June 17, 2010

8407: Service With a Sneer

Posted in food restaurants, silver spring businesses tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 9:12 am by silversprung

The blogosphere had me really amped try 8407 Kitchen & Bar for the first time.

Maybe my expectations were too high? Maybe I’m picky? Maybe it was just an off night or a freak situation. You be the judge:

My guest and I showed up promptly for our reservation at 8407. I was digging the decor: the exposed ceiling, and the stylish booths on the second floor where we were seated. “This menu look great!” we said to one another, then turned to the wine list.

Ten minutes later, we’d made our selections and were ready to order.

Our server appeared and asked if we’d like to start with something to drink. We ordered wine and asked for water. “And I think we’re also ready to order,” my guest said.

“Well I can get your drinks for you. Your server will be right with you.” Oops. He was just the bus boy. No biggie. We received our water, another (presumably) bus boy brought bread, and finally a woman who was not dressed in the restaurant’s standard all-black outfit appeared with our wine and two glasses.

“It’s our first time here,” my guest said. We got to talking. I told her I’m new to the area. She let on that she’s the partner in the restaurant and my guest and I exchanged glances. (Sweet! The partner.) We asked questions about the restaurant, the chef’s history. She was very polite and interesting.

Then she finished pouring our wine and asked if she could get us anything else. “Well, we’re not in a rush, but we are ready to order,” my guest said.

“I can help you with that,” she said, and took our order.

We were off to a great start. A little while later, a young man brought out our appetizers. His minimal talk signaled to us that he was also a bus boy. We were starting to get confused about the service. Is it a kind of group situation? Do we get a single server? Isn’t that confusing?

Well, I adored my salmon tartare on pineapple (a wonderful combination) and my guest enjoyed the squash blossom. Our plates were cleared by the same bus boy and next came a salad to share and some olives.

So there we were, blissfully chatting and eating, when a young guy walked up with our hot entrees. “Oh!” we said and pointed at our full plates of salad and olives. He proceeded to push them out of the way using the hot plates in his hands and walked away.

“Was that our waiter?” I thought.

“They shouldn’t have done that,” my guest said. We shrug. Oh well, not a big deal. We decided to keep eating our salad figuring our two orders of gnocchi couldn’t be overcooked. With the gnocchi steaming away at the edge of our table, we worked on finishing our salads. A young woman approached. “Can I get you anything for your gnocchi?” she asked.

My guest and I looked at each other. (Should we?)

“Well, you could pass along that we weren’t ready to have it yet,” he said, hoping the message would get to our server. “Well, would you like me to take it back to the kitchen?” she asked. We looked at our near-empty plates.

“Not now,” I said. “We’re just about done.” The girl apologized repeatedly and helped clear what plates she could. We had moved on to the gnocchi when the partner reappeared. She apologized and explained that the kitchen was really backed up. “She shouldn’t have brought that so early,” the partner said, or something to that effect. All I knew was that the partner referenced “she” and a guy was the one who brought out the food. I didn’t want someone else to get blamed.

“Oh, it was a he,” I said.

“No,” she said. “She’s the one who orders the food.”

“There was no she,” I said, totally confused.

“NO. That is a bus boy,” she asserted.

“Right, there was no she,” I said. The partner was growing visibly agitated.

She tells him when to bring it out. I’m helping her out,” the partner said, now completely annoyed. My guest and I get really uncomfortable.

Eventually the partner walks away and we’re left scratching our heads. What the hell was going on?

We try our gnocchi, which was pretty oily and lacking mushrooms. We finish eating and our plates are cleared. Then, the same young woman to whom we complained about the gnocchi approached our table. WAIT A SECOND! WE HAVE A REPEAT SERVER!!!

So it dawns on me at that very moment that this is our server. This woman. This same woman who is the fracking upstairs bartender! She must have been assigned to our table because no one sits upstairs at the bar, but she was either too busy or was informed too late to serve us.

My guest and I discussed this as we ordered dessert and coffee.

Our SERVER brought out the coffee drinks.

We slowly drank them.

Our drinks started to get cold.

We finished them.

We looked around as multiple people passed.

No dessert.

We waited.

No dessert.

Finally, the partner returned to clear our cups. “Can I clear these?”

“But we’re still waiting on dessert,” we said. She looked down at the cups. “Would you like more coffee?” My guest ordered another cappuccino. We rolled our eyes.

The desserts weren’t great. Rhubarb crumble was really a compote with some sugar on top. What would have been great was some consistent service.

As we left, my guest said “good night” to the two girls at the hostess station. Neither looked up in acknowledgment.

Lesson learned: DO NOT let them seat you by the upstairs bar. They need to get their act together up there.

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5 Comments »

  1. Terry in Silver Spring said,

    Wow, what a mess.

    I’ve been there twice and both nights were completely different than what you experienced. Have you sent them an email about the problems?

    • silversprung said,

      Since I was dealing with the partner in this testy exchange, I didn’t think it would help. I assume she’s management?

      • Terry in Silver Spring said,

        Her partner may not be amused by your story.

  2. gnu said,

    Just wanted to add my bit… I went there for the first time last night and was 100% not impressed.

    We sat upstairs in the dining room, my partner ordered a beer from the anemic but cheap beer list, and I ordered a cocktail (alas it was not $12 worth of awesome). Nothing on the main menu looked terribly appealing, I wound up ordering a Cuban sandwich and my partner got the smoked tomato soup, the duck prosciutto and a side of the fries. The sandwich was greasy and had neither mustard nor tasteable pickle to cut it, the soup was tasty enough, the fries were okay (I’ve had better frites for sure) and the prosciutto came drowned in a balsamic reduction that completely masked its ducky goodness. Nothing on the dessert menu looked appealing either (it may be the first time I’ve ever turned down dessert!)

    Service was fine, our server struck me as slightly creepy but that’s neither here nor there. (He’d ask my partner how his food was while staring at me, a little odd, and kept calling everything we ordered his “absolute favorite”.)

    Anyway, won’t be going back, I’m rather disappointed.

  3. tanisha said,

    I’ve eaten at 8407 on 6 different occasions lunch and dinner. I’ve found lunch service far to be better than dinner service. With the chef’s experience I would have thought there would also be more consistency with the food.
    I hope they work out their issues we certainly need nice restaurants in SS.


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