Friday, March 25, 2011

Bardo - Edibles and Elixirs - Revisited, Norfolk, VA

I want to continue to love Bardo, but my friends and I had a very off night there recently. We had a reservation and were late. Our fault and put us on the first come, first serve list. No problem, the hostess said it should be about fifteen minutes. We were talking and having drinks and not completely watching the time. I started to take note at the thirty minute mark and asked the hostess our status. She said ‘it should just be a few more minutes’. This cat and mouse game continued with me asking and her saying a few minutes until we were seated over an hour after we arrived. Now, if she had simply told us the wait would be forty-five minutes to an hour, we maybe have made the decision to go elsewhere. But she did not go this route and instead repeatedly mislead us into thinking we would be seated soon. She seemed like a shy girl so maybe she was new and was not a pro at judging how long a table would take. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I kept coming up empty and irritated.

After we were finally seated, our waitress was nice and our food was pretty good. I ordered a few of my favorites, the hot nuts, the tofu pad Thai, the eggplant fries and a newer dessert, the fried vanilla bean cheesecake dumplings. The taste was fine, but the cracker consistency of the dumpling made them difficult to eat. There were three of these and the cream cheese was spread between two of these fried ‘dumplings’. A raspberry coulis was drizzled across the plate. The dumplings were more like crackers. I would not order these again and wish the dumpling had had a softer consistency. The rest of the table was pleased with their food as well. A mussel special, the rockfish special with a succotash, tuna tataki, more eggplant fries, the creme brulee duet, some dim sum doughnuts and a heaven and hell rounded out our meal.

Everyone was pleased with their drinks choices; a few beers, an Amakuchi, a Pacific Rim and some others. One in our party ordered a Thai Almond, a drink she has previously enjoyed. It consists of vodka, Kahlua, amaretto and coconut milk. It arrived looking pretty with a flower, but upon tasting, she made a face, indicating something was ‘off’ in the drink. Asking for problems, I tasted it when she asked and thought it was horrible. She said in the past, the drink was always smooth and this had an odd consistency, almost like cottage cheese. Gross, right? When the waitress came back around, my friend described the problem with the drink. The waitress apologized and asked if my friend wanted anything else in replacement. Since we were almost finished with dessert, she said no and asked for it to be removed from the bill. It seemed like a reasonable request to me, until I saw the waitress reappear with the same drink. I knew this would not be good. The waitress explained that the bartender told her that people had been returning drinks all night and that everything in the drink was on point (i.e no expired coconut milk) and that they would not remove the drink from the bar bill.
I was appalled. First, if drinks had been returned all night, might it not be the bartender who is the cause? Second, if a customer is not happy, a restaurant, or any other business, for that matter should do whatever they can to rectify the situation. The small amount of currency they lose on one drink should not deter them from making a customer happy. It seemed like the bartender was cranky because he or she had to remake a few drinks and took it out on my friend. A third point, why did the bartender make the nice waitress deliver the bad news instead of doing it herself or himself. We were all pretty ticked between the waiting game and the drink and I will probably not rush into Bardo anytime soon. I still like their food, but I can think of quite a few other places where I can spend my money and avoid meal drama.

My experience has shown me that contacting the restaurant after an incident like that above will usually garner an apology and sometimes more. Monday morning, following this Friday night affair, I emailed Bardo and nicely explained what had happened and how surprised I was, especially about the drink. It has been five days and I have not received a reply. I waited this long to write update our blog to see if I would get some type of response, even a simple apology and that management would speak with the staff. The lack of communication has left me with an even more sour taste in my mouth than that drink.

Here’s my two cents on Alex’s Bardo adventure. Next time, ask for the manager right when the incident happens. Don’t dink around with the worker bee’s. Especially the server. Those poor server’s are always the bearer of bad news from the kitchen, or the bar, or whomever else works behind the scenes and doesn’t have to “deal with” the public. Get the manager on duty to come to your table and lay it all out for them. This is the person the restaurant hired to handle these sorts of concerns. If he or she fails to address the situation properly, then you know without a doubt, that you can cross that restaurant permanently off your list.


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