Thursday, April 22, 2010

Use Your Words: Charlie Palmer Steak

The following was my original post after our latest lunch liaison at Charlie Palmer Steak. It did not go well:

These are the times when I appreciate having a blog. Because even though the folks at Charlie Palmer Steak decided we were not worth their efforts, my opinion is nevertheless out there for public consumption, to be regarded or to be ignored, your choice. The latest lunch liaison was a complete and utter failure (I've tried to start using FAIL, but I just like proper grammar too much). In case any of you were wondering, Charlie Palmer Steak is still a Hill see and be seen establishment, but not a dining destination.

The meal spiraled downhill quickly when old white guys in suits were seated whilst we waited at the hostess stand to be seated - what appeared to me as a snub as the manager circled around us to seat more important folks. The bread selection and appetizers were good (tuna tartare and seven veggie salad), but less than 10 minutes after they arrived, our entrees appeared hovering over us. My request to wait until I'd finished my salad to serve the entrees resulted in everything going under the warmer for another 10 minutes, including the limp frissee and arugula of my filet mignon salad. Not that my cut of meat masquerading as filet could have been saved. I don't profess to be an expert in butchery, but I know that a clear ripple of fat is not part of a filet. The aforementioned warm, limp greens were also heavily salted. The small saving grace on the plate was the palatable 4-minute fried egg. C's hangar steak was better (though hardly worth $24), but doused in sauce to make up for its dried condition.  I don't think other options would have been better - the crabcake looked like something served at an outdoor festival, accompanied by what appeared to be cole slaw from the Costco party bucket. The quality of the food was disappointing enough, but our service was also horrendous. Ask my friends, I ain't got no got no got no poker face, so there could have been no question that I was disappointed in the condition of our entrees. However, the service captain's inquiry as to our meals was not even regarded with an attempt to listen to the answer (for clarification, I actually said "it's just ok", but his back was already turned).  The server also looked displeased when I requested that another $8 bottle of water not be served (yeah, we're not padding tips on miserable experiences here). At $105 before tip (with my side of the table consisting of basically two plates of salad greens; one of which was served warm), there was no chance we were ordering dessert. We won't be back, and hope others will take my warning to heart. And before I get ahead of myself, let me clarify that I filled out the comment card (with no mention of the blog, in case you were curious), though I will not hold my breath for a response. 

Well, as it turns out, I did not have to hold my breath. Less than an hour after I'd posted my comment card, I received a phone call from manager Dave Lavery (which took some research - presumably through my Open Table account - because I only provided my email address for contact). I was not in the mood to rehash the specifics, but he soldiered on to make sure that he had done everything he could to try to make amends. That much I appreciate. He noted that he had spoken with the chef, and that it was not acceptable. I would have appreciated an explanation as to how the food was served in that state, but perhaps Mr. Lavery sensed that I did not want to go round and round reliving the experience. In the end, he was rather insistent that we should not have to pay for our meal. I was not and still am not entirely comfortable with accepting that offer, but I relented in order to return to my workday.

So what do you think? Does it repair an otherwise unpleasant experience to not have to pay for the disaster? Would you return if you were in our shoes? Should we have accepted the restaurant comping the meal, or should we have continued to refuse?

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