this can't compare to pukey sushi, or bandaids, but here goes my last really bad experience.
one of my wife's favorite restaurants, back when we were restaurant hopping about twice a week (before the birth of our first child about 22 months ago), was the south city grille in rochelle park, nj.
we probably frequented the place about every three weeks or so; she would go more often with her girlfriends for drinks.
i had always thought the place was mediocre at best; dw loved it. admittedly, it is nicely decorated in a neon/art deco/ocean decor. but you paid decent prices for usually decent food. usually. occasionally, i would have gotten a better meal in a sit down pizza place. still, they were the ones that got me hooked on seared and spiced ahi tuna, lobster mashed potatoes, espresso creme brulee', and harney and sons teas.
unfortunately, the last time we went, for our 1st anniversary, baby in tow, we noticed a complete change-over of staff, and both the meal and the experience were horrible.
firstly, our waiter took our drink and appetizer orders, then disappeared for about 25 minutes. he came back with our oysters, my wife's apple "martini" (i hate using that term for scnapps and vodka in a martini glass), and a glass of cheap merlot, mine, that was barely enough to be considered a full glass, and full of cork bits. not to be one to complain, and jones'in for a drink, we gave him our entree order and started in.
ughhh, the oysters were dry, fishy, and almost leathery. there was no liquer, except for the melted ice on the plate, as if the oysters were schucked hours before, then left out under a fan in the refrigerator.
well, it was a bad start, but we've survived many of those before
so we downed our drinks looking to order another round.
and we waited, and waited. now i understand why they are called waiters...
finally, (maybe another 20 minutes), when we thought our entree's were arriving, we were surprised to find out that they were out of my wife's order, so she'd have to get something else. so we ordered another round of drinks.
eventually our dinners came, along with our drinks. we had been there over an hour by then, and had only been served 2 rounds of crappy drinks and a bad appy. i was ready to let the waiter know my displeasure, but i didn't want to make things worse on our special date. dw's entree was OK, but my seafood fra diavolo over pasta was ice cold, the pasta overcooked and watery, and most of the seafood were just giant, tough mussels. and to top it off, they put cheese on it without asking first. i tried to complain to our waiter, but he was nowhere to be found, again. when dw went to the restrooms to change the baby, said she saw him by the bar watching football with a few other waiters, but couldn't get his attention across a group of large guys while carrying the baby.
another 15 minutes passed, our waiter arrived all freakin smiley and friendly and apologetic (trying to blame the manager for not enough staff on hand that night), asking how our dinner was, and how old my son was. i told him flat out that everything sucked; that apologies only work when something is comp'd, hint hint; and then made a joke about the score of the giants game to lighten the mood, ya know, grease the wheels a bit. he had no problem telling me how the game was going, trying to make conversation and complimenting us on our cute son. so i remarked that he should try to pay as much attention to his customers while they were eating, not when it's time to try to drum up a tip. i'm not sure if the look on his face was stunned because he was insulted, or vacant, because he just didn't understand what i meant.
well, after getting a check without anything comp'd, i made sure to give the check, about $145 to the hostess, not the waiter, explaining to her that the reason for the 5 percent tip was the incredibly bad service (again, my wife enjoyed her entree, hence 5 percent), but all the hostess did was give me that look that only a big haired, heavily painted jersey chick in a skin tight dress can. she could have chilled a good pinot grigio in seconds with that look.
well, that's my story. like i said, we used to go there very often and were usually satisfied, but had only been back the the one time in the last 2 years, for now obvious reasons.
i wonder if they've ever gotten their act straightened out?