For the last night of restaurant week, we chose to go to Benham's. I had really been looking forward to the meal, because of so many good things I had heard from friends who had previously been employed by Benham's.
There were five of us in our party. We were seated right away, but it was quite some time before our server greeted us. She had a party of ten next to us, so we remained patient while she tended to them. We ordered drinks, and they along with the restaurant week appetizer were brought in a timely manner. We all ordered from the restaurant week menu.
Three of us ordered salads, and we had one soup. The salad was supposed to be a warm apple and bacon salad. What came was a bed of mixed field greens, with a sickeningly sweet vinegar based dressing. There was plenty of bacon, but only two chunks of apple on each salad hardly qualifies using the word apple in the title. Also with the salads was a bread basket with exactly one small piece of bread for each person at the table. We had a baby in our party, and she was not given utensils, a plate to eat on or even offered a drink.
It was quite some time before we saw our server again. I would have ordered another split of wine, but I was never offered another drink. My son ordered a Coke, and when he finished it, it was never refilled again. When our server returned, it was with our entrees, and our salad plates hadn't even been cleared! She thrust my dinner plate towards me and said, "trade ya". Is this fine dining? I think not! Everyone at the table had to pick up their salad plates before she could serve their dinner, and we paid 20.09 a head for this!
Our entree was pretty good. We all had a New York strip steak with a whiskey peppercorn sauce. The sauce needed to be beefier and more peppery. The mashed potatoes and winter vegetable medley were great. After our entrees were finished we sat unattended for a good twenty minutes. When she finally returned to clear our plates, she was told what desserts we wanted, but it was another fifteen minutes before they came out, and when she brought them out, she brought the wrong ones! We didn't bother correcting her, because we were beyond ready to leave at that point.
Three of us got a Strawberry Brulee, and one person got chocolate cake. All of the desserts were sprinkled with chopped mint. I can see the mint with the strawberries, but chocolate cake? yuck! And why chopped? A sprig is much more attractive and more easily picked off by those who don't like it. When the server brought our desserts, she stated that she would be right back with our bill, but instead of doing that, we watched her begin two new parties.
After we finished dessert, we sat yet another twenty minutes for our checks. I finally had to get up and speak to the owner. I told her we needed our checks and that we had been waiting a really long time. She never responded, so I went back to the table. She must have said something to the server, because about five minutes later the server returned with the check. She set it on the table and walked away. We paid and left a 17% percent tip, which is way less than I usually tip.
On the way out, I stopped and told the owner that I would like to comment on the service. I began to tell her everything that went wrong, when the server approached and interrupted our conversation. She began to argue with my assessment of our dining experience! She actually asked me if I never made mistakes, and then she blamed her poor service on the fact that they were just busy. The owner never spoke to me, and instead just stood there while her server argued with me. It's no small wonder that this restaurant is failing.
There is a lesson here for restauranteurs, and that is that poor service can ruin a perfectly good meal. Although I think the food at Benham's is dated and needs a fresh approach, it was pretty good. With the proper service, I probably would have thought it was fantastic. At this point however, all I really remember about our meal was the abyssmal service. If I had wanted to eat at a restaurant that doesn't pre-bus, and where the server is embittered with bad attitude, I could have gone to Frisch's and saved myself a lot of money. The owner never apologized for our bad experience, and barely made eye contact with me. We will certainly never darken their door again.
The link that follows is to Benham's mission statement. Needless to say, it is highly ironic.