Wednesday, September 17, 2008

restaurant week: table 31

I'm not going to lie, nor mince words here. I was genuinely excited to try out Table 31, the latest offering from Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio, especially after reading Craig LaBan's three bell review in the Philadelphia Inquirer. And yes, I know that you should not take a food critic's review at face value. But the timing of review could not have been any better for Table 31. And yes, I understand that Restaurant Week is a chance for people to try out restaurants that they might not otherwise visit. And that's exactly why Restaurant Week is important for restaurants; in particular, new restaurants that have been open for less than 4 months and is brought to you by the most famous chef in Philadelphia. They are a new restaurant and their goal should be to impress their potential clientele enough that guests are willing to come back and buy that $105 porterhouse or that $68 tomahawk.

Essentially, this dining experience can be summed up in one word:

I am aware that a restaurant may not be inclined to show off their best work during Restaurant Week. But they should at least put some effort into it. When you go to a restaurant ranked up there with the best steakhouses in the city, the steak you order should be cooked to order. But that's getting ahead of things, because before you even get the menu, you should be seated at a table for your party and not sharing a space with another group of people in the Private Dining Room (or PDR as the hostess said, trying to make it more impressive). I know that during Restaurant Week, you are cramming as many people into the place as possible. But don't force people to share a space if you aren't a family- or hibachi-style restaurant.

Second, as a steakhouse, you should be able to cook a slab of meat as ordered, most definitely when it costs extra on top of the fixed Restaurant Week menu. And certainly if you get it wrong the first time, you should get it right the second time, even if you do bring out a sad excuse for a NY strip steak and fail to provide a knife to cut into the steak to check it. And if by some chance you manage to get that sad excuse for a NY strip wrong again, you most definitely should not bring back the same sad excuse for a NY strip back out after cooking it a little bit longer while still managing to leave it undercooked.

Third, you also should be able to bring out wine listed on the menu as the suggested entree wine with the entree and not after the entree and certainly not after asking for it three times, while eating said entree slowly with the hope of being able to enjoy the wine with said entree.

Fourth, as a sad attempt to make things right, you should positively not bring out a drink at the end of the meal that tastes like Robitussin with cocoa on top of it.

And not to completely pan Table 31: the desserts were outstanding. The PBJ was delicious and tasted exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The Ultimate Chocolate Cake was delightful; rich but light and smooth.

There is no excuse for a top steakhouse, Restaurant Week or not, to prove an inability to cook a steak to order - first obviously overcooked without cutting into it and second drastically undercooked. No fine restaurant should have such service as not to bring serve wine ordered with the entree after the entree was finished. Just about the only thing that was handled properly was the check, which the manager kindly amended down approximately two-thirds of the total. What Table 31 failed to do was, in any way, make us return during regular dining. Which means they completely missed the point of Restaurant Week.

1 comment:

BeccaT said...

What a disappointment, especially after I knew how much you were looking forward to this!

Hopefully Friday will be better...