Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smug Slug

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar, in Hayes Valley boasts top chef Jamie Lauren as its executive chef who slaves away over their stove. While she has concocted many delicious dishes to chose from the July menu, the escargot in shells is a fitting dish for our purposes. Escargot, also known as snails in the English language, are thought to be a delicacy in many cultures. The French, Spanish, Portuguese, Sicilian, Greek and Germanic cultures all have different ways of preparing the mollusk, however the French method is perhaps the most widely known. Absinthe prepares them in the traditional French manner; poached, served dripping with parsley butter and crispy garlic toasts. When our original server brings escargot tongs and snail forks to the table I joke with him about having a Pretty Woman moment, Julia Roberts status. In the movie a skilled, agile server discreetly catches a flying shell midair, to save her any further embarrassment. I probably won't be as lucky. A food runner brings out the escargot when another server comes to inform us that she will pick up where our first server left off. We all scoop up a snail from the share plate and dig in. The texture is chewy. Less chewy than a clam, but more chewy than a mussel. The parsley butter goes extremely well with the taste of the snail which is earthy, sort of like a mushroom but not so woody. I can't tell you where the snails come from because Sarah, our second server never came back with an answer. But I can tell you that they were DELICIOUS. Everything the kitchen churned out was excellent. The Absinthe experience could be amazing if their service were not so poor. I say this because there is something wrong with every course brought out to us. While waiting for our table in the cafe, our first server forgets the fries and someone's cocktail. During our first course, in which the snails are included, a friend re-orders his salad because one of the ten servers we have over the course of the night forgets that. During the second course, the fried-green tomatoes that are supposed to come with, as described on the menu, are missing from my plate. We have to literally grab Sarah's attention, stopping just short of pulling out a bullhorn to ask for a wine list when I am ready for a second glass. By the time she comes back to take my drink order the rest of the table has finished their drinks and are also waiting to reorder. For dessert, I order one kind of cheese, the manager, in an attempt (I think) to make up for all of the previous mishaps brings out three. A very nice gesture, but then we are charged for three when I only ordered one. It's not until we speak up that the problem is remedied. Finally, I ask to have my phenomenal ribeye plate wrapped to go and no one ever brings it out. A shame, perhaps they were just having an off night. Delicious food, disgusting service. 398 Hayes Street, (415) 551-1590

1 comment:

  1. the food was definitely delicious. the service on the other hand was found lacking, but not just from our our server, sarah. it was definitely a team effort from absinthe.

    the first guy (Im gonna call him alfred) who was taking care of us in the lounge should've written our order down. not only did he forget our order of fries, he also forgot my drink order. he came back and said "im so sorry i spaced out for a second". as a server this has happened to me before, but i always make sure it doesnt happen again.

    while we were enjoying our cocktails in the lounge, alfred disappears without explanation and sends over another girl with a ponytail to take care of us (who discovered our fries hadnt been rung in)

    once we finally move to the table alfred magically reappears, proceeds to take our order down and still manages to make a mistake. it was actually alfred who forgets to ring in the salad. once the food starts showing up, thats when we finally meet sarah. she seemed a tad flustered when she first came onto the floor (maybe she shouldnt have taken a break during peak dining hours).

    Now BOH employees...they forgot to put the much anticipated fried-green-tomato croutons on the ribeye dish. if you really think about it, it takes 3 people to f*ck this up.
    1) the cook who plates the food - this person is responsible for puting all the food on this plate. whoever who in charge last night put the food in the window too early
    2) the expeditor - the expeditor's job is to make sure that every dish leaving the kitchen has every component listed on the menu, plate is clean and looks presentable, and is garnished properly. last night he/she missed the tomato croutons
    3) food runner - when you're looking at the same dishes for hours at a time, he should've know if the dish looked different. the food runner is the last person to handle the plate before it gets set down in front of the guest, so therefore he was also responsible.

    ahhh...i could probably go on and on about who wasnt doing their jobs properly last night...

    im definitely disappointed with my experience at absinthe.