Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday Lunch at Mediterranean Grill

160-24 Willets Point Boulevard, Queens, NY 11357, 718-281-4210


Last Sunday, Brian and I drove to his mother's house in Queens to take her out to lunch.  There aren't a lot of options near her home but she'd found this place a few months back.  We hadn't made reservations so, given that Sunday post-church lunch places tend to be crowded, we were prepared for a wait.  But, we walked into an almost empty restaurant.  Hmm...

The place is pretty although quite small.  But, since we had it mostly to ourselves, we were shown to a comfortable table.  They don't have a full liquor license and only serve beer and wine.  That's not really a problem at lunch and, actually, Brian did find a lovely red that he quite liked.

A rather flustered looking waiter presented us with menus that featured selections of Greek, Mediterranean and middle-eastern cuisines and quite a lot of it was tempting.  We placed our orders but, a few minutes later, the flustered waiter returned to clarify what we wanted.  Since we were nearly the only customers, it didn't make a very good impression.

Tasty Greek salads arrived along with a basket of warm pita bread and a tzatziki dipping sauce.  We actually found the traditional yogurt and cucumber dip to be quite thin and far from the best example of it we'd tasted but it was still a nice change from butter or olive oil.  When entrees arrived, however, the order was wrong.  Brian's mother had chosen a brunch omelet which she liked.  I'd ordered the falafel platter and Brian ordered lamb.  But, instead, both he and I received falafel platters.  The waiter apologized and offered to have the kitchen make the correct dish but the entrees had been rather slow to arrive and Brian chose not to wait and eat the falafel instead.  It was actually delicious, served with pita, cucumber and tomato salad, more tzatziki (although tahini would have been more appropriate) and lemon potatoes.  Neither of us actually cared for the potatoes but the rest was quite tasty.

The manager/ owner stopped by our table to apologize for the mishap and the waiter returned with an extremely tempting dessert cart.  Brian's mother had the Greek custard pie which she adored.  Brian and I shared an order of baklava which was also delectable and the portion generous enough to share.  However, more errors arrived along with the check.  We were charged for three glasses of wine when we'd only had two.  And, to add insult to injury, Brian was charged for the more expensive lamb dish rather than the falafel he'd settled for.  Again, the manager returned to our table to apologize, correct the bill and mumble something about computer problems.

So, it comes down to this.   The food was good, the service lousy and the management, in our opinion, inept.  If I owned a restaurant, particularly one that was nearly empty at a time when others are full, I would do all I could to please my customers.  Not only does that waiter need much more training but, so does the manager.  Had she offered a complimentary glass of wine to make up for the entree mix-up, rather than charge us for an extra glass we didn't have, we would have been more quick to forgive the incorrect order.  Had she offered a complimentary dessert rather than an incorrect bill, it would have left a much sweeter taste in our mouths about returning.  We paid and left, shaking our heads in wonder.

3 comments:

  1. I used to live in Queens and spent the majority of my childhood there but never tried the Mediterranean Grill before. After reading about your experience, I'll be sure to stay away. I've worked as a line cook before, which is why it irritates me sooo much when mistakes like these are made, ESPECIALLY when the restaurant is empty. It was unacceptable and they should have offered something for so many mistakes. Thanks for sharing your review and I'm sorry for such a lousy experience, what a shame.

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    1. Thanks, FSE. How restaurants deal with mishaps says a lot about them. I remember years ago having a business lunch at Angelo & Maxie's downtown. We were at a booth near the front when a mouse ran across my foot. My scream brought a full bore response with lots of staff trying to catch the mouse. They moved us to a table in the back and, at the end of our meal, offered comp desserts. We thanked them but declined dessert, just asking for some coffee. But the coffee came with two huge desserts and a message from the manager. She said we must have something sweet to make up for the bitter start of the meal. And it worked because we ate the desserts and returned many times since then.

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  2. They need Robert Irvine from that Restaurant Impossible show to show up and whip them into shape, teach them the error of their ways! It always blows my minds when businesses don't try harder to earn and keep your business. There's way too much competition nowadays to not!

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