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Sweets and Savories

Sweets and Savories
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  • Post #31 - April 9th, 2006, 6:53 pm
    Post #31 - April 9th, 2006, 6:53 pm Post #31 - April 9th, 2006, 6:53 pm
    mersmann wrote:Then to top it all off, I was over billed by $200. I honestly didn't notice at the time (I mean Sweets and Savories is certainly a bargain at twice the price, and I wasn't in a very "mathy" state of mind, so I just signed the slip and happilly bounced out the door) but I went back today, and we solved the case.


    Funny coincidence. Mrs. JiLS and I had a very nice dinner at S&S a week ago Friday. We ordered ala carte, and the service was definitely not rushed at all; actually, the pacing was pretty much ideal, even a bit slow. I can't add much to the favorable food reviews posted here, with which I generally agree (although I would say to stay away from the bread pudding; dry and just kind of odd, both in texture and flavor). However, we were also overcharged. I don't know what the root of your overcharge problem may have been, mersmann, but in our case it related to the wine. They have two bottles of Chateauneuf de Pape on the list, from the same house ... but different labels. One is $90, the other is $62. We ordered the $90 bottle. But we were given the $62 bottle. I noticed the wrong bottle had been brought but didn't say anything immediately, because this was a very good wine and, hey - their mistake saved me $28! At the end of the meal, however, checking the bill, I saw they had written up the higher priced bottle. They were very quick to fix the problem when I brought it to their attention, and very apologetic. Again, I'm not alleging anything other than an interesting coincidence, and admonsihing other diners - wherever you are dining - to read your bill carefully. Mistakes do get made.
    JiLS
  • Post #32 - April 9th, 2006, 7:01 pm
    Post #32 - April 9th, 2006, 7:01 pm Post #32 - April 9th, 2006, 7:01 pm
    ours was just a straight up addition problem, we looked at the bill today and it said food: $240 beverages: $85 total: $525

    I felt pretty foolish for not catching it, but due to a mix between the convivial atmosphere at the table, the rapid-fire wine pairing and a general personal distaste of scrunching up my brow and analyzing the bill when taking friends out for an anniversary dinner, I missed it.

    Honest mistake, I am certain, and like I said, it certainly doesn't dissuade me from wanting to go back.

    Also, I wanted to add that I really liked that the one server had recognized us from Moto, and it's that sort of friendliness that I like about the service at S&S, but I know my girlfriend was pretty embarrassed, and I'm certain there are more euphamistic ways to discuss vomit at the dinner table than "puke".
  • Post #33 - April 11th, 2006, 11:42 am
    Post #33 - April 11th, 2006, 11:42 am Post #33 - April 11th, 2006, 11:42 am
    I am the original poster's sister, Dawn, not friend (although I am that too) who was with her that evening and posted the clarifying remarks on Chowhound. First of all, regarding the comping of the meal, the owner(?) offered that after she had posted on Chowhound and after she had emailed him that same evening. So, no, her comments were not made after the meal was comped, but beforehand. So she couldn't have "fessed up" when she made her comments. Maybe she should have gone back later but she was quite upset at the backlash she received to her original posting and as far as I know I don't think she has gone back for more! I suppose she was a bit naive to assume that she could give her objective, honest feedback at Chowhound. I don't know why they deleted the owners comments, but suffice it to say, we had a bad service experience, did in fact make a few comments during the meal but, regretfully, hoped it would get better on its own without having to make it even more unpleasant by any type of confrontation. Sure, that was our mistake, but it shouldn't have been so.

    Bottom line - Amy's comments were honest and fair and, yes, incomplete, perhaps unfortunately delivered in the heat of the moment, when readers may have ultimately been better served had she slept on it and posted a somewhat watered-down review the next day. However, I do not think it is fair or productive to bad-mouth someone for using the boards to convey their very real experience, whether positive or negative. Conflicting opinions, also with plenty of detail, I am sure are most welcome.
  • Post #34 - April 18th, 2006, 3:57 pm
    Post #34 - April 18th, 2006, 3:57 pm Post #34 - April 18th, 2006, 3:57 pm
    I'm currently wading thru a longish post including a Saturday chef's menu at Sweets and Savories. In general a fine(and stuffing) meal. I'm posting in order to glean others' apprehensions/interpretations of one dessert course:

    my party of 6 was teased by the waitstaff to guess the sorbet flavor on offer...no one got it

    the staff revealed the flavor as apricot chardonnay..good enough...it was perfecty fine...nothing worth noting

    later, the s/o(not wanting to spoil anything for our guests) revealed that he spied a giant tub of Ciao Bella sorbetto in a trashcan in the kitchen(or was it by the bar?) it's a small place...we were seated at a long table at the back between the bathrooms and kitchen(woohoo...it wasn't that bad...I suppose)

    looking online, I found this:

    http://www.ciaobellagelato.com/pr_flavo ... ocate_t=ny

    scroll for "apricot chardonnay"
    ---

    so, question is, isn't Sweets and Savories known for it's seasonal sorbets made, ostensibly, in-house?

    was this presentation(and bizarre guessing game) disingenuous?

    why bother with the rigamarole...for that matter...why serve it?

    Everything else appeared hands-on and thoughtful.

    I like Ciao Bella gelatos and sorbets...it's just kind of a headscratcher...
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #35 - April 18th, 2006, 4:29 pm
    Post #35 - April 18th, 2006, 4:29 pm Post #35 - April 18th, 2006, 4:29 pm
    I don't think S & S pretends the sorbet or ice cream is made in house. In fact, when I once asked David to tell me the secret to his delicious vanilla ice cream, he proudly said that the key is to make sure to take the Haagen Dazs out of the freezer and bring it up to temperature before serving. So many things about this small neighborhood place are homemade, and served so gernerously that to me this ice cream/ sorbet shortcut is no big deal.
  • Post #36 - April 18th, 2006, 6:10 pm
    Post #36 - April 18th, 2006, 6:10 pm Post #36 - April 18th, 2006, 6:10 pm
    Actually, it is a relatively "big deal."

    Instead of playing this cutesy "guess the sorbet" game...placing this course to the forefront of diners' experiences...
    how about...(instead of just excising the sorbet from the menu, I suppose)...scripting something along the lines of: "here we offer a Ciao Bella sorbet not available thru their retail wing"...such a caveat would both reveal the provenance of the palate cleanser/dessert as well as implying the kitchen's faith in the product...and, perhaps, engender goodwill via disclosure.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #37 - April 18th, 2006, 8:39 pm
    Post #37 - April 18th, 2006, 8:39 pm Post #37 - April 18th, 2006, 8:39 pm
    Christopher,

    How do you know for sure that the "bought" stuff was actually used, (not that there's anything wrong with that)?

    Lots of places save plastic containers from crabmeat, sour cream, or even sorbet. Run 'em through the dushwasher a few times and they're like new, and free!

    Did your S/O see the Caio Bella being scooped? :wink:

    :twisted:
  • Post #38 - April 18th, 2006, 9:04 pm
    Post #38 - April 18th, 2006, 9:04 pm Post #38 - April 18th, 2006, 9:04 pm
    When G Wiv, Dicksond, and spouses went the first time, one of us asked whether the ice cream was made in house, and they said no, it was Ciao Bella (and I for one had already seen the tub in plain sight from the dining room). So no, I don't think they're known for making their own ice cream, nor do they hide the truth.
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  • Post #39 - April 18th, 2006, 10:15 pm
    Post #39 - April 18th, 2006, 10:15 pm Post #39 - April 18th, 2006, 10:15 pm
    The only ice cream I've ever had there which was described as house-made was the white truffle ice cream that was available during truffle season. They've never told me the sorbet was house-made. Truth be told, if it tastes good I don't really care where it comes from.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #40 - April 18th, 2006, 10:24 pm
    Post #40 - April 18th, 2006, 10:24 pm Post #40 - April 18th, 2006, 10:24 pm
    ... which leads me to wonder about the interesting fois gras sorbet served during an LTH gathering there in February...that certainly was original!! :)
  • Post #41 - April 18th, 2006, 10:27 pm
    Post #41 - April 18th, 2006, 10:27 pm Post #41 - April 18th, 2006, 10:27 pm
    Okay, forgive me for initially forgetting one of the highlights of my second meal-- the foie gras ice cream. Yes, they must be making ice cream now. At least some of it. Wouldn't surprise me if they're using Ciao Bella tubs though.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #42 - April 19th, 2006, 8:06 am
    Post #42 - April 19th, 2006, 8:06 am Post #42 - April 19th, 2006, 8:06 am
    Thanks for the responses. I certainly wasn't trying to stir up any S&S controversy. ;)

    Evil Ronnie...point taken as per re-using tubs.

    As I said...I just found the situation odd...it didn't impinge upon the dining experience as a whole.

    Mainly the "game": the waitstaff walks a very fine line between convivial and ingratiating. More on that when I eventually finish my write-up.

    I believe I'd read somewhere other than LTH that S&S was known for their sorbets. I could easily be wrong. The reporter may have been wrong.

    Anyway, I enjoy Ciao Bella at home and (if it was used)it functioned perfectly fine in it's place towards the end of the meal.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #43 - April 21st, 2006, 12:32 pm
    Post #43 - April 21st, 2006, 12:32 pm Post #43 - April 21st, 2006, 12:32 pm
    warning---looooooooong, integral digressions, bad language, general politically-incorrect mayhem:

    (pirated intact from my obligatory blog)

    Duck Season, Rabbit Season

    We planned on morel hunting this week; traveling back down south post the recent wedding(last visit). Mid-April(last week) was meant as the culmination of plotting vis a vis LA friends in town for Easter. Plans change; Tom’s Aunt Betty died of bacterial pneumonia. We were summoned for her funeral. Mark and Ralph were left to their own devices.

    ---when did the Monee, IL Burger King go all ghetto---? I prefer rural BK’s. They tend toward the competent side of incompetency far more than their urban brethren. But this one...whew...(is there a term ala “fag hag” for the fat white girl in cornrows teh sprech de argot?) anyway...as the manager, she spent our entire meal of
    shittty medium number 1’s bitching at her subordinate to “put yr gawdamn hat back on...”

    ---tweaker ctrl across the street where I tried to find bottled water, but eventually gave up when I saw the line of jittering, grizzled baby-bump’d tweens queued for their lotto fix

    The evening prior to the funeral we had ham. Poor Tom...we’d been eating off a Cure 81 all the past week.

    Funerals...fuck. I’d just hung out with Aunt Betty at the wedding while her tablemates cut a rug. Speaking of which, a bundle of breezy coral and carmine scarves took my arm as I stood outside on break from the visitation. She said, “young man...young man...I used to go jitterbugging with her in there...she loved to jitterbug at old...unintelligible....” She tottered off; a dwindling blur of pinks smudged across the sunbleached parking lot.

    After the interment a local church offered us family potluck: strawberry jello gingerbread, deviled eggs, pasta salad, etc.

    Next day we took Tom’s Aunt Tammy and her son, Charlie, far across the nascent cornfields to Moonshine for fellowship of our own: those handformed burgers of perfection bejeweled with mustards and pickles. Relaxing out back swaddled by an early-Spring breeze. I dig everything about Moonshine. Maybe I’m just another tourist to them...can’t say I give damn.

    For those who keep score they’ve just broken their previous record---780-plus burgers sold in one afternoon. Moonshine Hours: close at 12:30 pm.

    That evening Tom’s dad loaded me up with chicken thighs(I did some in garlic/lemon/sage, others in my totally unfamous quasi-crypto “asian” marinade), brats, and we picked up some ribeyes at the IGA. IGA cuts some great meat, just don’t expect fresh veg or herbs...it IS farm country/America’s Heartland, afterall...

    Drank wine, sunstroked, self-smoked at the grill.

    We left Saturday morning, but not before a final (8 AM)---which entailed getting up to pack around 6 AM so we could hightail it over there in time---family gathering at D&W, a hella popular diner hidden off the main drag in Mattoon. It is what it is and cheap to boot. I’ve always liked D&W. Still feeling the effects of the previous day’s liquid endeavors, I might’ve only been able to get down a fruit cup. Canned fruit tasted damn fermented...and I felt remarkably refreshed upon finishing it...definitely some hair of the dog going on.

    Somehow we made it back and dropping off the car agreed to meet Mark n Ralph and Co. at the Marshall Field’s Frango Mint counter.

    Yay! Dave and Gill! Athens, Ohioans by way of South Africa. It’d been at least ten years since last hanging with Mark’s brother and his wife. Oy Veh! Too much time sweeps past. Would that there were more of it to play at catch-up. We made the best of...conversation riffing from Dave’s top secret energy work to Gill’s gig at the Ohio University Press and profound glee for all things culinary...(not something that I share, of course)...and jazz improvisation modalities.

    We hopped over to the Atwood Cafe’ where they gave us some unexpected shade about not wanting to serve us “drinks-only” in the half-empty restaurant. Whatevah. Might I mention that plenty’s the times I’ve had “just drinks” at The Atwood. Wrong foot notwithstanding we obliged and ordered a few nibbles. My special “Carribean” chicken soup wasn’t all that Carribean, but it was tasty. I guess the addition of a soupcon of black beans gives it that tropical flair. I grokked Dave and Gill were still stuffed from their dinner the night before at Blackbird.

    In fact this would soon become something of a running “gag” over the weekend; this preoccupation with being stuffed...images of gavage and geese.

    We taxiid up to our neighborhood and gave them the tour: Playboy Mansion....etc..., Palmer residence, Sullivan and Wright inspired edifices. Beautiful day for it.

    Mark and Tom n I wound up at a quiet pre-dinner rush Coq D’or for executive cocktails(i.e. a cocktail and a half). Liza Minelli was drinking? not ten feet away. I wasn’t sure it was her at first, but then I heard the voice and shooting her a surreptitious(not surreptitious enough) glance she gazed up with a sorta...”yeah...it’s me.” Liza w/ a Z, mf.

    To find reservations at 7pm Saturday Easter weekend:

    Geno’s East? Brasserie Jo? Le Colonial? NoMi? Carnivale? Cafe Absinthe? Nope and Nope.

    I offered...how about Sweets and Savories? Thanks LThforum. It just so happened to be Dave and Gill’s 29th wedding anniversary.

    S&S actually had room for 6 immediately.

    Figuring on the requisite 5-6 courses we went with the prix-fixe, or, as the waitstaff(more on them later) put it, “the chef would like to cook for you.” No matter that everyone else in the restaurant would, it turns out, be enjoying the same dishes. Mere semantics.

    Little did we know the chef had some surprises up his sleeve in the form of at least 4 more courses. What was this about farming geese?

    Eventually, I’ll get to some observations of the waitstaff. I’ll preface, however, that table service was exemplarily unobtrusive, professional. Glasses needed to be filled...suddenly they were...everytime we thought...dear god!...we must be done!...and another set of tableware arrived, it was with a whisper and a dash.

    Menu:

    chocolate brioche, salt brioche, and golden raisin/fennel bread

    foie gras mousseline with pomegranate coulis and toast poin(t)

    carrot ginger soup with creme fraiche and chives

    alaskan halibut w/ sweet corn butter over lobster claw and home fries

    asparagus risotto w/truffle oil

    farm-raised/organic/artisanal/boutique/free range/college-educated beef tenderloin and tomato chutney over truffled white corn polenta with herb-infused jus

    cheese plate: an aged goat’s milk, a queso fresco?, sweet gorgonzola with sweet balsamic/preserved kumquat/juniper berries

    apricot chardonnay sorbet ala Ciao Bella

    sticky toffee w/ creme anglaise

    chocolate ganache, chocolate sorbet, chocolate syrup, chocolatey chocolate choco-choc

    mignardise of housemade seville orange/laurel truffles

    citrus Pelligrino
    Bollinger
    white bordeaux

    ...so...much...food

    hence the repeated paraphrasing that evening of:

    “here...it’s just a mint...it’s wafer thin...only a wafer thin mint!”

    rundown:

    I enjoyed the sweet bite of fennel seed in the bread.

    Once the lone toast point disappeared the foie paired synergisticallly with a shred of chocolate brioche.

    I loved the sugar and back-of-palate ginger burn of the soup...just the right thick-ish consistency.

    The halibut didn’t do much for me, unfortunately...mine seemed a tad firmer than it ought and my lobster claw was awfully stringy. I thought the flavors were there w/ the sweet corn butter and what not, but the potato pushed it into the realm of heavy. Also, I started experiencing uncomfortable sinus/mucus issues not long after eating the dandelion? clover? sprigs atop the dish. That, of course, is my problem...not the kitchen’s. To their credit they replaced my non-shellfish-eating friend’s lobster with a scallop. I’m not a scallop fan(I’m not sure he is either) but, they tried.

    I eat sloooooooow.

    The relatively quick pace of the kitchen(and my fellow diners) :) began to wear a bit about this point.

    I eat soooooooo sloooooooooow.

    Sloooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

    Then came perhaps the highlight of the meal: a revelatory asparagus risotto. I doubt any risotto as aethereal has ever passed my lips. I could’ve devoured a trough of this and been in bliss. A dream of risotto. Dead on, knock my socks off.

    oh lord it’s....the meat course!

    Beautifully, rare-ish tenderloin...I dug the sweet counterpoint of the chutney...the jus was intriguingly tobacco-y...the truffled polenta, overkill. I suppose it’s a kind of heresy to refuse more truffle. I’d enjoyed my fill in the previous course.

    A fellow diner preferred his steak cooked thru...to the waitstaff’s credit I didn’t detect any rolling of the eyes...they did loudly announce the request to the kitchen, but they were pretty rambunctious to begin with...

    dear Hecate!...bring on the cheese!

    Mmm...the sweet gorgonzola esp. paired yummily with the accoutrements and I got Ralph’s kumquat.

    sorbet was fine...innocuous(Ciao Bella?)

    I’m not a chocoholic(something my mom will never understand as, each year, for whatever holiday...I receive a big box of it)...I’m definitely more of a sugar/fruit/herb/sweet spice person so...I was pleasantly surprised by a dessert of crunchy, caramelly sticky toffee...again...excellent...
    ...I could’ve burst...yet, I managed to scarf up most of mine...

    Followed by...egads! Chocolate on chocolate with chocolate choco cocoa chocachocachoca....urgh...

    well...I did my best...

    we left to an empty restaurant and Chinese takeout box of scrumptious flavored truffles...enjoyed from the fridge over the next few days...

    thank you Ralph

    ---

    I’ll keep my notes on the waitstaff to a minimum. Suffice to say I read a bit of that hoary, cliche’d...”I’m not just a waiter, but an actor” vibe off our main two. The woman, initially quirky, became a tad grating in her idiosyncrasies as the night wore on...

    I liked our head waiter at first. He amused our guests with his, as they put it, “Chicago verve.” At some point he asked where everyone was from. Four at the table had at one point(myself and Mark) gone to school in Ohio(Athens) or still lived there(Dave and Gill).

    So, the head waiter lights up and starts riffing on the great music scene in Athens(confusedly, I might add...he was conflating Akron, Ohio and Athens, Georgia)...and it wasn’t that he was wrong...whatever...it was his insistence that he was right and when we jokingly...politely attempted to put him right...he insisted we were wrong: “No, no, no...you’re wrong...I’m sorry...you’re wrong.” Friendly, if ingratiatingly so, up to that point, he suddenly became dismissive and arguably, rude. Odd.

    Post-dinner before we waddled our way out the door our friends were invited back to greet the chef. He was supposedly going to come out and greet US, but...shrug...

    The friends were announced...boisterously...”hey, chef...here’re some FANS of yours...”

    Yes, I suppose after the meal we could be considered fans, but the context was a little embarrassing. Perhaps there was the implication of sycophantism.

    Verdict: mixed

    on the one hand: undeniably outstanding and/or creative dishes

    on the other: a waitstaff one might deem a tad sketchy

    ---

    Easter Sunday, Dave and Gill took off back to Ohio, I was offered the opportunity to meet Ralph’s family in the hinterlands. Tom had to go into work. I occasionally feel awkward in social situations so it is with great affection that I describe Big David, his wife Mary, their son David the Younger, matriarch Dorothy and her beau Charles as extraordinarily warm and welcoming.

    full disclosure: Dorothy and Charles humped in a garagantuan, ambrosial ham prepared by a family friend--- Nick Noble, legendary Chicago crooner and erstwhile owner? of Lou Mitchell’s. I enjoyed an awkward, stilted conversation(I jest) with Mr. Noble when Charles dialed him up and tossed me the phone.

    I wish I could find more on the internets:

    http://www.beverlyrecords.com/celebrity.htm

    (scroll way, way down)

    Everyone’s a fan.

    But, what about Mr. Noble’s ham, you ask? One of his secrets is Dr. Pepper, a great foil for savory pork. This was a damn fine Easter celebration.

    I’m still waiting a written out recipe for Mary’s onion pudding. It was quite the spread what with all the sides and this n that. Mary even packed us up a goody bag for later including the cutest little easter baskets. I always stay in for Easter, this was a treat.

    ---

    Somehow, that blustery, stormy night we wound up with shots and beers at Mike Ditka’s.

    Over the visit we’d spied a hare on the Cardinal’s lawn, a mallard and his mate backyard of the Easter festivities. We toasted these tasty critters and others, having assumed a relative gavage of our own; stomachs burgeoning, livers groaning, thoughts of more to eat. L’Chaim. Next year in Israel. Or, rather, next morning at The Bongo Room.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #44 - April 24th, 2006, 9:11 am
    Post #44 - April 24th, 2006, 9:11 am Post #44 - April 24th, 2006, 9:11 am
    I want to thank everyone for posting their experiences in here, including Dawn for including her sister's side of the story.

    The long and short I seem to have gotten from this thread is this:

    1) The food at S&S is, for the most part, very excellent, and a good value.

    however ...

    2) The service can sometimes be off, and the kitchen timing is a bit too fast for most people.

    I would attribute addition problems to the servers - do they add up their own bills? I know I would shudder to think if I had to do that; it is easy to see how mistakes could be made. Thanks for the heads-up, though. I know I don't really look that closely at the bills unless it's a group bill and we're splitting it. I should exercise more diligence when receiving the check at the end of the meal.

    Everything being said, I am still interested in checking this place out, and I hope others will still feel the same. It's difficult to go over a thread like this and your mind sort of wavers - "Well, should I go? Will I have a bad experience?" Especially for people who don't have a lot of money to spend on eating out and want a good experience, overall.

    I still think the positives outweigh the negatives from what's I've heard. I guess I'll have to find out for myself.
  • Post #45 - April 24th, 2006, 10:43 am
    Post #45 - April 24th, 2006, 10:43 am Post #45 - April 24th, 2006, 10:43 am
    I think the positives substantially outweigh the negatives, and one incident has been given more play on the Internet than it, alone, deserved. Your odds of having a good experience for the money at S&S seem at least as high as most places, if not higher, I believe.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #46 - April 24th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Post #46 - April 24th, 2006, 10:51 am Post #46 - April 24th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Mike G wrote:I think the positives substantially outweigh the negatives, and one incident has been given more play on the Internet than it, alone, deserved. Your odds of having a good experience for the money at S&S seem at least as high as most places, if not higher, I believe.


    Over a week later and I'm still reminiscing over certain dishes(the soup, the risotto, the beef, the sticky toffee, the mignardise). Not everyone's gonna find the waitstaff as odd as I(we) did...some customers must find the act entertaining.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #47 - April 24th, 2006, 11:46 am
    Post #47 - April 24th, 2006, 11:46 am Post #47 - April 24th, 2006, 11:46 am
    GreenFish wrote:2) The service can sometimes be off, and the kitchen timing is a bit too fast for most people.

    i personally love the timing of S&S. fast and efficient. reminds me of a good Chinese restaurant w/ a burning wok. a bit: "wham, bam, thank you m'am".

    PS: i also prefer people not talk & converse talk during eating...
  • Post #48 - April 24th, 2006, 11:48 am
    Post #48 - April 24th, 2006, 11:48 am Post #48 - April 24th, 2006, 11:48 am
    Having dined at SandS this past Saturday, I can now chime in on what everyone's been talking about for so long.

    All in all, we enjoyed ourselves and thought the food was excellent. We did the tasting menu, as it was a special occasion, and are glad we did so, but I'm afraid that a first-time diner there who hasn't done any previous research might feel a bit awkward when the "head waiter" comes over and does a really hard sell of the tasting menu. Had we not already known that we wanted to do it, and that it was $60, I might have been a bit annoyed-esp. because in pushing it he didn't mention the price. Also, we never even saw a "regular" a la carte menu--which, as I said before, was fine since we already knew we wanted to do the tasting--but might be off-putting for some.

    The food was spectacular. Stars of the courses for me were the softshell crab with watermelon/tomato salad, and an excellent pork tenderloin with a bacony slaw and berry-ish plate sauce (my brain has not retained more specific definitions). Also, the chocolate cake was of the molten and squishy, barely waved in front of an oven variety which I had really thought I was over, having had so many variations on the theme at so many other restaurants, but this one was truly spectacularly chocolatey.

    A word on the waitstaff-- I think you have to go into the place with the expectations that you're going to have a social experience with them as well as with your fellow diners. Given the size of the place and the ebullient nature of the few servers, its just a given. I think it would actually feel somewhat odd to be in a room that small and not be involved with the folks around you. It feels natural to chat with the people at the table next to you and to have the waiters be a part of the experience instead of silent, faceless food delivery vehicles. If you want to go someplace where you can ignore your surroundings and focus only on your food and your dining companions with no outer forces distracting you, this aint the place.

    And, with that in mind, some might find the atmosphere intrudes on the dining experience. Its not a question of "right" and "wrong" as it is simply different tastes and different moods. I actually think it would be a great date place because it takes some of the pressure off of the two people staring at each other across a table trying to make conversation.

    One of the highlights of the evening for me was when the head waiter brought out a live softshell crab, whom I believe he had given the moniker "snappy", to show the table next to us. Its amusing to see live seafood waltzing through a dining room. At least, I found it amusing, several other patrons in the room didn't seem quite as pleased as I was.


    To summarize, we thought the food was really something worth returning for and that the prices were much more reasonable than at other restaurants where the quality of the food is similar. We will definitely return--but next time we will order off the a la carte menu as opposed to doing the tasting. My husband saw the burger go by several times and gave it a very longing look :) The atmosphere is not going to be good for every person or every occasion--but, hey, what restaurant can fulfill your every desire every single time you want to dine out? Not one that I can think of, off hand. Many people seem to want to reduce the dining experience to an objective one where some restaurants are "right" and others are "wrong"--but, thats just not the nature of the beast, IMHO.
  • Post #49 - April 27th, 2006, 8:31 am
    Post #49 - April 27th, 2006, 8:31 am Post #49 - April 27th, 2006, 8:31 am
    Maybe I should let this thread die. But instead:

    We went for the burgers on Wednesday, and had the seemingly universal experience: quasi-sublime food and irksome service.

    To keep it brief, I'll just offer one exemplary service-moment (of several):

    All four of us had the burger. The (head) waiter went around the table: "You'd like that medium rare?" And when one of us took this question non-rhetorically, and actually thought it over, and then decided on medium, he did not try to hide his look-- momentarily confused, and then a slow dawning of disappointment, and then mild disgust.

    Really pretty strange, if you think about it. As if he made commission on each "correctly" ordered entree. Or having a burger cooked medium offended his moral sensibilities, for some reason.

    Also strange, overall, because the attitude doesn't seem to be a put on-- it's not an Ed Debevicky gimmick. Why would a place that gets everything else so right choose "surly waitstaff" as a way to distinguish itself from all the other creative and excellent restaurants out there?** It certainly doesn't compliment the atmosphere, or the smartly executed food... it's just kind of strange, out of place.

    Afterwards, we had a discussion about which was preferable: an aggressive attitude-having bully or the kind of pleasant-but-spacey person who is clearly trying but just doesn't have it together. (The thought-experiment did not permit "Neither.") Three of the four of us (including me) preferred to pity the hapless waiter rather than feel harried by an aggressive one; only one of us said, "When I go out, I want my food. I don't want mix ups. I can ignore attitude." He was the one who'd ordered his burger medium.

    It struck me later that he was right, and there is some genetic mis-wiring in me that A) prevents me from rising above stuff like this, and B) preferences effort over results (I've been a teacher, and a generous grader), and C) provokes-- inappropriately!-- issues about feeling entitled-- where even good service, while nice to have, is apparently not something I've earned or really deserve, necessarily, automatically, ipso facto.

    Also, I later thought: the 75% pity-preference was probably skewed because of the sour waiter-experience we'd just had; take another survey after we're brought the wrong drinks and cold food, and I'm sure the results would be different. Maybe the Would You Rather is ultimately too contingent to have any meaning.

    [Incidentally: the burgers were wonderful, almost too rich to handle (in a good way); the fries were-- no exaggeration-- among the tastiest I've ever had.]



    ** Really, it's just one guy, the ubiquitous head waiter. Someone needs to give his band some paying work, snark snark.
  • Post #50 - April 27th, 2006, 8:38 am
    Post #50 - April 27th, 2006, 8:38 am Post #50 - April 27th, 2006, 8:38 am
    Add me to the list of people who want a smooth meal and can easily ignore any personality quirks of the service.

    daveco_hen wrote:[Incidentally: the burgers were wonderful, almost too rich to handle (in a good way); the fries were-- no exaggeration-- among the tastiest I've ever had.]


    I hardly consider a review that includes "among the tastiest I've ever had" to be an incidental statement.

    :)

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #51 - April 27th, 2006, 8:56 am
    Post #51 - April 27th, 2006, 8:56 am Post #51 - April 27th, 2006, 8:56 am
    Personally, I like Paul. He's a great server -- just a bit chatty at times. But I like that. His enthusiasm sometimes carries him away but he works at S&S's because he has a passion for fine dining and believes in chef's philsophy. He's genuine and doesn't seem to be a guy who would work just anywhere. I'll take that over a good-hearted bumbler anytime. That said, I don't think the 2 are mutually exclusive. Paul is a good-hearted guy who also takes what he does very seriously. That attitude is rare and I'm always happy to sit at one of his tables.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #52 - April 27th, 2006, 3:12 pm
    Post #52 - April 27th, 2006, 3:12 pm Post #52 - April 27th, 2006, 3:12 pm
    I have eaten there twice and I have no idea who "Paul" is but I can only assume you mean the bald headed waiter. If this is not Paul I apologize to whoever Paul is for the comments below.

    On my second visit I had the bald waiter for the second time. After my first experience there were a few things I learned that made my dinner much better.
    #1. I swear he is on commission for the chef's tasting menu and the trufle upsell. On my first visit it was not only suggested, but it was pratically forced upon us as he snatched up the menus and implied that it was the only way to go. The price was never mentioned and the trufle option was equally pushed upon us to where the four of us looked at each other and wondered what the hell just happened? "Did we just order?" was a friends comment. I understand upselling, but this was ridiculous.
    #2. Check your bill. Overcharging is almost WAY too common here.
    #3. Be assertive with what you want. He has a way at looking at you when you make a special request that makes you feel like you are offending his expert sense of food balance and that you have just completely thrown that out of whack with your ignorance.
    #4. Don't encourage his banter or you are stuck with his edgy/rude comments all dinner.

    I think he means well and this is not to bash him, but such a quaint and intimate restaurant like Sweets and Savories with such good food should have a staff that meshes with their ambiance. I think he is simply oblivious to social graces and not even aware of how socially abrassive his personality is. I think he is passionate about what he does and I believe he is really behind the restaurants concept, he is just a bad ambassador at times.....most of the time.

    The food is excellent across the board and even though this place is by no means cheap, it is a terrific value for what you get.
  • Post #53 - April 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Post #53 - April 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm Post #53 - April 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Okay, it's just clear that you have a disagreement of personalities with Sweets and Savories. Nothing wrong with that, I can think of half a dozen restaurants many people like which just rubbed me the wrong way (Spring, etc.) but I don't know what good cataloguing the perceived personal deficiencies of one individual on this site does, it seems rather unfair that a pretty good, pretty reasonable restaurant like Sweets and Savories is now coming in for a SECOND public whacking over issues which, in both cases, are very much in the eye of the beholder and in some cases exceedingly doubtful*. There's a lot of restaurants out there, I'm sure something somewhere will be more to your taste; potential visitors to the restaurant may wish to take note of some of these things, but hopefully in the context of the overall picture of the restaurant.

    * I do not believe that anyone, in any restaurant, anywhere is on commission for truffles.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #54 - April 27th, 2006, 4:03 pm
    Post #54 - April 27th, 2006, 4:03 pm Post #54 - April 27th, 2006, 4:03 pm
    We went with four friends on a special occasion, and, probably because it was a special occasion, we all agreed on the tasting menu. And partly we all agreed because I was buying and I quickly agreed to Paul's suggestion on "behalf" of all of us. And nobody regretted it overmuch. And I can't say, exactly, that it was "forced" upon us. But I can say (and did say to myself in hindsight) that I would have preferred a chance for us all to look over the menu first (it was the first time there for all of us), just to know for ourselves (rather than taking Paul's word for it) that the tasting menu was the way to go. Am I a grownup who certainly could have said "no" to Paul's blandishments, or at least "hold on"? Of course I am. Therefore, Paul is not to blame. I am, for not at least putting on the brakes. And yet he has a very forceful personality that feels like he doesn't want to take no for an answer. So even though I wouldn't complain about him, I can at least see what those who do complain about him are talking about. Maybe I/we did the right thing by listening to his advice (though advice is a mild word for it). But maybe I would have loved the meal more if I felt I owned the decision more (e.g., came to it after just a moment's contemplation rather than being swept off my feet.)
    Last edited by riddlemay on April 27th, 2006, 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #55 - April 27th, 2006, 4:12 pm
    Post #55 - April 27th, 2006, 4:12 pm Post #55 - April 27th, 2006, 4:12 pm
    Since putting together a 3-4 course a la carte menu at S&S's can come close in price to the 7-course tasting menu, I never even considered the "pushing" of the tasting menu as a hard sell. I have always viewed it as a function of the house's genuine enthusiasm for the chef's tasting menu and the reasonable urge to drive customers to the best value available in the house.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #56 - April 27th, 2006, 4:17 pm
    Post #56 - April 27th, 2006, 4:17 pm Post #56 - April 27th, 2006, 4:17 pm
    Aren't all waiters effectively on commission? They get 20% of whatever they sell you, after all. Maybe not from the restaurant, but close enough.

    If I were a waiter, I'd want to sell people the expensive tasting menus and truffle upcharges. If it raises a 4-top's check by $100, that's an extra $20 in my pocket. Now do that a few times a night, every night.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #57 - April 27th, 2006, 4:19 pm
    Post #57 - April 27th, 2006, 4:19 pm Post #57 - April 27th, 2006, 4:19 pm
    Since I always like to look at a menu before going somewhere (or even if I'm not going somewhere), and perhaps others do, Chicago MenuPages has Sweets & Savories' menu available from the restaurant's info page. (I understand the point of previous posts is not that the menu was or wasn't available online; I'm just offering it as a preemptive resource for anyone like me who hasn't been there and might go.)
    --
    Never toss pizza dough in a kitchen with a ceiling fan.
  • Post #58 - April 27th, 2006, 4:59 pm
    Post #58 - April 27th, 2006, 4:59 pm Post #58 - April 27th, 2006, 4:59 pm
    Put me in the "rubbed the wrong way by the service" and "didn't love the food" category too :)

    Server recommended the burger Medium-rare, it wasn't really presented as a choice, and I said yes. I normally get Medium, and I should have said I wanted it that way. What I got was Rare-verging-on-Raw. It was barely lukewarm inside, not juicy at all and not even beefy (which might be a characteristic of the Kobe beef?). My husband was fine with it, he prefers his burgers on the less-cooked side, I wasn't - and it's not exactly an item you can ask them to put back on the grill for a minute or two.

    When we asked for an order of frites after our burgers came, the server yelled it into the kitchen, making sure the entire dining room heard (twice) that s/he didn't forget it, we just ADDED it.

    The server was snarky with us all night, and the burgers were just not that great (I really couldn't taste much other than the truffle mayo). The frites were phenomenal, and we had a good bottle of wine that went well with the food.

    But for $100 for 2 people (incl. tax, tip, wine), I need less snark and food that's cooked better.
    Last edited by leek on April 28th, 2006, 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Leek

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  • Post #59 - April 27th, 2006, 6:52 pm
    Post #59 - April 27th, 2006, 6:52 pm Post #59 - April 27th, 2006, 6:52 pm
    I'm not sure how comfortable I am with this thread turning into a referendum on Paul. He has a big personality. Some people like this, some people don't. But I don't think we should go on and on discussing one person who works at a restaurant. Just doesn't seem cool to me.
    Last edited by jesteinf on April 27th, 2006, 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #60 - April 27th, 2006, 7:15 pm
    Post #60 - April 27th, 2006, 7:15 pm Post #60 - April 27th, 2006, 7:15 pm
    jesteinf wrote:Put I don't think we should go on and on discussing one person who works at a restaurant. Just doesn't seem cool to me.

    Josh,

    I very much agree.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow

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