Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef Premiere Party

So Mr Minx and I went to the TC premiere party at Red Maple last night. I've wanted to eat at Red Maple for a few years now, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

When I signed up and forked over my $35 per person + fee + 20% tip x 2, the Baltimore Foodies site said there were 50 openings. That seemed adequate. But when I checked the RM site on Tuesday to confirm that the actual location of the restaurant matched the one in my brain, I saw the number had escalated sharply to 125 people and that only 26 spots were left.

Arriving at the restaurant at precisely 8:30pm, we realized that this would have been a good time to be early, rather than our usual merely punctual: there was a line outside the door. Once in, we saw that the entire area of seating near the large TV was occupied, with many people standing around. There were well over 100 people in attendance. The place was packed.

The night club masquerading as a restaurant was very dark, the front room appeared lit only by candles and fireplaces. Seriously obnoxious and loud music played in the background. Well, it was too loud to be background music. Accordingly, voices were raised to be heard over the din. And the shrieking 20-something females were abundant. (Why do you shriek so? For God's sake, you're not 7 anymore.)

We grabbed a banquette by the fireplace in the front room, away from the crowd, and I soon noticed that people were walking around with small plates of food. It looked to be crackers, cheese, and fruit. A quick trip to the area that the food seemed to come from confirmed this. Huh? Where were the promised "heavy hors d'oeuvres?"

Whilst Mr Minx was on his mission to check out the cheese tray, a middle-aged couple approached his side of the banquette. "Is this seat taken?" the scrawny chinless woman in blue asked. Without looking at her - my eyes were on my husband bravely attacking a fresh platter of duck samosas that was making its way up the stairs - I said yes, it was taken. It was loud in there, but I would swear she said, "I feel sorry for him then." WTF did I do to deserve such a comment? Because I didn't smile and act friendly and offer to move over so she could fit her scrawny ass on the seat too? Bitch.

The food had started coming out of the kitchen around 9pm in the form of passed hors d'oeuvres. Waitrons with trays started taking food up the stairs into the back room, neglecting the area in which my husband and I sat. Finally a tray of spicy tuna tartare with mango appeared and we managed to snag a couple. Eventually, we realized that sitting quietly by the fireplace was not going to score us any food, particularly when there were hungry hordes standing around waiting to attack anybody carrying a tray with anything resembling edibles.

After another half hour of fighting the crowds for measly morsels and realizing we would have to stand at the back of a crowded room to strain to see the TV, we called it quits and went home to watch the show in the quietude of our basement. A good thing we did, as the restaurant lost their cable signal....

Unfortunately, this was an idea that at first seemed great but went awry. I place no blame on Baltimore Foodies, but on the poor planning of the restaurant management. Had they kept the party small, it would have been fantastic. (Also, if they had kept the sound system turned down to a low roar. And had the cable worked.)

Also, let me give credit where credit is due: the food, what little we got, was quite yummy. We particularly enjoyed the tangerine beef and noodles that came in tiny Chinese food take-out cartons. And congrats to Chef Jill for making it through episode one! Now take your talent to a real restaurant where people don't have to dine around coffee tables while sitting on backless ottomans and shouting over loud music.


David Dust said...

You should have popped that Beyotch in the mouth!


Nanc Twop said...

...went home to watch the show in the quietude of our basement. A good thing we did, as the restaurant lost their cable signal....

There's a tasty bit of Instant Karma for you - remind me to stay on your good side.


Anonymous said...

I've only been to Red Maple once and "nightclub masquerading as a restaurant" is exactly right. I was embarrassed to take a friend there, having thought it would be a cool foodie haven.



Anonymous said...

Wednesday night was meant to celebrate Jill, and Baltimore. And that was the driving force of the premiere party.

I came up with the idea, and sold the tickets. Red Maple drove the planning. In their defense, a couple of things, out of their control, did occur.

Total attendees exeeded our projections by 20%. Long story. No excuses.

Secondly, at 7:00, the TV was working great, something happened between then, and the show airing to cause a signal loss. Again, not an excuse.

The event did, in my eyes, fail to meet expectations. At Baltimore Foodies, I am dedicated to provding guests with a great experience. If they aren't happy, I'm not.

As of 1:00pm Friday, I have received seven e-mails from attendees, exprerssing their disappointment. I offered my apologies, and gave each one a full refund, fees and all.

Though the premiere party did not meet expectations, Jill did. She got through the first show, where others did not. I think that's the important thing. Baltimore Foodies has never been about me, it's about promoting the great, independent restaurants we have in Baltimore, and the chefs who work in them. ROCK ON JILL..!!!!

John said...

Hmmm, despite the food being good, the mismanagement and the occationally tetchy patron, now I'm not feeling so bad I missed it. But again, I found out at the last minute and I don't have $35 - and I live blogged it too - as you know :)

Kit Pollard said...

I know, I feel the same way as John. I was really disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to go...but now I'm just relieved that I didn't hire a babysitter and drag my husband out of the house during his sleeping time.