A Cheese Plate & Dreadful Service at CAFE LALO, NYC
One of the major qualities restaurants must have to get me coming back is consistency. When I lived on 86th and Central Park West, I used to frequent the illustrious Cafe Lalo on West 83rd Street for brunch with visiting friends or for quick bites solo. I already did a write up on their delicious quiche and fantastic desserts (click on link above), but the other night I went in for dinner.
I waited for my colleague for some time, so I took the liberty of ordering a cheese plate.
Aside from offering fresh organic ingredients, unique recipes and lavish pastries, Cafe Lalo also offers some great and distinctive imported cheeses. They run about $5 each, but Cafe Lalo also offers a platter of three seasonal cheese choices for $13, so I ordered a gouda, bleu and a sharp cheddar! The platter also comes with a complimentary shot of dessert wine, but the rounded stem on the shot glass did not make for easy balance. I accidentally spilled mine on the cheese platter.
The server had offered to bring me another glass, but to my surprise, moments later, she returned only to tell me management (or whoever was in charge) would not replace the mini shot of wine! I couldn’t believe it! This certainly was not the service I’ve grown accustomed to at Cafe Lalo. Not that I needed or even wanted the wine, but it’s the principal of the matter! I mean, I didn’t even take a sip and I surely didn’t request it come served in such a glass, but I was curious about how it would taste with the cheese. An experience I was completely denied.
You can clearly see from the photos, the wine was all over the place! Anyway, not only did I NOT receive another glass, nobody even bothered to assist with a clean up! I used the one napkin given to me for a glass of red wine I had already pre-ordered and tissue from my brief case, while the bevy of foreign waitresses ignored my mess and instead mingled, chatted and guffawed at the register posted at the epicenter of the tight restaurant. Why and how I received such service is beyond me.
Anyway, the cheese platter was luxe and totally delivered! It made for a yummy appetizer that was flavorful and rich! The toasted bread that accompanied the platter was sinfully crunchy, buttery and good! The food at Cafe Lalo is quite satisfying, even if the service isn’t. However, when my colleague arrived, we eventually left and headed to another space. I didn’t want my client to experience the same snub only for me to be embarrassed, considering people trust my culinary instincts.
Customer Service is so important to me. Customers spend money and want to feel appreciated and respected in doing so, and it’s such a miserable and uncomfortable feeling when dining out and the hosts, servers, and/or management don’t bend over backward for their clientele. I mean, it’s not like I went to McDonald’s!
I had previously raved about Cafe Lalo, but such a minute refusal like that during my last visit goes a long way. It certainly rubbed me wrong. To be honest, I’m not sure when or if I will return to Cafe Lalo again, and this disappoints me greatly, considering my past love affair with this Upper West Side spot.