Letters of the Month – Hospitality Hell
“We (restaurateurs) are not in the food business; we are in the hospitality business.” – Sirio Maccioni
ELV note: We take a few weeks off and things start going to hell in a hand-basket. Not with the food being dished up by some of our favorite restaurants, mind you, but with their service. Submitted for your (dis)approval: three recent tales of woe….
Dear Eating Las Vegas,
Hello, we are from the Chicagoland area and enjoy reading your restaurant reviews. Since it’s late (actually early) I’ll get right
to the point. My wife and I ate at Estiatorio Milos this evening, we shared the snapper, the fried zucchini with tzatziki (the Milos Special) and a baklava.
As of this moment we are both currently in our suite at the Encore throwing up and dry heaving. The way I’m feeling right now, diarrhea is probably on the way as well. Hooray!
So that you know, we are both attorneys but are not overly litigious and are not looking to hurry-up and sue someone. In fact that’s the last thing we’d want. But we are kinda pissed off. This was our one big getaway. If this thing passes quickly, the more likely we are to forget about it. If it does not, then someone owes us a vacation.
What I’m wondering is whether this has become a problem, that you know of, at this particular restaurant. My wife called the restaurant. The conversation did not go well. We were not clear who this guy was (that she spoke with) as he had an accent and was somewhat hard to understand. The bottom line was that he did not believe her and since we’re from out of town there is nothing he can do. Huh?
A bit of concern really would have gone a long way. Instead that conversation only firmed up our resolve to tell people about it. She was going to contact the restaurant again or the hotel itself- will talk to you first. Thanks again and will be speaking to you soon.
We are also wondering in your experience how long something like this typically takes to work itself out.
Hopefully you can offer some insight. Thank you.
ELV note #2: If a spoiled Saturday night while on vacation wasn’t bad enough, we received this missive, on Valentine’s Day eve, from a disappointed diner whose dinner turned dreadful:
Dear Mr. Curtas,
You need to review this place (Marche Bacchus) again – 2nd bad meal in a row and simply horrific service. Where to begin?
They over sold the restaurant for Valentines day. The table they sent us to was still occupied; so found another. We were eventually seated and 20 minutes elapsed before they got around to opening the wine. The $75 prix fixe menu was billed as beginning with champagne and soup as a first course. No champagne.
I was presented with a tea spoon for the soup because they ran out of soup spoons at 7:30 pm. Soup was almost cold. Roasted veritable salad was really raw vegetables; medium filets were raw. Small bowl of berries and vanilla mousse for dessert.
Champagne finally showed up 90 minutes and 4 requests late. And I almost forgot the mandatory 18% gratuity at the end of the night made it very special.
Never again. Simply a terrible Valentine’s Day dinner.
Let Down and Livid Leon
ELV note #3: Finally several readers wrote rants reviling our renowned recent rave review recommending a repast at 1900 Asian Cuisine, the most relevant of which requires reciting:
After reading rave reviews on your site about this restaurant I decided to give it a try. Absolutely piss poor establishment. I expect poor service at a Chinese restaurant but the service I experienced at this poor excuse for a restaurant was abominable. I thought perhaps the food would make up for the horrific service however that was a let down as well. The hot and sour soup was impressive however the various other dishes recommended by the waiter were horrible. They smelt funny, tasted horrible, and caked your mouth with salt. This restaurant review made me lose all respect for the palate I thought you had. You know nothing about cuisine.
ELV note #4: Not content to revel in his remonstrations, the writer then rudely repeated:
This place is awful. Horrible service and horrible food. Any respect for your palate I might have had is gone. You know nothing about cuisine.
Deigning to Denigrate Denzel
To Ralphing Robert,
We at ELV are saddened and surprised by your news of such an uncomfortable experience at Milos. Any restaurant, no matter how diligent, can serve a piece of contaminated food. So, we are not surprised that you got sick (and from all you have told us, it does seem like a classic case of low grade food poisoning — such as a Campylobacter infection). What concerns us more was the restaurant’s response to your malady. People who dine at a top flight place like Milos are not the sorts who go around trying to scam restaurants out of money or free meals. As you said, a little concern and an apology would have gone a long way to making you feel better.
As much as we love Milos (and we consider it one of the ten best restaurants in town), the response you describe is disappointing and another example of our find-em-and-fleece-em tourist economy. In any other town, the establishment would make amends and bend over backwards to keep you as a customer. In Sin City, it’s a numbers game, and too many places care more about what convention is going to fill up their behemoth of a eatery, rather than trying to solicit a single customer’s repeat business.
Your letter also brings up an important point: What is the appropriate response for a restaurant when confronted with a situation such as yours? In high end joints, one would expect a more solicitous response — a small amount of appeasement and apology, if you will, coupled with a mild, polite disclaimer stating that it IS possible that your illness could have come from somewhere else. We will leave it to our commenters to enlighten us on this point.
To Let Down and Livid Leon,
As we mentioned on Facebook, Valentine’s Day is the second worst day of the year to eat out (Mother’s Day is the absolute worst; a noshing nightmare, a tsunami of stressful service and sorry sustenance – by a long shot). Regardless of your poor choice of dining days, the situation you describe should have been dealt with by speaking to the management rather early in the nightmare you experienced. A well placed (and polite) complaint early in the meal (with the management, not the waitron) often results in crackerjack service throughout the rest of your visit.
We understand that on special occasions, people do not want to complain or deal with confrontations — no matter how civilized they might be — but putting in a word early on can save you many a headache later. That being said, your server (and the manager on duty) should have been aware of the cascade of service lapses you were experiencing, and it was their responsibility to make things right….and they should have….before you got home to your keyboard.
Unfortunately, since we are well known to many places both on and off the Strip, we generally don’t review or comment on the service we receive (with the occasional exception such as you will read below).
To Denigrating Denzel,
We are forced to agree with you on the service at 1900 Asian Cuisine. A recent visit found the place in such disarray that we walked out before half of our meal could be served. This was after waiting an hour for our food, at lunchtime, in a restaurant with four other customers. Three different people came out to “wait” on us, and they each disappeared (one even left the premises entirely) for long stretches in which no one was in the dining room. (A party of four Chinese people came in, got menus, and was left hanging for 25 minutes before they left in disgust.)
When service is this bad after the place has garnered glowing review after glowing review, someone is clearly not minding the store, and we can no longer recommend the restaurant — no matter how good the xiao long bao and hot and sour soup are.
As for “know(ing) nothing about cuisine,” your comments about things that “smelt funny” “tasted horrible” and “caked your mouth with salt” leads one to believe you are far from acquainted with authentic Chinese food — much of which does all of those things to a palate weaned on kung pao chicken, egg foo yung and sweet and sour pork. For those looking for the real deal, 1900 has the goods, if you can get them brought to your table.