Saturday, April 19, 2008

SF Restaurant Reviews

As San Franciscans in the know, well, know, two rather chic new restaurants started by the Kuleto’s group have opened up along the Embarcadero. IMHO, they are to be avoided at all costs.

Epic Roasthouse, which I have (rather brilliantly) nicknamed Tragic Roasthouse was a sincere disappointment. If I wanted to pay that much for a three-hour meal, I would go to Michael Mina and have my foodie socks knocked off, thank you very much. And, just so we’re clear, the three hours was not due to leisurely dining a la Barcelona or Firenze. No no, this was a neglectful three hours. I won’t give you chapter and verse, but some lowlights include: a 25-minute wait for our table, being seated for 15 minutes before our menus appeared, having to remind the waiter and the busboy to bring us water the first time and every other time afterwards, at least 20 minutes between when our appetizers were cleared (which was 10 minutes after they should have been, which prompted a gentle query of the waiter where our food was and some lame “explanation” about how my date’s lamb chop was really thick and needed extra time to cook), very nice but not outstanding meat quality, and runny Hollandaise on our asparagus. To be fair the ambiance was cool and they did a very nice job on the birthday chocolate soufflé. But the cherry on my sundae of rage is twofold: 1) when I told the hostess on the way out, after she inquired, about the problems described above, rather than apologize she kindly instructed me that their meat takes a long time to cook, and 2) when I wrote a very even, un-hostile letter informing of their shortcomings and successes, I received no response. Too bad you don’t care about word of mouth, Tragic Roasthouse.

The next day, Barrett and I were sitting at Hi-Dive enjoying a burger and watching the UCLA game. The above had happened the night before, and so we speculated whether Waterbar (Tragic Roasthouse’s sister restaurant next door) were any better. So at halftime, knowing that there was a TV in the bar at Tragic Roasthouse, I called Waterbar to ask whether there were one there. The line was pregnant with aggrieved silence, and then the hostess (who I can only assume was running on low blood sugar) snapped haughtily, “We are a fine dining restaurant.” “I know,” I replied pleasantly. “My friend and I were enjoying the UCLA game and thought we would, as neighbors of yours, watch the second half there but didn’t want to make the trip without knowing if there was a television.” “We don’t have one in our bar. If you want dinner, I suppose I could help you with the restaurant” was her riposte. I will confess that, while my reply didn’t contain any expletives, it was not my finest moment. OK, a few comments

1) You are a hostess at a restaurant, missy. I have bussed tables, had food thrown at me, cleaned bathrooms, and done most every other kind of restaurant job (including being a host). Not a venue in which one should put on airs.

2) Even if you were going to put on airs, this is not the 80s (we’re—supposedly—in a recession), and you are not Dorsia (you are a new restaurant in a town with restaurants popping up like mushrooms after a rainstorm). You might want to try cultivating new relationships, especially with 30-somethings with disposable income who enjoy food and live four blocks from you.

3) Um, doesn’t your sister restaurant have a TV in its upstairs bar? If you think that’s so déclassé, you might want to talk to Mr. Kuleto.

So, friends, perhaps I can save you some aggravation and money. Stick to Town Hall!


Blogger Sally J. said...

Oh, no! My family actually went to the Roasthouse when my dad was in town a few weeks ago and had a good meal, but I'll add the downside that it is awfully loud.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Dan T said...

Charlie, You're too much!!! It's almost like having the pleasure of enjoying (well, experiencing) it with you. Have fun with this round in NYC!

Dan and the Gang

10:42 AM  
Blogger Dan T said...

P.S. Can't help but remind me of our "vacuous" waitperson at a wing joint some years ago...

10:44 AM  

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