Wine Fest

September 27, 2009

This weekend last year we went to the NSTU Wine Fest with Martha & Stephane.  (One of my oldest and best friends and Sarah’s godparents.)  We had a blast and they won the door prize (an overnight getaway) so there was no question that we would go again this year.  The babysitters were booked, but then on Thursday, we got the word that it was cancelled as the venue had decided to charge a $10 corkage fee for each bottle of wine opened.  No comment.

We decided that we couldn’t let the babysitters go to waste, so changed our plans and decided to go out to dinner together like grown-ups instead.

My parents had the boys for a sleepover, so our babysitter only had the two girls to deal with (plus two rooms).  We told her that if anyone came to the door, she was to tell them we were full.

We called our first choice of restaurant at the last minute but they were full and wouldn’t be able to accommodate us before they closed.  We suggested another restaurant that we had enjoyed back in June and made a reservation there.

We put the girls to bed and headed out.

Martha drove because it was really quite chilly and she & I were each dressed in our little black dresses.  We were led to a table and ordered a bottle of wine for three of us to share;  Martha stuck to pop because she was driving.  We then ordered appetizers & our entrees and started talking.

We talked for quite a while…


And more…

We finished the bottle of wine and started to shoot one another glances.

There was another table of two who was fed in good time, and we could hear laughter from the other room.

An hour after we had arrived, we got our appetizers, delivered by our waitress (the owner) and the manager.

The manager laughed as she approached the table, “Are you hungry yet?”


At least she had smiled which is more than the owner had done.

The manager explained that they had a “large party” in the other room.  (I, because of my past life working in restaurants, assumed this must mean 20 people or more.)

We tried to order another bottle of wine, but were told they sold the other two bottles of that one they had in stock to the “large party”.  Instead, we ordered a different bottle and I wondered how much we would be charged for it.

We ate our appetizers, Lobster Risotto (me), Smoked Haddock Chowder (Steph), Spinach Salad (Mart) and Greek Salad (D’Arcy).

Then we waited.

And waited…

And waited…

Finally our appetizers arrived.  Prime Rib (ordered medium rare for each) for D’Arcy & Stephane, Haddock for Martha & Cedar Planked Salmon for me.  No comment from the staff on the wait this time.

My salmon was stuck to its plank and was so hard it shot off into my lap as I tried to cut it with a knife.


D’Arcy took my plate and knocked on the kitchen door, to no answer.

I took my plate while the other three ate and went to the kitchen.  I knocked once, to no answer.  I knocked again, harder, and when I didn’t get an answer, I walked into the kitchen.  The cook was at the stove and I showed him that my salmon was hard.  He asked if I would like another one made and I started to lose it.

I went to the washroom and could see the party in the other room as I went.  There were ten people at the table.  In my opinion, not a large party at all.

I went back to our table where the other three were almost finished.  D’Arcy’s steak was raw and he had found a wire from a wire cleaning brush in his meal.

Really, could this get much worse??

Our server, the owner, approached our table and asked if I would come talk with her.  I was slightly put out to be asked to leave our friends, but went.  She positioned us at the top of the short landing, outside the bathroom doors, in full view of the “large party”.

She proceeded to tell me that they were having an off night… She knew we sent people there often and I should know that most accounts are good…  Don’t I know how hard it is to make a go of a restaurant in this town…  (Um, if people are getting this service, I wonder why?!)

Then she threw in that she’s a single mom of a teenager, trying to do her best.

At the risk of sounding callous, that should not affect my dining experience when I go to that restaurant.

I also explained that if we were treated this way, how can we be confident that our guests get a good experience if they arrive without calling first?  You’re having an off night?  Also not my problem if we’re going to end up paying $200 for a party of four.  I explained that had she smiled at us or explained when she took our order that there would be a wait for the appetizers, we would have been fine with it.  She didn’t engage in conversation with us at all. I also explained that a table of ten isn’t really what she should call a “large party” and that there were only sixteen of us in the restaurant in total.  What would they do if they were full?  Then I pointed out that we had recommended them to our friends so it reflects on our judgement as well.

When I got back to the table, everyone else was long finished.  My meal arrived, but wasn’t spectacular.

The owner came and cleared my plate and asked if we would like dessert, to which we replied no.

She left the table and we waited.

(You’d think we’d have learned by now.)

Finally, D’Arcy went up and asked for the bill and she told him that there wasn’t one.

(Note:  That probably would have been a good thing to tell us up front at the table!!)

We headed out to the car which was parked on the side of the restaurant where the “large party” was seated and Martha noticed they were all staring at us.  As we got into the car, the adolescent man at the head of the table stood up and made rude gestures at us.

We figure they must have been friends with the owner.

It was a most bizarre dining experience and although she comped our meal, I still don’t think we will put our guests through that for quite sometime.

As for the group, we’ve decided that NSTU wine fest weekend is quite an adventure!  Can’t wait to see what next year will bring…


One Response to “Wine Fest”

  1. Susan Says:

    Sounds like a nightmare dinner!

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