First a word of thanks to the people at Restaurant R'evolution. For too long, I've been a passive diner, content to just let a meal unfold and let small problems slide by forgotten until a dinner post mortem. But see, small problems often hint at larger problems. Like slight tremors along the San Andreas, they foretell much bigger issues. Thanks to R'evolution, I think I'll speak up early and often.
So from now on, when I walk into a nearly empty restaurant and are promptly seated at an awful table, I won't keep quiet. I'll ask to move. Who knows what causes hostesses to place me so close to their hostesses stand? I can't imagine anyone wants to spend anymore time with me than they have to, but there we were once again sitting within airshot of air traffic control.
Perhaps next time I walk into a restaurant where only a select number of the tables have tablecloths, I will ask for the manager. When the manager comes over, I'll make him an offer. Either move us to one of those tables or take ten percent of our bill. Why not? If you are going to charge the same prices across the dining room, why shouldn't I get the same cost as other diners? Who makes the decision to clothe only half the tables? You either want the hassle and expense of putting tablecloths on tables or you don't. To do so only halfway shows me you only care about some diners, not all of them. And just a tip, a tablecloth would cover up the ridges in a table where you turn a four top into table for five.
This is a town that likes to be offered a drink. Normally it is customary to do so shortly after sitting down, as a way to welcome your guests. We were seated and we waited. And we waited. And we waited. And we waited. Are you tired of reading that sentence over and over again? Imagine how we felt waiting for a drink order to be taken. We waited another twenty minutes for our drink order to arrive, one of which was a beer, the other three classic drinks which have been made in New Orleans for decades. A 12:30 reservation got its first drinks at 1:10 pm. Next time, I'll bring in a flask. Someone could have died of thirst.
Breads came next. They were dry and stale. This should have tipped us off that the kitchen took a day off. A few orders of crab beignets for the table, which had the dubious pleasure of being one of the better things we would eat. A plate of four came with four different sauces, none of which were provided in sufficient quantity to enjoy and hidden at the bottom of a reservoir under the beignets. I had an easier time getting my freshmen homecoming's date bra off than scooping out these sauces. In both cases, I failed.
Who knows whether John Folse or Rick Tramonto developed the recipe for the snapping turtle soup, but likely each of them would blame the other. It was greasy, bland, and resembled a chili, which is not a compliment. The death by gumbo was delicious, with a rich thick emulsified stock draped around a partially boned and stuffed quail.
With the soup course, the real problem of R'evolution manifested itself. The servers are trying to pull off a highly intricate and choreographed service style with all the finesse and elegance of sumo wrestlers pirouetting. Here is how it is supposed to go. Plates are either dropped simultaneously or the women are served first. When pouring soup tableside, it helps for it to happen in sync. Two in our party got the same soup. The server went back and forth between the two diners filling the bowls in a piecemeal fashion, until all the soup in her tureen was gone. If you don't have the staff or expertise to pull off on-site plating, just add the soup to the bowl in the kitchen. Our server was sweet and tried, but without any management or a maitre d', the whole service was bumbling and adrift. What appeared to be the people in charge spent most of their time huddled over POS machines and idly chattering.
I certainly won't encourage anyone to order the eggs a la creme, which is a martini glass of scrambled eggs topped with a baby spoon of caviar. Good thing someone has the option to spend up to $80 on this. The bird in a cage somehow managed to make braised dark meat dry, breast meat moist, and skin flabby. To paraphrase Meatloaf, two out of three ain't good. The watery broth at the bottom of the bowl vowed to help OJ Simpson find the real coq au vin sauce. Please learn how to make rich and delicious mashed potatoes before trying to make a truffled version. Your peanut butter ice cream was the highlight: luxurious, creamy, nutty, and slightly salty. Do more of that.
The thing with all restaurants, but especially high end dining, is they need a force, someone in control who sets the tone. They need more than just loads of money thrown at them, faux marriages, Robert E. Lee's camp stove, and press conferences. Restaurants need someone to care about the place and the comfort and enjoyment of the guests on a daily basis. There is a saying in football that if you have a dual quaterback system, you don't have a quarterback. I think that applies here. We left wondering who exactly is in charge?
We are well past the days where one expects to see a chef owner in the kitchen. Usually a chef with other concerns leaves a lieutenant or two to watch over and to make sure his or her vision is executed. I left unclear as to what the vision at R'evolution even is. Is it fresh spins on classic Creole and Cajun cooking? A high end steakhouse? A time capsule of two men's cooking careers? What are they trying to do?
Until they figure out what they are, I'll complain as best one can, by going somewhere else.