Today was our fourth, and quite possibly our last, trip to Northside Grille. We’ve never been for dinner, only for lunch/brunch. Previous visits have found the food to be decent, basic grub. Nothing fancy or adventurous. The kind of place where, if your home fried potatoes are little cold, you let it slide. Service was always a weak point but you adjust your expectations based on the restaurant and the Grille’s service wasn’t bad enough to complain about, until now.
We were wrapping up running errands and decided that a little lunch was in order. Our first choice was to swing by Kitchen 64 but the parking lot was full and you could see the line coming out the door so, as we’ve done on more than one occasion, we headed to our back-up, Northside Grille.
The restaurant was maybe half-full and we were seated immediately. The waitress, however, took a little longer. She was having a good time playing with a toddler and chatting with some friends at another table. When she did finally return to her job you got the distinct impression that she was annoyed at you for taking her away from her friends. I’m all for spending time your friends but if that’s what your doing then clock out and give the table to someone else.
OK, moving on. First we ordered drinks. Lemonade for Finn and I. She returns with M’s drink. Lemonade’s not working. Not sure what the waitress meant by that but it sounds like it’s not homemade. Fine, cranberry juice. Then we ordered.
To start I gave into my weakness, bisque, in this case, crab. It arrived with soup slopped over the sides and several croutons on top. Whoops, not croutons but vaguely seasoned stale bread cubes. I’m not sure if that was the intent but they weren’t really necessary. The soup was a little spicy but not all that bad. Thickened with perhaps a bit too much roux leaving a trace of uncooked flour flavours it had a generous amount of crab that you could taste. The spice level was high enough that I finished my cranberry juice, as the waitress couldn’t be bothered to bring water or ask if we needed refills so I started drinking Finn’s.
Sandwiches arrived, and they were wrong, or at least M’s was. She had asked for onion rings, fries came instead. Don’t know if the kitchen made the error but I suspect it was the waitress in her rush back to her friends when ringing in the order. The plate went back and then returned with just the sandwich and a promise of rings to come. He apologized (not sure where the waitress was, not waiting tables obviously) and left. The waitress finally came by to check and asked if we needed anything. I commented on the rings, no apology from her but she asked if we needed anything else, I replied on the need for more liquids and she took off. When she returned she slammed the three glasses on the table, splashing the table, and asked if we needed any thing else. I wanted mayo for my fries. Moments later, walking by without a word nor slowing down, she slammed it onto the table.
I had now reached my breaking point.
She walked by, trying to avoid eye contact but glanced at me when I requested a manager. And…. nothing. Time passed and no one came by. I was losing my appetite. My French Dip was mediocre. The meat was good, no gristle or fatty parts, but the mushrooms tasted canned and the bread was truly substandard, reminded me of elementary cafeteria. When I picked up the second half of the sandwich I found that the jus had been sloshed onto the plate and the bottom of the sandwich was falling apart. Stick a fork in me, I was done.
I caught the eye of another employee and made another request for a manager. The waitress finally returned to tell there wasn’t one. No apologies, no attempts to try to fix the situation, nothing. I asked for the phone number of the owner. She returned with a folded piece of paper, smacked it onto the table and, without a word, walked away.
More time passed, Finn was getting restless, no check, no clearing of the plates. We were no longer guests, we were treated as an annoyance that would only be dealt with if it was necessary. I asked someone else for the check and entertained Finn over in an little play area with crayons and picture books. The waitress took it to M who paid and left her 15% (very low for us but more than I would have left). The waitress did not apologize probably happy that we were leaving and she could stop feigning looking busy and get back to socializing.
As soon as I got home I called SC, the owner, she was very apologetic. She was a bit put off that I had been told there was no manager. The kitchen manager is in charge when there is no floor manager. I guess the staff didn’t care to bother him/her. She took some more information and promised to get back to me. A while later DS, billing himself as a manager there, called. He listened but kept trying to move the conversation to a close and some sort of gift certificate to get us back. I persisted on telling the whole story, filling in gaps that P, the waitress, had either left out or glossed over. By the end of the conversation I think he finally grasped how rotten we had been treated. Sadly, he let slip that this waitress works more shifts than anybody and how hard it is to find people this time of year. Take that how you will.
They are sending us a certificate for a free lunch. I have no idea whether we will actually use it or re-gift it.