brown stuff he initially said was mousse and we're like "we ordered a tiramisu" and he quickly said "oh, I meant tiramisu". Nad was already skeptical. I take a spoonful... lo and behold, it's chocolate mousse... Sorry! So we told the server and she let us keep the mousse and came back with the tiramisu (the chocolate mousse turned out to be much better than the tiramisu which we found to be semi-tasteless and dry). They didn't even use real whipped cream.
Nad's creme brulee was good. I found the presentation of the food to be pretty decent, though.

So after all that, I gave the server the benefit of the doubt... maybe she was having an off day... maybe it was her first time serving with the Dine Out menu and forgot because people usually don't order dessert... but still. Even though she was polite and apologetic, she didn't come across as very genuine or aware... I felt as though she just said things because they were routine, not because she actually meant them. When Nad was away from the table, the server came by and quickly said, without even looking at "us", "How are we doing here girls?" (plural? It's just me sitting there...) and before I can even answer, she says "here's the bill thank you" in such a rushed tone and leaves.
Gee thanks for waiting for me to answer! She should know that service should be good until the end. The end is what customers remember the most! Her tip definitely reflected the service, not the food, though the food tip wouldn't be fantastic either. I wasn't impressed. I don't think so many things have gone wrong for me at a restaurant before and I haven't had a bad restaurant experience since going to Sauce in Victoria (the servers were dumb and rude). I feel compelled to post something on

Food: 3/5
Service: 2.5/5
Value: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5

FYI: They don't provide Dine Out for parties of more than 4 people. Ridiculous!


Nat said...

awesome review. :P
i thought mine was bad haha!
wow yeah you're right, i didnt feel she was genuine at all either.. she had made all those mistakes, i duno.. be a little more apologetic. be a little more invested.. BUT i guess it's not worth it for her since it's such a low cost - would be like 2$ per person, so not much in it for her.

Nat said...

btw wen we told her we had the wrong dessert she didnt even seem to apologize, just that she would get another one. ?!?!? hah like she was expecting it.. didnt u find her coming around a bit often? though, because she had to tend to the table behind us, it meant every time she would walk by 2x.

Natasha said...

Yea, well it might not be a lot of tip, but what she should be thinking is the future of the restaurant... getting REPEAT customers!
lol you think she expected it? I wonder.. when the kitchen lost our orders if she just tried to remember what we ordered... and took a stab at it for dessert and got it wrong.
haha and no I didn't find that she came around too often... just enough I guess... except when we were paying... she didn't come enough!