This past New Years Eve I managed to get the night off, which in the restaurant industry is unheard of! But guess what I did? Drank the night before NYE, so therefore was slightly hungover on the big night :( Even though that won't stop me from going out to dinner the nightly dilemma rears its ugly head. 3000 restaurants in this damn city and I can't find a place to eat! Grr.
M: OK, I know a place. We haven't been there before.
T: Oh! Yeah sure, let's go.
...in the car...
M: Do you know where we're going?
(This is the conversation each time he chooses the location)
Toscana Italian Grill!
This new-ish restaurant is in a location where unfortunately 5 or 6 other eateries have failed. But having seen so much advertising for this joint I was pretty stoked to give it a try. I could do with a nice bowl of pasta with some bread!
As soon as we walk in the first thing we notice is that there are maybe 3 other tables. This is 5pm on NYE, one of the busiest nights for restaurants worldwide. Where are all the people? There is a guy who is probably the owner, maybe a manager, standing at the entrance and tells us to choose our own table. Uhh, OK? We pick one out and a few minutes later he comes and drops off two menus. The regular day to day menu and a special NYE menu, which is set at a certain price (40 dollars per person I think) with set food choices. It took a really long time for a server to come over and when he does I'm still reading the drink menu. Trying to figure out if my hangover can tolerate a beer. It cannot I discover. As I am reading he is hovering at the table, not saying anything, awkward as all get out, so I just say I'll stick with the water. I get the vibe the guy is like "WTF just water?"
In the time it takes to get our drinks we have the chance to watch the other guests who come inside. Since we have been there a few tables have come in and have been sat. This is where we notice they are no longer handing out the regular menus and are ONLY offering the NYE menu. There is a family of five at the door, 3 adults, 2 children, and they are given the NYE menu. After being informed of how the menu works they stand up and leave. This happened to at least 5 other groups of people in the hour and a half that we were there. There was no choice for children on the menu and the manager/owner guy was not willing to accommodate their request for a regular menu. An elderly couple had sat down behind us and their server had explained how it will work and they sounded kind of upset. He managed to finagle them a regular menu but we could overhear the server explaining that he even thought it was a stupid idea, and he's had tables walk out. Lo and behold another couple sits across from us. They see the limited menu, stand up and leave.
So, mister owner/manager buddy. Why the hell are you letting tables walk out on your business!?!?
This is where things get even more crappy. We had read a review saying they give you a nice little bread dish to start with, and it was yummy. This was not. I have no idea what that other person ate, but our bread was terrible. It was like two mini bread slices. I can't even describe it well enough to give you a visual. Just trust. After we had put in our order we didn't see our server until after our meals were delivered. Boo. What if I decided to get something other than water?
50 minutes of being there and our food is delivered. Good thing because we had 5 more minutes before we were out of there and at the McD's drive thru.
FYI: I am a sucker for chicken parmigiana, and I usually try it at each Italian restaurant we go to. I should not have tried it here. It was bland. Bland bland. And for ME to say that sure is sayin' somethin'! Huge portion as most Italian eateries are, but it was 'meh'. That's the best way to describe the chicken anyway, the veggies (broccoli and carrots YES!) were just boiled. No seasoning, no butter. Boring. The sauce on the noodles was tangy and gross. God, I am so not impressed. Mike ordered the lasagne and thankfully he loved it! Oh, but wait, I spoke too soon.
M: What's this? (proffering me his open hand)
T: That's a piece of broken glass. What the hell? Where did that come from?
M: I think my salad, I was chewing a bite and got a crunchy piece. This is what I spit out.
T: Holy shit, this is ridiculous. Do you see our server anywhere? Or the manager?
M: Nope, he hasn't been around since he took our order.
So now I'm pissed at the terrible service, and Mike is eating glass shards. Finally! Our Server!
M: I uh, found this in my salad.
Server: Oh. Ummm. Let me just uh, take this to the kitchen.
T: Did you notice he didn't apologize? And why is he going to the kitchen? He should be finding the manager/owner guy.
It was a good 10 minutes before anyone surfaced, and it was the server again.
S: You know we looked into this and we just can't figure out what that was, or where it came from. We think it might be from the salt. (walks away)
T & M: WHAT???
Are you joking? Buddy is trying to tell us that it's probably a large chunk of salt. My first thought is salt would have melted in his mouth and not been crunchy. Then I thought WAIT - why are they putting large hunks of salt in a freaking mixed green salad. There's no salt in salad!!!
Wow. At the end of my rope here with this stupid restaurant. I have stopped eating my boring ass dinner as I've lost my appetite and just want to pay the bill and leave. Server man comes up and explains that they took care of Mikes dinner then stands there, hovering again, waiting for us to pay. Point taken, buddy. Here's our debit card. Ciao!
I apologize for this being so long, but there was just so much to say about this Toscana Italian Grill.
Two things come to mind here.
1) If people are not happy with the set menu, give them the real damn menu. You aren't impressing anyone with your bullshit NYE menu. I guarantee those 5 tables will not be back to you, nor will we, and they are all going to tell their friends, as will we. Losing your guests seems like the first thing you should take care of. Judging by how empty of a resturant you've only got a small chance to make it here. Everyone else before you has failed-you don't have the luxury of turning customers away.
2) If there happens to be an issue at a table your server should APOLOGIZE! On top of that the Manager should come over and APOLOGIZE! The staff should be kissing your ass to make sure they have made the situation right, and that you'll stay a guest. I can honestly say that we would have gone back there had we received any type of apology, but clearly our patronage is not worth it for them.
Man. Sorry for the rant. It blows my mind how little of a shit they gave. Mike and I will not ever recommend this restaurant to anyone.
Side note: Mike had posted a much shorter version of this on Yelp a few days after we had visited. We checked Yelp a few days ago and our post had been removed. Oh, muffin, you didn't want bad publicity? :(
I am posting my short version of it back up on Yelp, with a link to this blog. And I'll keep reposting it if it gets deleted.
Bad word of mouth will kill your business.