Pollen Street Social and Charlotte’s Place – surprising similarities

June 12, 2013

One Saturday night we went to our local restaurant Charlotte’s Place to celebrate hubby’s birthday. We have been a few times over the years but it has never really done it for me. Mostly because of the lack of atmosphere, although when a load of us took over the downstairs for a birthday celebration then it was buzzing.
But it gets great write ups – has won some award for best local restaurant- and we want to support it. Have to say hubby has always been a big fan and we all know he is the connoisseur of cuisine in our house.
Pollen Street Social is the darling of the critics, a restaurant for those who know about food and everyone wants to go there. But the real reason I put them together is that both of them miss the mark when it comes to service and to some extent atmosphere although we had great times at both.

The food is “technically good” in both places, (better in Pollen Street) but that is not enough for me. It is a given that we want good food. What elevates a meal to a fabulous occasion is the service. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Pollen Street did wrong – the reception staff were friendly, realxed and welcoming – excellent indeed. But the waiting staff too formal. Trying too hard perhaps. No real engagement and interaction. A lack of individuality.

Whereas Charlotte’s Place went the extra mile to stun me with their disinterest in service. That is a bit harsh as our food waitress was OK, it was the sommellier that left me with my mouth open. She opened our bottle of champagne behind hubby’s head, poured herself a quarter of a wine glass, tasted it and then asked if hubby would like to taste. I said that she could tell us what it was like as she’d just tasted it. “Of course. I wouldn’t want to give you anything that wasn’t perfect.” I didn’t want to ruin the atmosphere that evening by complaining, but I have never ever had my bottle of champagne tasted for me. I don’t remember ever having a wine waiter drink my wine ( altho hubby says it has happened a couple of times when decanting a red – but then just a tiny spot). After she’d poured our glasses, she then took the remains of what she’d poured herself upstairs.
Now, I’ve had them smell corks, but never take a good portion. So I wrote to Charlotte’s Place to complain. I see it as a sign that they don’t really want feedback as you can’ t even email direct from their website let alone leave a public comment. So old school snail mail it was. And give them their due they rang me back. But there was no real interest in my experience – apparently that is the correct way to do it, and the person who rang me is a sommellier himself with 10 years experience and this is how they do it all good restaurants. It is the correct way. And our wine waitress had come with him from his last place and was excellent. So I must be wrong. Funny she didn’t do it for any of the subsequent bottles then. Funny how she didn’t simply explain this is the way we are taught to do it. Funny how she didn’t smile all evening or try to engage with us. It is a cold impersonal place because the staff are not a happy bunch.
Anyway, they have marked our account so that next time we’ll get a free round of drinks. Next time? You must be joking.


2 Responses to “Pollen Street Social and Charlotte’s Place – surprising similarities”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I am confused – it’s June – and you are celebrating Richards birthday? Is your social life so full you couldn’t all fit it in???

    • Not quite! We did celebrate it on time but then it took a while for me to write to them and be able to speak to their operations director; he did respond pretty much when they got the letter but I kept being in meetings and unable to take his call. And then I had to find the time to write it up….

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