A couple of weeks ago I took my wife to Tavern on the Lake in Metro West. We had an absolutely great experience there. I recall finding easy parking and walking right in with no wait (we had a reservation). The drinks were good and the food was fabulous. On our first trip, I had the sea scallops which were huge, clean and fresh and perfectly cooked. My wife had the ginger chili salmon which she raved about. About the only thing that was not good on that last visit was the dessert…the Tropical Split which was not all that great. I reviewed the Tavern here..and gave it a glowing review. So I won’t sit here and review it again…but I do have some things to say about this place. I have since had to go back and submit a revised review. Read on!
We visited this restaurant again, and brought Rick with us. This time, we had a different server named Thompson who was young and somewhat inexperienced. He seemed to ignore our cues and was quite pushy and opinionated. Thompson seemed to enjoy telling us what he liked about the menu but seemed to ignore any of our preferences. First off, Rick asked what kinds of Vodka the bar stocked…and was pleased to hear that they had a potato-based vodka…Chopin. So he ordered a dirty martini. I copied his order and I ordered my wife a glass of Clean Slate Riesling. So we sat and talked. And we talked. And talked. And no drinks. In the meantime, Thompson came back around a few times and tried to push us into getting an appetizer. Rick wanted the dip assortment and my wife wanted Thompson’s suggestion of the Tiger Shrimp. Since we had the dip assortment on a previous visit, we opted for the Shrimp. More time passed. The shrimp arrived…it was fried shrimp dipped in some sort of sweet chili sauce. Not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe we should have tried the dips again. At this point, Rick was foaming at the mouth and dripping with sarcasm…we needed those drinks. So then the drinks arrived along with a giggling Thompson who explained to us how he was the area’s expert on Martini’s and remarked that real Martini aficionados only drink GIN martinis made in a glass container. Fine. I thought the martini was great…Rick commented that he thought it was not that good.
Some time in between getting the drinks and the appetizer, Thompson took our dinner orders. My wife wanted the salmon again, well done. Thompson joked “you can get it rare, medium rare or medium…” She said “well done” and Thompson smirked. Rick got his filet well done and Thompson asked him if he wanted it butterflied. Rick said “No.” Thompson smirked. I ordered the creole snapper on gumbo. Thompson jotted it down and hightailed it out of there.
No sooner did we finish the last shrimp, the entrees were out. Rick’s filet was about 1/2″ thick and butterflied. It was also cooked rare. Margarita forked into her salmon and saw a raw middle, ala seared tuna. My snapper was good. No Thompson and no $50 bottle of wine we had ordered. Then came Thompson saying our wine would be out. 10 minutes had passed. The wife sent back the salmon to a non-apologetic Thompson. About the time Rick and I were half through the entree and my wife had nothing, the wine came out. At least it was good. Then the salmon arrived.
Rick was going rabid…about to go off on the world…and almost as irritated as he was when the UPS guy did him wrong in ’98. But he hid it well…sort of. So dinner was finished off. Rick asked for a dessert menu. We ordered the mousse and Rick wanted the vanilla crepes. Rick and I ordered port with our dessert selections and the amount of port we got was around 1 oz, which I felt was very small. Rick either misread his menu or had a misprinted one and was asking the roving floor manager about why they only had one port on the menu. Her answer was sort of rude and accusatory. I think she figured we were drunk. We were but we were not stupid either, nor were we in McDonald’s.
Then the bill came, or several versions thereof. I was very confused about the handling of the bill. Even with a restaurant.com coupon, the total bill kept changing wildly in price and I was never sure if the server was being honest with me about the overall bill. I was given a final total receipt to sign which was not itemized…which is also unacceptable. I think we got ripped off to the tune of about $50-$60 but I seem to have lost the receipt showing the total. Encountering this many problems is unacceptable but I am prepared to give this place just one more chance. It would be a shame for our excellent first experience to be a fluke.
I am sorely embarrassed that Rick had such a poor experience at Tavern on the Lake. It really pissed me off. Thompson was a total jack-nob and the manager was not much better. With attitudes like that…they may be folding under soon.