Sunday, November 11, 2007

Joseph Beth's Bronte Bistro

Today was a rainy Sunday in Cincinnati, my husband had to work all day so I was stuck with entertaining two very small children. My thought was to go play with Thomas the Train at Joseph-Beth Bookstore, followed by brunch at their café. I had never had brunch there, only lunch and dinner, and it's usually pretty good. Perfect plan, I thought...perfect plan!

So out we went, under the rain, on our adventure. After about an hour of Thomas antics (my limit) we headed for the bistro...there was a wait. Ask any parent, being told there is a "15 - 30 minute wait" at any restaurant when you are stuck with a 2 and 3 year old is like being told "and our waiting room is in the bowels of hell, right this way...". But it took 20 minutes and we perservered (after a million "do you want to go home?" threats made by yours truly)...
The hostess, by the way, was delightful and tried to help me entertain the wee-ones.
We got to our table and I could feel the eyes of my fellow brunchers upon us..."Oh GREAT, KIDS!" I know that's what they were thinking. Oh well...One must eat.
Our waitress arrived. You know that feeling when your waitress arrives and you are CERTAIN she hates your very existence and that of your offspring? That's the kind of waitress we got. Greeeaaat. I should have made the same threat to her as I did my kids: "Do you want to go home?" But that would have gotten spit in my coffee, so I refrained.

So I took a look at their brunch menu. This café is known for serving from the store's cookbooks, so you got to see the inspriation for various menu items. They had all sorts of things on the menu: omelets, scrambled eggs, creme brulée french toast, fritattas, you name it. It all looked good, but I settled on the scrambled eggs, which came with Paula Dean home fries (read: fat fat fat fries), bacon, toast and a fruit cup.

When "Debbie Downer" the waitress came back, I asked her for two chocolate milks for the kids, a cup of coffee for me, and a pumpkin muffin, pronto! I wasn't demanding, but I needed something to entertain the "petits monstres" until our meals were ready. I think she rolled her eyes and off she went to pour a couple chocolate milks.

She returned with a blueberry muffin. Although I had ordered pumpkin, I made zero fuss. First of all because she scared the hoo-ha out of me, and secondly because I just needed food to entertain these babies of mine. I think this is what is behind the obesity epidemic in America...moms shoving food at their children so they won't make a fuss in restaurants. Debbie took my order, and I ordered the scrambled eggs, a grilled cheese and silver dollar pancakes for the kids.

My cup of coffee began running low. I figured someone would be by to magically fill it up again...It never happened.

We got our meals. Immediately I was confused. My scrambled eggs were not scrambled. Are scrambled eggs supposed to be a mass of egg with cheddar cheese melted on top? Isn't that an omelet, or some version of an omelet? I saw no evidence of scrambling going on in this egg. But no way was I going to say anything to dear old Debbie, an egg is an egg. But to make matters worse, they had no taste. That was a downer. First it's Debbie Downer and now Scrambled Egg Downer. The fruit was rather tasteless, and the bacon wasn't great either. It wasn't fatty, which was good, but it didn't have much going on. Kind of like eating a greasy salt lick. I would suggest they invest in some Applewood bacon, that stuff is the pork product of the Gods. Love it.

I had been nursing my coffee, which was now 7/8 gone. My waitress looked so everyone. I tried to flag her a couple of times to get more coffee, but she flew right by me every time. I swear, she hated my existence. Some elderly woman next to me had a question about her bill and WOAH boy I had to divert my was like watching Medusa herself in the process of turning human flesh to stone. This gal was either having a bad day or a bad life, I wasn't sure which. So I didn't ask for more coffee, I just wanted out.

I ate 1/2 the eggs, one piece of enormously dry and cold toast, a few pieces of tasteless melon and bacon and some YUMMY home fries. Leave it to Paula Dean to put cream cheese in her breakfast potatoes, but that works. It was the best part of my meal. You can't really go wrong with home fries and cream cheese.

Near the end of the meal, I glanced over at my 2 year old son. He was covered in syrup. Uh-oh, I was going to need help from dear old Deb. When she came back to the table, I nicely asked her for a glass of water (shouldn't I have had a glass of water already?) so I could douse my son and she absolutely glared at me and just nodded yes. No words. No facial expression (maybe she had just had Botox injections??) I couldn't believe it as she walked away to satisfy my incredibly demanding needs.

Needless to say, Deb got much less than my usual 20% tip.

I go to Bronte Bistro often, since I go to Joseph-Beth Bookstore often. For lunch it is pretty good, they have great salads. But this brunch, with its solid scrambled eggs, dry and cold toast, non-refilled coffee, bland bacon and tasteless fruit, I have to give it a C-.

First Watch is right down the street from here, they have the best brunch in town. I should never have strayed.....


Beth Merusi said...

Dear Lesley,
I am so sorry that you experience at the Bistro was less than perfect. We are so much better than that. Please allow us a chance to change your opinion of us by trying us again for brunch.
Most sincerely,
Beth Merusi, GM
Bronte Bistro, Rookwood

Lesley said...

Wow Beth, thanks for your comment.
I do enjoy coming to the bistro, but that one day was pretty awful. I have found that some of the waitstaff is rather aloof...mostly during busy times.

I'll try another brunch, those potatoes were worth it.

Thanks for your concern.

Martha said...

Lesley, This is extremely mean spirited. Do you fancy yourself a reviewer???
I have been to bronte. Is it really the right place for two small children especially on Sunday brunch?
Yes, you probably got bad service (I have been a server and if she had been me, I would have gotten management to help me with your numerous urgent requests). Perhaps the waitstaff is aloof because they've been run to death by your shenanigans in the past.
And....ahem, what kind of gratuity have you left in the past. If you bring small kids in and expect 5-star service, I hope you are tipping 20% or more. Or else the very busy servers at any restaurant that I have worked at would have to put your needs low on the list next to someone who tips fairly.

Lesley said...

Oh dear, you are taking this very personally.
First of all, I waited tables for 4 years, I get it. No need to treat me like I don't.

Secondly, I had no "urgent requests"...other than a muffin. And she brought the wrong kind, and I didn't say a thing, just gave it to the kids. I would have enjoyed a refill on my coffee but she never paused for a moment to let me ask. No "urgency" on either of our parts there...

Thirdly, I've been to the cafe many many many times, since it opened in the 90s. I've had decent service, I've had bad service. The service on this day was comically bad. If you were sitting with me, you would have not believed it. To most people, "mean-spirited" is getting eyes rolled at me, huffing and puffing around my and every other table the woman was waiting on, literally yelling at the elderly woman at the table next to me. This was not "my" problem. She was being rude to everyone in her path. That's "mean-spirited".

And ...I always leave 20%, I know how to tip well and fairly. As I said I was a waitress, I get it. But when I waited tables, I wouldn't have EVER rolled my eyes, raised my voice, stomped away, ignored my table like this woman did. And if I had, I would have expected less than 20%. Do you tip 20% when you get lousy service?
Why take it so personally Martha? I've spoken personally to Beth, the manager of the cafe, and she didn't take it so personally. In fact, we had a wonderful, friendly exchange. She was highly professional and "got it". She told me that she agreed she had some issues to iron out. There you go.
Oh, and in the age of the internet, EVERY customer is a reviewer of EVERY service out there. Have you never told your friends about a good or bad experience at a restaurant? If so, do you fancy yourself a reviewer?