Sometimes it's hard to live up to a name.
After perusing the Restaurant Week menus online, Mr Minx declared that he found Alchemy's menu to be the most appealing, so we made a reservation to eat there fairly early last Thursday night. When we arrived at 6pm, we were the only customers in the downstairs area. After placing our order with our waiter, who promised to "take care of us," we were brought some warm rolls and butter to nibble as we waited. After a longer wait than anticipated, our appetizers arrived.
While not in the least what we expected, we loved it and found ourselves wishing that the restaurant had provided a spoon, or more bread with which to mop up the juices.
About halfway through our appetizers, our entrées made an unwelcome appearance that required the table to be rearranged to accommodate the three additional dishes. The server volunteered to take our obviously unfinished apps away, and I almost slapped her hand. At that point in the evening, while several more parties had arrived since we sat down, most were still perusing the menu. So WHY, pray tell, did they rush our entrées? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it our waiter's responsibility to check on our progress and request that our entrées be fired so that they arrive AFTER our apps have been eaten (and hopefully, their plates cleared)? How was our waiter "taking care of us" if he let this happen? I think that I wouldn't have been as mad as I was (am) had he come to our table and apologized for the error. Not only did he not say a word (he didn't even pay the traditional visit to the table to ask how things were while our mouths were full), but even after we had finished our apps and there were obviously empty dishes on the table, he did not remove them. Because he did not see them. I watched him every time he passed us and he didn't so much as cast an eye in our direction. And it's not because he was busy.
Notice I am not mentioning his name, although I remember it (rare - I'm terrible with names).
Eventually, a busboy took pity on us and removed the empty appetizer plates so we could eat our entrées unencumbered.
Our waiter finally made an appearance in time to doggy-bag the rest of my entrée.
So...a very uneven meal. I have read accounts of similar experiences, so I can't say I was surprised. And while I can forgive food issues if the quality is good overall, I think the service issues are quite a problem. I expect poor timing in a diner or a hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant, but not in a fine-dining establishment. Part of me thinks that the kitchen forgot about our appetizers and went straight to cooking the entrées, which is why there was a delay in getting the first course out earlier. That indicates an issue with the kitchen, but still does not excuse the indifference of our waiter. Some people might point to the fact that this was Restaurant Week and that many kitchens are not fond of the event because it's too busy, profits aren't what they might be otherwise, etc. etc. yadda yadda. But one of the functions of RW is to introduce diners, by means of an attractive price point, to restaurants they may not ordinarily have visited. If restaurants want these newbies to return with open wallets, they have to make sure the customers leave happy. Or at least not pissed-off.
Alchemy Modern American Eatery
1011 W 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211
Posted by theminx on Minxeats.com.