The first time I went to Meat & Potatoes, I had a ball. The service was great, the food seemed great, the drinks…a little too great. I got tipsy. Not sloppy fall-down drunk, just buzzed enough to render my memories of the evening a little hazy. I went with a big group of friends and I left feeling happy and satisfied. I felt I should go a second time for the review. Amy joined me for my do-over dinner. We approached our weekday dinner with much enthusiasm and only the best intentions. This review is of that second experience at Meat and Potatoes.
Which is worse? Swatting fruit flies from your wine as you wait for 60 minutes for your dinner? Or figuring out that your dinner is probably an abbreviated version of the one that was promised? Or maybe the worst thing is finally getting the guts to speak to the floor manager about the problems of your experience, only to find that he wasn’t listening whatsoever?
Welcome to Meat & Potatoes.
I’m having trouble figuring how to write this article. I suppose I started with a bunch of questions because I’m actually curious. Which is the worst offense? A long wait for mediocre food only to be followed by a dessert course of bullshit seems pretty hard to…
Actually, that’s not so hard to write about.
On July 20, Amy and I met at the restaurant, full of hunger and expectations. “The best new place in town,” we’d heard, and “drunk & satisfied,” I’d said.
We were right on time for our 7:15pm reservation. We browsed the menus and ordered dinner around 7:25.
We began with a bottle of Clifford Bay Pinot Noir 2009 ($32). I’m not sure why, but I’d like to refer to this wine as “spiffy.” It was a spiffy red wine. It was fine.
Our Mushroom Flatbread arrived and smelled so, so good! Amy commented that she “would definitely come back” after only a couple of bites! The flatbread was served in four slices-a perfect size for two to share. The layers of flavor and texture encouraged me to feel satisfied: Fresh, floury dough under a salty, creamy mixture of truffles and taleggio, ricotta, and pecorino romano cheeses. An impressive start! My friend and I talked and sipped wine between happy bites.
Then, we waited. And waited. And m’fing waited. For one hour, we waited while our sweet, but inattentive server rushed past our table time and time again, his eyes to the ceiling or buried in his notebook.
While we were waiting, I became aware of a couple of men sitting two small tables down from us. The theatre crowd had cleared out, and these two men had been seated after us. One appeared to be about 60 years old, the other 25-30ish. They received their flatbread starter shortly after we received ours. Then, minutes after their app plates were cleared, they received their dinners! What the hell?!
Apparently, one of the men had been served an underdone burger. I overheard, “This burger is rare. He had ordered ‘medium’. Take this off our bill,” and he handed the plate back to the server. No argument. No back-and-forth. I didn’t hear an apology or an attempt to recify the man’s meal. Hmm. The men paid their tab, and left Meat and Potatoes.
If you’re going to have the word “meat” in the name of the restaurant, do try to cook a burger properly, at least.
We waited 45 minutes before we were acknowledged by our server or manager. We’d been trying to catch someone’s eye, but could not. Eventually, the manager came over and offered us a second bottle of wine. Thank you, but where is our food? Now we’re incredulous. What is going on here? Nice gesture, but how about an explanation?
Amy’s moules & my bolognese finally arrive. 8:22pm. Amy waited a little while longer for her bread. She took back that bit about coming back again. The moules rested in a light curry sauce made with lemongrass, chili, kaffir lime, cilantro, and coconut milk. They smelled wonderful, but I’m not a fan of mussels, so I didn’t try them. She liked them, I think.
My bolognese tasted a little heavy on the nutmeg, and the taste of the dish varied per bite. I wondered if I was eating chorizo instead of the promised pancetta. (Also, chorizo was on the “Specials List” for the evening. Interesting.) Now, I could be wrong about what exact versions of pork were in that bolognese, but I do know that it reminded me of breakfast sausage in red sauce. I also know that I loved the pappardelle noodles. I liked the noodles enough to eat just a little less than half the dish, but I ate around the meat (which is tough to do with a bolognese!)
My pasta was served with garlic bread, but I could not eat it. It smelled and tasted like it had been sprayed and saturated with PAM. Chemical garlic. Ew.
We paid about $100.00 for a meal that we waited an hour for, and barely ate.
Our incredulity turned to anger, and we debated how to proceed. Instead of shrugging it off and not really doing ourselves or the restaurant any justice, we decided to speak with the manager again. When he came to check on us, we diplomatically and unemotionally told the manager about our dinner’s shortcomings. Personality was the word that was suddenly so important to us. Why were we being ignored? Why didn’t someone, if not our server then the manager, come to tell us what had happened to our meals? Honestly, isn’t that the manager’s job?
As we calmly tried to get some answers, the manager spoke over us. He interrupted. He stood the whole time, talking down to us. He did not apologize. After our short and seemingly pointless conversation with him, Amy & I decided to have a cigarette outside, then come in to talk and drink the last half of our complimentary wine. We wanted to shrug it off and enjoy what was left of our evening. We asked the manager 4 times (4! Separate! Times!) to please leave our table alone…do not clear it…we’re going out for a cigarette…we’ll be right back…He agreed nicely and gave us the OK…they would absolutely not clear the table…
We light our butts and four minutes outside pass. We do not trash our meal. We decided that maybe we were too early to judge the new restaurant. After all, M & P had only opened 6 weeks earlier. We agreed to visit again in two months on Sept 20, and then we would know for sure what Meat and Potatoes is truly made of.
As soon as we walked back into the dining room, we could see that our table had been cleared. Clean as a whistle, if whistles had orbiting fruit flies.
She and I said it at almost the same exact time.
DONE. We stuck around just long enough to show the manager that our table had been cleared. He played dumb and acted baffled. He passed the buck onto some poor runner/busser, who obviously had no idea what he was talking about. Instead of taking responsibility as the manager of the restaurant, he offered to give us our wine bottle back from the garbage pile on the bar. It’s next stop was obviously going to be the garbage can underneath it. From three feet away, I could see the tiny flies above it. “Would you like your wine back? I see it right there, I can get it for you.” Uhh, no thanks.
That was it. He did not apologize, he did not shake our hands. He did not invite us to give them another shot. It felt like I was being punished, but for what I have no idea. I had been well-behaved, polite, and understanding. I do not understand.
There will be no September 20 dinner at Meat and Potatoes. I think of “meat and potatoes” as sort of a basic take on food. Sadly, this restaurant is lacking the two most basic components that will ensure success: exceptional food and exceptional service. Yes, the restaurant is gorgeous. Yes, the bar is beautifully lit and boasts some impressive drinks. Some things show great potential for this new “hot spot”. Unfortunately, consistency and good service just aren’t two of those things.