Do you “fake” it?

 You know what I mean. You just had a disappointing dinner and here comes the server asking you how it was. Do you tell him the truth or do you just smile and say, “It’s good!” and make a mental note never to come back again.

The thing is, it’s really hard to tell with the waitstaff. Do they really give a cr*p how your meal went or do they just go through the motions of a script? Will what you tell them get back to the kitchen where it really matters? (that is, if the kitchen cares. but any chef worth his salt cares, believe me.)

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is you. Are you the type to speak up when you eat a sub-standard meal at an eatery or do you determine that that’s the pinnacle of what this restaurant has to offer so you mark it off your list or better yet write an interesting personal experience about it on your blog. (Note I did not say review, there was a debate on twitter about posting a negative restaurant review vs. a personal dining experience on a blog…as my hubby argues it’s a personal blog why can’t you write whatever you want.)

When a restaurant is new and when I have a vested interest in its success (meaning I like the cuisine it’s trying to promote), I try to give as much constructive criticism as I could. But if it’s an established restaurant whose menu is probably duplicated by numerous places around – crabcakes anyone? – I tend to keep my mouth shut and move on.

I think the reason I don’t complain much is because I do not want the restaurant to comp the dish in question. Working in our restaurant before I knew there were three types of complainer – the first genuinely cares for the restaurant to improve its food, the second nitpicks to get a free meal and there’s a third type who fusses to feel important. The latter ones tend to be repeat offenders who simply can’t be happy with anything you serve them. Which make you wonder why they keep returning.

It’s easier to give an opinion when the restaurant is new because they are still working through the kinks and, I imagine, welcome suggestions from their customers. Recently I had no qualms of informing my server that the mascarpone polenta was way too salty, but not without letting her know that I’m aware that they’ve just opened and it’s no big deal.

It was a disconcerting experience though when it came to dessert. This restaurant was much hyped but the sweet offerings leave much to be desired.

HH and I decided to share a chocolate tart. What arrived was a pale-as-vampire tart shell with a hardened layer of chocolate ganache. If I’m not mistaken those tart shells were the disgusting pre-fab ones you get from food service companies … yes the ones with scallop edges.

I normally would fake it and try to shovel three-fourths of the dessert into my mouth because I didn’t want our server to think I didn’t like the dessert (which was really the truth).
But I’ve recently been having weight problems and I want all my calories to count and there’s no forcing HH to help me with it either because the man doesn’t share my sentiment of “faking” it, so I’ve decided no more “faking” it.

So two bites of the chocolate tart, one from me and one from HH and we called for the check. As expected the server asked if we didn’t like our dessert and I said….”Uh…no…” and that was it. And as I feared, the restaurant comped it even when we told them not to. It’s really order at your own risk…”that’s my motto…”

The reason this post came about? A repeat of the above experience, this time with a lemon chess pie. We were all ready to rave about the new menu of the restaurant until dessert happened.

I realize some don’t care about dessert. But it has become aggravating how an otherwise above-average meal suddenly gets derailed with a disappointing last course. What I remember most about a dining experience is how it ends, just saying.

I can only speak of a handful of bright spots regarding this course on the Richmond dining scene.

The Empress – love their dessert selection specially their crepes.

Secco Wine Bar – dessert may be a hit or miss but I love how Tim Bereika gives much thought to his sweet creations. My most memorable – the chesnut bread pudding last winter – and I don’t even like bread pudding.

Sensi – their dessert trio always pleases.

Ejay Rin – I must say I am very impressed with Bill Foster’s dessert creations. The cereal milk panna cotta with avocado and chocolate hazelnut wafer – though clearly a nod to David Chang’s famous creation – is a worthy rendition in my opinion. There was another dessert he was experimenting on that blew me away…not sure if it’s on the menu yet but I’ll be on the lookout for it.

The Roosevelt – when Lee Gregory left Six Burner, I was distressed that I will never have what could be one of the best first desserts I’ve had in Richmond – his buttermilk panna cotta. I haven’t been to the Roosevelt yet, but I’m looking forward to when I’ll be reunited with that buttermilk creamy goodness.