Monday, May 26, 2008


Here at Boilermaker Kitchen, most of the time I talk about cooking food. But this time I want to talk about eating it. More importantly, I want to talk about and eating experience I had this past weekend in Chicago. Some friends and I decided to try out Avec, one of the top restaurants in Chicago known for tapas with an Italian and French Flare. The chef has been featured on Top Chef (as was the owner), it gets good reviews, and really interests me in terms of new cuisine. We put in for a table at about six, told it would be an hour, enjoyed a drink, and thought nothing of it. Two and a half hours later we were sat. Now, let me be the first to say that waiting a long time stinks, but I understand that it happens. It was a Saturday over Memorial Day. No problem. What I did have a problem with was the tables that walked up over an hour after us (they take no reservations) and were seated almost immediately after it was revealed they knew some of the staff. Hmmm, not cool. Treat your regulars nice, sure, but shafting your other customers is not a great idea.

After we were seated the service was mediocre at best. The waitress was in such a hurry to turn our table it seemed that she forgot one of our dishes and barely spoke to us. And the food? It was ok. The chorizo stuffed dates were tasty, though I was a bit disappointed when my gnocchi came with a pretty stringy pesto and popcorn sized shrimp. So it was just alright. Oh, and I almost forgot the foil experience. In my lovely glass of water that was refilled at top speed (complete with splashing all over me), I was treated to a nice big piece of foil in my water glass. I guess that was their way of telling me to drink wine.

I think I would have enjoyed the meal more had the service been a bit better. This just goes to show how important service and treatment of the customer can affect a meal. We were all a little preoccupied with what was going on with our wait staff instead of focusing more on our meal. It is not just the food in a restaurant that make it wonderful. And it's not just the treatment of the high rolling regulars that frequent it. It is the way the average, everyday customer is received and made to feel welcome at the establishment. Without service the food is just stuff on a plate. Nothing more. Sadly, I will not return to this place as I was pretty soured by the experience. Hopefully they note their behavior and try to bring some great service into an otherwise nice place.

On a separate note, I had lunch at Little Louie's Red Hots in Northbrook, IL (north of Chicago). One of the best hot dogs I have ever eaten, period. Go check it out, you will not be sorry.


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