From: [an eater]
Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2007
To: eater complaints dept.
Subject: Dinner at Spruce like dinner in New York
Our reservation (made two months ago) was for seven PM and we arrived very promptly. The hostess did not greet, did not welcome, did not smile. She told us that things were running a bit "slowly" and that they'd have to seat us in about 10 minutes. We were finally brought to our table at 7:26. My friend said: "Oh, this is like that New York thing where you show up on time for your reservation and they still make you wait an hour..."
After watching the hostess manage the floor, my Mom labeled her with the name "Miss Efficiency". Miss Efficiency seems to know how to get things done, but has zero personality while doing it. Mom said: "she needs....charm school." The service was overall a bit slip-shod for the prices. Our sommelier began to serve our second bottle of wine without removing the first empty bottle or any of the used glasses. Isn't a sommelier supposed to notice this type of thing? The moment you need to tell you sommelier to remove a glass things aren't going so well.
Overall, the food and wine were spectacular. After the house charcuterie, we each had the endive & pear salads. My friend & I each had the bavette steak, Mom had the lobster, and Dad had the pork. My Mom said: "that sauce on the lobster..." only to have the statement fade away into ephemeral nothingness. My Dad leaned back mid-way through his plate to proclaim: "that's the best pork I've ever had in my life." That's a bold statement coming from him. We went on to share the beignets and a cheese plate and another demi bottle of wine...
I do appreciate that Spruce has the old-school, proper system for plate removal. Old etiquette standards state that plates should not be removed until everyone at the table has finished with their course; these days the bus boys are so overly-attentive that they swoop in and take your plate before you're given a chance to sop of the last bit of enjoyable sauce. At Spruce, you are left alone until the entire party has finished. However, by that same token, there seems to be a lot of activity going on with staff, servers, waiters, etc... My Mom said: "This is that New York-style service: there's all kinds of people running around, but no one really gets the point." Good service is meant to be unobtrusive and unnoticed. At Spruce, for better or worse, all you seem to do is notice the people running the show.
I will say that the dinner was pleasurable and a gastronomic treat - we'll definitely return. Let's just hope that the service has by then become a bit more grounded...
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