I just finished a meal at Landmarc and I usually let a meal digest for a couple of days in my head before coming up with a post, but this meal/experience offended me so much that I have to stay up and write about it while it’s fresh on my mind. To give you some background regarding the dinner at Landmarc, my friend Sara is a frequent visitor of the restaurant; it’s close to her apartment, they have a Riesling she likes, and overall, I think she really enjoys the food (especially the homemade caramels they give for dessert). Two weekends ago, she went with a friend and had a really terrible experience – so terrible that she wrote the owner of Landmarc (Marc Murphy) and told him that the service was not acceptable for a restaurant of their caliber. The executive general manager of the Anvil Group (which owns Landmarc, Ditch Plains, and other restaurants), wrote her this response:
Date: Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 4:38 PM
Subject: saturday night at landmarc
To: Sara Rossett
dear ms rossett,
i sincerely appreciate your feedback from your visit to landmarc tribeca on saturday night. i am very sorry to hear that this visit was not up to the regular standard of service and food you have come to know and love at our restaurant. we pride ourselves on having a consistent level of service any time of the day or night that we are open and it is unfortunate that you received anything less. we are obviously going to take this information back to our entire staff to make them aware of how apparent a lack of attention can be to not only there own table, but everyone in the restaurant.
i also genuinely appreciate your comment regarding the state of the economy. we strive to go above and beyond to thank every guest for continuing to come to our restaurants during these times, and that was not the reception you received.
again, the information you have provided us about your experience can only help us in being more aware of the areas we can improve. as you know from prior visits, and i hope, because of my faith in our staff, that this was an isolated incident, that we can easily rectify.
please let me know when you are planning to come back in as i would like to make sure you have a much better time. and again thank you for your email.
executive general manager
Sara was happy with the response and excited that Jonna basically promised a better experience at Landmarc the next time we went. I mean, if an executive general manager is going to take the time to write you an email apologizing for the “isolated incident” and inviting you back to the restaurant, you go, right?
Sara responded to Jonna with this e-mail:
Hi Jonna – thank you for your prompt response. I am frequent patron of Landmarc and understand that this was an isolated incident and I really appreciate your courtesy.
In fact, I’ve become a fan of your chicken burgers and was planning on returning this weekend with some friends to try it again. I’ll have to confirm but if you could put my name down for Saturday at 9:30pm for 4, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks again Jonna and I look forward to many more enjoyable meals at your restaurant.
To which Jonna responded:
i have you in the book for saturday. i am actually not going to be here that night, but i am going to make sure mollie, who is the general manager, stops by to say hi!
i hope you get the chicken burger, they are so good. i had to swear off of them about a year ago, because they had become too addicting, but it isn’t a hazard when you don’t work around them, so enjoy!
have fun saturday and i hope to hear from you soon
Okay, so of course, Sara told me about this entire story and invited me to dinner because she thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce me to one of her favorite restaurants – plus, I could blog about it. She also invited David and her roommate, Jamie, and we decided to make a night of it. We arrived at 9:30 and Sara gave the hostess her name for the reservation, however, all of the tables were full and we were told to wait at the bar for 10 minutes. I understand if you have to wait a couple minutes for a table if you have a reservation because people linger, tables have to be cleaned, etc., but we ended up waiting for 30 minutes (THIRTY MINUTES!) for our table! Not to sound like a total complainer, but RESERVATIONS ARE MADE FOR A REASON! We sat down at 10pm, which kind of annoyed me, but I didn’t want to mention it because I was expecting AMAZING SERVICE and INCREDIBLE food.
Our server came to give us the wine menu – Sara asked a question about the Rieslings (there are only two Rieslings on the wine list right now so it’s not much to remember), and the waiter began telling us that it was his second favorite Riesling (does that mean you don’t like it?) He couldn’t explain the difference between the two wines and he also didn’t have much knowledge about the wine. If Landmarc is a restaurant that has an extensive wine list, don’t you think the waiters should have a better idea/more education regarding the wines on the wine list? I’m not asking for every waiter to be a sommelier, but if you don’t know the answer, shouldn’t you ASK someone that does have a better idea? Sara ordered the wine she wanted and ended up liking it, so it didn’t end up being a big deal, but I thought the server should’ve known more about the wines on the restaurant menu.
After our wine came, it took another 15 minutes for the server to come take our order. Okay, we get it – the restaurant is popular (even in the recession) but seriously, shouldn’t you be more attentive?! Also, I must mention that we had to repeatedly ask for bread – no one bothered to bring it after we had placed our order.
We started off with the fried calamari with spicy tomato sauce:
As well as the smoked mozzarella and ricotta fritters with fried zucchini and spicy tomato sauce (the same sauce that’s given with the fried calamari):
Both appetizers were good, although the fried appetizers reminded me of something we’d order in a bar while watching a basketball game. The smoked mozzarella and ricotta fritters were delicious (I mean, can you go wrong with fried cheese?) but I definitely didn’t taste any smokiness in the mozzarella – it tasted more like fresh mozzarella.
For an entree, Sara and Jamie ordered chicken burgers (Sara ordered gruyere and Jamie ordered smoked mozzarella):
Their burgers also came with pickles that Sara really liked (I wasn’t a huge fan because they were half pickles that were more sweet than sour). She ate all of her pickles and wanted more, so she asked the waiter to bring her a couple more. The waiter made a HUGE deal of it and was really hesitant to bring them – obviously Sara asked if there was a problem with her request and the waiter begrudgingly agreed to go into the kitchen to ask; he said that some of the chefs on the grill make him charge extra for pickles. Seriously, they’re PICKLES! They cost 1/10 of a cent to make! Can’t you just bring some over and make a girl happy?! I mean, SHE WROTE A LETTER TO THE OWNER TO TELL HIM HOW BAD THE SERVICE WAS LAST TIME – SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO DO IT AGAIN! The waiter came back with a small plate of pickles (for free) and made it seem like he just handed Sara a plate of gold and she was supposed to thank him accordingly. Let me repeat, they are PICKLES and they cost next to nothing. GET OVER YOURSELF!
After we finished our first basket of bread, we asked for some more (mainly because I ate all of the bread and the other three people at the table still wanted some) – David had to ask twice and Sara had to ask once before someone brought bread to our table. The busboy dropped off two baskets, almost in a spiteful way (I might be reading too much into the way he dropped off the bread, but it was definitely not in a nice way). Okay, so your restaurant is busy in a crappy economy – does that mean that you should treat you patrons in a rude manner and make them never want to return again?
David ordered the hangar steak (medium rare):
The steak was very tender and juicy (they actually grill the steaks in the back next to the bar) and David seemed to enjoy it, so I have no complaints regarding his steak.
Finally, I ordered the mussels with fries:
Similar to the mussels at Ditch Plains, the white wine, parsley, and shallot sauce just doesn’t have enough acidity. I really shouldn’t have ordered the mussels because I wasn’t a huge fan of them at Ditch Plains, but I completely forgot that the two restaurants were related when I ordered. I had to ask the waiter for lemon wedges and the waiter looked at me like I was CRAZY to make such a request. People use lemons all the time, Mr. Waiter!! I added lemon and dijon mustard to the white wine sauce, which made is slightly more bearable, but I shouldn’t be fixing the sauce – that’s the chef’s job! It was almost like a water sauce with some mussels (like on Arrested Development when Lindsay makes hot ham water). Also, is it so much trouble to distribute the shallots a little more evenly?! The fries were actually delicious – very meaty and crispy.
David and Sara ordered dessert and then the check came along with some house-made caramels:
Since the caramels are made in-house every morning, the color of the caramels isn’t always the same (Sara brought me caramels last time she went and they were a LOT lighter than these). Today’s caramels were more burnt than usual – shouldn’t there be a candy thermometer being used to maintain consistency, or is that just some crazy idea I just came up with?!
Going back to the original emails, Jonna said that she wouldn’t be there but Mollie would definitely be working on Saturday and she would stop by during our meal. Sara actually asked another hostess if Mollie was working, to which she responded with a blunt “yes,” but apparently the dots didn’t connect with the hostess that Sara would want to talk with Mollie.
As we were walking out around midnight (yes, our meal took that long because the service was SO SLOW), we ran into Mollie, who asked if she could help us with anything (I was looking for matchbooks because I collect them) – she asked how our meal was and I basically told her about our meal and that Sara (and ALL of us) should’ve been treated with more respect. Mollie said that she didn’t even KNOW that Sara was in the restaurant (there is a serious lack of communication in this restaurant) and that she was sorry that the meal didn’t go over well. I understand that restaurants get busy (especially on Saturday nights), but Jonna promised a better time (and honestly, if I were treated the way Sara was the last time she went there, I would’ve expected some free appetizers, a free dessert, or SOMETHING), and we definitely didn’t have a pleasant experience.
In my opinion, a restaurant’s success is based off their food AND their service. Service plays such an important role in a diner’s enjoyment and our server was downright terrible. Also, there was a lack of communication regarding Sara’s complaint; I’m sure restaurants lose customers all the time based off ONE bad experience – Sara was willing to go back (and bring friends!) to Landmarc because she really did want to give them another chance, but based off the way they treated her, I would recommend that she find another restaurant to visit. In this economy, restaurants need to be cognizant that people don’t have as much expendable money for expensive restaurants such as Landmarc; restaurants should really go out of their way to make sure everyone’s meal is enjoyable.
What are your thoughts regarding restaurants and service? Leave your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear your opinions!