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    « Tis' the season of Jam | Main | Preserving away the flavors of summer »

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

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    Sally

    So interesting. I had the exact same experience at Ravenous another time. My daughter and I went in and were denied seating at the communal table (by Lauren, who was positively surly and rude) After she left us standing awkwardly in the doorway for at least ten minutes, she finally acquiesced and allowed us to sit at the communal table. Another older couple was treated just as rudely, and we exchanged knowing looks. I have never seen the owner of a restaurant treat their clients so poorly. Never a smile or a "thank you for coming." What's up with that? I'm a caterer, so I know what it is to work hard and be tired, but that does not excuse a total lack of personality and welcome. Lauren, wake up and smell the french fries burning - your fries are fantastic but you're missing the boat on something as simple and inexpensive as a smile. Their iced Moroccan mint tea is good, and the crepes themselves are always made a la minute. I do still go there, but I always wish I had options for great french fries, with an owner who appreciates their patrons.

    Anthonysgodfather

    LOL Suvir, I do believe we are "cut from the same cloth."

    I just emailed a rather expensive taqueria in Berkeley, CA about a co-worker asking the manager at the pick up window for a side of sour cream and he sends her back to the cashier (she just wanted a side order) where she is promptly charged $2.00 for a BOWL of sour cream. My friend and I sent her back to the cashier to ask for a refund and retrieve the 2 ounce container of what she wanted. The cashier, who was snotty, pulled $2 out of the tip chair. I couldn't wait to get back to work to compose that email. LOL......plus $12 for a soft taco with a side of rice/beans is just ridiculous in my neck of the woods.

    I applied for an Admin job at the illustrious Zuni in San Francisco. They didn't hire me because I insisted that superb customer service makes or breaks a meal (especially at those prices) and they are known and take pride for their lousy service - which begins at the host stand. UGH!
    D

    Anthonysgodfather

    You should post a link to your blog on their Facebook page! LOL

    Anthonysgodfather

    Are you out and about? You haven't posted on your blog since the "Ravenous" chronicles went up! Have they hunted you down, holding you captive and forcing you to eat those crepes? LOL

    Best,
    D

    suvir saran

    They hunted me down and have me in their basement.
    Sadly my accent annoyed them even more than my written words, and so they let me free.

    See, sometimes having an accent can be a gift.

    Was in San Jose for a conference. Now at the Atlanta airport waiting for a flight to Albany. I could have been in India for the time it takes to travel from or to Albany.

    Anthonysgodfather

    San Jose California?????? I am just minutes away from San Jose. Do you know the way? LOL

    Hmm...well they don't pay any more attention to their Facebook page then they do their customers.

    So while I don't email business's to get a free anything, generally they will offer something. The taqueria I mentioned above (this is not a mom and pop place- see link below) wrote back to tell me they would "do better." Oye vey!


    http://www.sabormexicano.com/cancun/

    suvir saran

    David, would you do that for me? Posting a link to this blog on their facebook? I do not do facebook, or else I would have done that. Thansk for thinking of this.

    suvir saran

    I was minutes away from you David. At the Fairmont Hotel on South Market Street. California is something else. I often wonder why people that make Orange County their home live there. I wonder why people with so much money would allow The Fairmont to look as it does in San Jose. I wonder how a town as beautiful and richly diverse as SF have in its lap some of the worst bigots in the world. I had no faith in Provision 8 passing in CA. I was shocked my friends would think it easy and done, even before the ballots were counted. They seemed shocked, and I seemed like usual, living. Neither sad, nor too happy. Just being. CA thrives in extremes. And these make it both beautiful and sad. There is no middle ground. Everything is exaggerated. There is never a sense of reality, of living, of life.

    In San Jose last week I felt miserable in my hotel room. The temperature gauge gave me the comfort of knowing I had set the thermostat to the temperature I like, 60˚F. My body told me it was far from it. Last night as I was checking out at the front desk, I let them know it seemed their AC system was not working and a colleague also shared her own hot-room story (she is a resident of Berkeley and loves warmer climes and was in heaven. Knowing the thermostat gave one reading and the actual temperature was to her liking and much warmer). The man checking me out revealed without any hesitation or shame that the thermostats are set by the guests, but during hours that the hotel knows most guests are out and about (8-5) it is the hotel controlling the system. And so it is at a much higher setting than the 60˚F I was expecting. That too is another face of CA. I have been haunted by such CA stories since a very young age. I should maybe do a California Oddities book.

    I would never expect any freebie from anyone. If they give it, I am almost upset, because in doing so the proprietors take away my ability to proudly consider writing about them. Good or bad, I want to say things only if they were borne out of my own need to discover. A smart operator who knows they are going through a tough time will often disarm those voices they are most concerned about by doing just what you speak about. Gifting meals away to people they recognize as having a voice that matters. This in turn silences their critique. I am hoping Ravenous can get better with a little more generosity of spirit and leadership shown by the owners. They have a wonderful product in ther fries. The crepes have been bad to worse never any better. But that too can change. Less goofy and experimental would be the way for them to go. One should first grasp fully the preparation of basics before switching to attempt culinary olympics.

    suvir saran

    Brian Talmadge our local wonder-boy farmer was at the Greenwich Farmers market.
    As he was giving me compliments on the blog and the photography, he mentioned this blog post and said my description of the fries made him want to take Christina, his wife to Ravenous the other day.

    I must say the fries are truly wonderful. I would go back for them any time I can be there.

    It is also my hope that when we are there next, we see a more generous side of the owner. And if that happens, I am sure we would have a much better overall experience.

    Sadly, I am not alone in seeing the owner as someone with questionable attitude. Charlie reminds me that even the first time we were there, the owner could not have given us worse treatment. In fact he reminded me that both the husband and wife were there that first time.

    Maybe they will consider being more generous of their seats when seating guests as they come in. And as they do that, I am sure guests will find Ravenous even more charming than it is already.

    Of course I wish they would consider learning a tad more about Indian food before they think the Taj Mahal could make someone taste India inside a wrap. But what do I know.. I am sure they have as customers many who LOVE the Taj Mahal and would order it again and again.

    suvir saran

    And I wanted to clarify that I do not expect to be comped or given anything for free.
    That is not what I mean by generous.
    I would want to be sat where we would be comfortable, and not on a seat that the owner feels is better for them and their business.

    To me that is warmth, generosity and hospitality.

    Anthonysgodfather

    Well said Suvir. You are much more "generous" then I. If I had had your experience(s) I would never consider stepping foot in to the place again.

    D

    suvir saran

    Not more generous than any one else. Just practical.

    Having been in the business, I understand that we go through tough times and phases. Maybe the owners are going through a tough time ad thought seating plans that are tougher on the customer and better on their own pocket would be something wise to try. Not realizing in this business the customers experience comes first. Above and beyond anything else.

    I have enjoyed the fries at Raveneous every bite I have taken. And I have had many there. And so, it does not take much for me to say that when back, if I am treated like a normal person, and given the respect and welcome any customer deserves, I would be more than happy to come back and report that perhaps the last few experiences were an anomaly.

    And even as I say thing for myself, I must add that I have friends, dear ones, that live closer to Ravenous and go there more often. I would want them to report back that attitudes have changed. Otherwise it may be just me feeling the difference. I would much rather hear from a stranger that they had an absolute wonderful experience. Not around food. We know that is good. But around the welcome and seating arrangements.

    Stacey

    Oh those pesky accents! Why can't everyone just talk alike? Thanks for this honest review. Nothing ruins a meal out for me more than an unwelcoming, unfriendly demeanor from the staff. I guess some either don't care or feel they have a niche market cornered and don't have to try. Wrong! I know some great little diners that have fabulous fries. There are always options. Hospitality is an intrinsic part of the restaurant experience. A few that come to mind who get it: Max London's in Saratoga Springs, Emperor's (Wolf Road in Colonie...plain Jane atmosphere, FABULOUS Chinese food), The Village Pizzeria in Galway (don't let the name fool you. This place is a trip to Tuscany), and of course, Devi...the warmest staff I've ever encountered in a Manhattan restaurant.

    OK Suvir, back to practice: The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain....

    suvir saran

    Emperor's??? Chinese? Really? Is it great? Charlie and I miss wonderful Chinese in this area.
    We always go back to NYC for Chinese or call upon Sally Longo to make us dumplings.

    I am practicing " Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain..." Thanks for keeping me earnest with that exercise.

    mary

    Us ladies down this way all found your accent quite charming and smooth, like buttah (or should I say ghee?)and very musical. Perhaps they need to get out more and expand their audio horizons. :)

    suvir saran

    You are too sweet Mary.
    Smooth like buttah (ghee), eh? You are funny.
    I really think for me the experience was marred by the seating plan in the heads of the owners and how they train the staff to not give seats they believe could be filled by larger groups of people.
    Whilst all restaurants have a plan for optimum seating for highest performance as far as check average goes, a smart restaurant changes that plan within seconds when a guest requests a particular seat and especially if the restaurant is not packed. That is common sense. But it did not seem something commonly grasped at Ravenous.

    My accent and the call being dropped is the least of my concerns. It had nothing to do with the experience. That happened because I wanted to write this blog and needed a last name.

    Sadder still the fact that they make very good fries. Fries are my favorite food group. That they sell them laced with bad attitude kills me.

    It is my hope that somehow word reaches the owners that they can better their business by changing attitude and warming their hearts to their customers and their needs. If that can happen I will be a very happy diner eating at Ravenous.

    The crepes are another story. They are just not for me. And that is nothing I would expect the owners to change. I am sure they have a following of loyal fans for their crepes. EVEN the Taj Mahal.

    Anthonysgodfather

    Looks as if the folks at Ravenous deleted my post wit the link to your blog. ;-)

    suvir saran

    That speaks volumes for their confidence around who they are.

    People trash restaurants and owners of them all the time. One is thicker skinned then most in this business. You take from each experience what you know is true, and I personally ignore the rest. It is silly to delete, argue or fight someone commenting about you. One should have the decency to allow that freedom of open discussion.

    Part of the drawback and gift of the internet is the free access that sites allow people. It comes with both high praise that can be fake or bought and also bashing that could be from a competitor or somehow disgruntled customer or someone on a mission to attack you. Smart customers reading reviews online know just how to skim through the highs and lows and find the honest medium that makes logical sense.

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