|via Toronto Sun
Every once in a while, though, you hit a restaurant on an off night. I've chosen to believe that's what happened to us recently. I've chosen to believe that a near-universally highly regarded establishment in our northwest corner of Vermont was having an off night when we made our first visit. As such, I am also choosing not to name said establishment in my post. They also did right by us at the end of the evening which certainly helped me in feeling forgiving.
There were warning signs early. The hostess - also the co-owner, we later learned - seated us rather hurriedly. Then it took a while for our waitress to even come by for a drink order, long enough for my wife to ask if we had a Plan B for dinner. She got my beer order wrong. She forgot to tell us the specials, causing some confusion when she finally took our food order. Little things in themselves, but a pattern was set for the evening. On the rare occasion when we'd see our waitress, she seemed preoccupied. Tables near us, serviced by other waitresses, were turning over a lot more quickly. The food itself wasn't bad and we thought about dessert but as my wife said, "I don't want to give them any more of our money."
Eventually we had to practically tackle another waitress just to get our check and she picked up on our unhappiness. The hostess came over to make amends and we learned what had happened. A cook had gotten ill and gone home. Our waitress, the only member of the waitstaff qualified to help out in the kitchen, was pulling double duty.
It was, to a point, an understandable situation. Even high-end restaurants get a wrench in the works from time to time. But especially for the amount of money one puts down for such a meal, the staff should be better able to weather such a storm. Knowing they were one down, tables could have been reassigned and tips shared. The hostess herself should have made doubly-, triply-sure we were covered. It didn't happen.
Once she realized our dissatisfaction, the hostess moved quickly to make it right. She comped our meal and even gave us a $25 gift card to encourage our return. It wasn't enough to save the evening but it was perhaps enough to keep us from writing the place off forever.