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Sweets and Savories
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  • Sweets and Savories

    Post #1 - March 29th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #1 - March 29th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #1 - March 29th, 2006, 10:18 am
    I think that it's only fair to note that the management of Sweet and Savories is being treated very unfairly on Chowhound.

    A poster there, using the handle "Amy Kust" , blasted the restaurant claiming that her group was not allowed to order off the menu. But, was instead, forced to order the chef's tasting menu. Thereafter, she went into a tirade regarding the price and value equivalents at the restaurant.

    There are definitely holes in her story.

    Last night, the chef from S&S posted on Chowhound, stating that he had received an email from the complaining party and had ended up comping their entire meal due to their dissatisfaction. He also noted that, despite Amy Kust's claims, the regular menu was fully available that night and that several tables ordered off of it.

    But, then again, that's why we're here, right?

    For some reason, Chowhound elected to delete the chef's response while leaving the unfair and shortsighted criticism of his retaurant posted on that forum.

    I just thought that it was only fair for folks following that thread to know that the chef seemed to bend over backwards to make thingts right with his unhappy diners.

    That fact certainly wasn't reflected in Amy Kust's original post nor could it be discerned by the general public due to the strong armed moderating tactics on Chowhound.

    But, then again, that's why we're here, right?
  • Post #2 - March 29th, 2006, 10:28 am
    Post #2 - March 29th, 2006, 10:28 am Post #2 - March 29th, 2006, 10:28 am
    Stuff like that is one of the main reasons that I have completely left Chowhound in my past. You're right. It's one of the main reasons that LTH Forum exists....and I'm glad for that!
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - March 29th, 2006, 10:29 am
    Post #3 - March 29th, 2006, 10:29 am Post #3 - March 29th, 2006, 10:29 am
    The Chef also noted that after Amy emailed him with her complaints, he'd refunded $400 to her party's credit card. This effort to appease her was never mentioned in her post.
  • Post #4 - March 29th, 2006, 10:42 am
    Post #4 - March 29th, 2006, 10:42 am Post #4 - March 29th, 2006, 10:42 am
    stevez wrote:Stuff like that is one of the main reasons that I have completely left Chowhound in my past. You're right. It's one of the main reasons that LTH Forum exists....and I'm glad for that!


    After a long period of dismissing CH I've found myself checking in recently(more the way one rubbernecks to view a particularly gruesome traffic accident, than for any real interest).

    Funny how context and wording often reveal the biases inherent in otherwise "informative" posts ala "Amy Kust."

    It's been interesting to track the devolution of Chicago CH into a melee' of "in town...2 hours...gimme great Chicago eats!" posts.

    really...someone should graph internet foodsite trends: how these libertatia's of illiterate rant(ala bitterwaitress et al) and "gimme info now!"(chowhound) arise and, hopefully, eventually subside.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #5 - March 29th, 2006, 10:58 am
    Post #5 - March 29th, 2006, 10:58 am Post #5 - March 29th, 2006, 10:58 am
    I'm always so tempted to respond to the "looking for a great restaurant to celebrate a special occasion" requests with "I'm sorry, there are no great restaurants in Chicago, please disregard every posting on this board."

    But then I decide not to waste my time. I like the rubbernecking.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #6 - March 29th, 2006, 11:02 am
    Post #6 - March 29th, 2006, 11:02 am Post #6 - March 29th, 2006, 11:02 am
    YourPalWill wrote:I think that it's only fair to note that the management of Sweet and Savories is being treated very unfairly on Chowhound.

    A poster there, using the handle "Amy Kust" , blasted the restaurant claiming that her group was not allowed to order off the menu. But, was instead, forced to order the chef's tasting menu. Thereafter, she went into a tirade regarding the price and value equivalents at the restaurant.

    There are definitely holes in her story.

    Last night, the chef from S&S posted on Chowhound, stating that he had received an email from the complaining party and had ended up comping their entire meal due to their dissatisfaction. He also noted that, despite Amy Kust's claims, the regular menu was fully available that night and that several tables ordered off of it.

    But, then again, that's why we're here, right?

    For some reason, Chowhound elected to delete the chef's response while leaving the unfair and shortsighted criticism of his retaurant posted on that forum.

    I just thought that it was only fair for folks following that thread to know that the chef seemed to bend over backwards to make thingts right with his unhappy diners.

    That fact certainly wasn't reflected in Amy Kust's original post nor could it be discerned by the general public due to the strong armed moderating tactics on Chowhound.

    But, then again, that's why we're here, right?

    Thank you very much for pointing this out. I too noticed the chef's response and then the subsequent removal of that response by Chowhound, which I think is disgraceful. Regardless, I think Sweets & Savories is an excellent restaurant.

    I don't know what to believe regarding issues that "Amy" had at the restaurant, but I would bet that every single restaurant in Chicago has, at least on one occasion, offended a diner or had an off evening. Nobody's perfect and although I certainly believe that an "off night" could justify the decision to not return to a restaurant, I do not think that it gives anyone the right to embark on a mission to destroy a restaurant's reputation. But the great thing about this forum is that it gives real diners the chance to learn about new restaurant and to compare experiences at others, without fears of having "big brother" remove all posts leaning in one direction. Having had the opportunity to have read the chef's post however, I also note that he offered a credit that would exceed the cost of a dinner for four. But you'd never know that piece of information if you read only the current string of posts on Chowhound.

    All that being said, Sweets & Savories is a Great Neighborhood Restaurant!
  • Post #7 - March 29th, 2006, 11:08 am
    Post #7 - March 29th, 2006, 11:08 am Post #7 - March 29th, 2006, 11:08 am
    Ms.Paris wrote:The Chef also noted that after Amy emailed him with her complaints, he'd refunded $400 to her party's credit card. This effort to appease her was never mentioned in her post.


    Wow, I am really shocked that they would delete that information while letting her post stand. I thought her post was obviously biased but was quite convinced by accounts of service problems in the post of her dining companion. Not that such would keep me from going there but it sounded factual.

    I've always thought their deletion policies were silly but this is really ridiculous. I'm done with that board, starting now.
  • Post #8 - March 29th, 2006, 11:18 am
    Post #8 - March 29th, 2006, 11:18 am Post #8 - March 29th, 2006, 11:18 am
    I'm sure you've all seen that Chowhound was ranked as one of the top websites in the Chicago Tribune awhile back. The archaic formatting and inability to effectively search posts should have disqualified it from that honor, even if you could tolerate the gazillion "In town for 2 days, where's the best place it eat?" posts.
  • Post #9 - March 29th, 2006, 11:24 am
    Post #9 - March 29th, 2006, 11:24 am Post #9 - March 29th, 2006, 11:24 am
    perhaps this falls under the category of idle conjecture:

    it's long been my opinion that CH exists solely as a medium for JL to exercise "control issues." Think of it: what a great therapeutical mode;
    your own intellectual fiefdom where one wields sole power of edit under the guise of social contribution.

    some people write fan fiction...some host websites
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #10 - March 29th, 2006, 11:26 am
    Post #10 - March 29th, 2006, 11:26 am Post #10 - March 29th, 2006, 11:26 am
    I've always felt it was a pretty good resource for dining out while traveling in the USA, despite the format. (I'm judging by places in the US I've been to and comparing to other sources of information about them.)

    This incident really blows me away. I've always known there were apt to be unreasonable reviews, there or on any board, but while I was aware of the moderation being overboard at times, I can't believe they would stick it to a restaurant owner in that way.
  • Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 11:32 am
    Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 11:32 am Post #11 - March 29th, 2006, 11:32 am
    What I thought was interesting about that infamous S&S bashing post is that there really is no way of identifying that poster. I have seen posts that appear both on Chowhounds and on this board, and I tend to "believe" those posters. The fact that Chowhounds' posting system is anonymous allows people to just write whatever they want without much basis... That post just seemed shady to me...

    If that poster posted that same post here on this board, I would be more likely to give her the benefit of doubt. Especially since she will need to provide more personal information than a made-up user name.

    I am not sure why that post affected me the way it did...
  • Post #12 - March 29th, 2006, 11:39 am
    Post #12 - March 29th, 2006, 11:39 am Post #12 - March 29th, 2006, 11:39 am
    All's well that ends well: my proverbial Chowhound straw came with the deletion of a handful of posts highlighting Michelle Fire's then Big Chicks/Tweet liquor license difficulties. Jim Leff saw to it that the three or so of us posting cool-headed and food-oriented announcements(ala BC's community-building buffets...etc.) had our notices deleted as "too political." Nevermind that BC/Tweet/Michelle Fire were/are neighborhood institutions. Like, he would know.

    At the time it seemed this neighborhood institution might close. Things turned out differently. No thanks to Leff.

    As for "too political" I have no connection with the bar/restaurant. I merely saw a local joint(and alternative---at the time---to Boystown pabulum) run by friendly people being attacked and an attempt being made at it's eradication. So, I spoke up. As I recall...no one on the Chicago board saw anything amiss...only Jim Leff and his punitive finger pressing Delete.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #13 - March 29th, 2006, 11:40 am
    Post #13 - March 29th, 2006, 11:40 am Post #13 - March 29th, 2006, 11:40 am
    I didn't think the post was that suspicious, just not very informative and the poster's bias was showing. You get posts like that almost everywhere. If I'd been the first person coming along, I would have just asked for more information and then disregarded the whole thing if none was forthcoming. I thought her friend who chimed in was much more convincing. For what it's worth, my take was that they probably had a few weak links in the service department. Not that serious, but I believed there was some kind of poor communication on the restaurant's part that was good for people to know about-- probably, a server who misspoke. I would really have liked to hear (read) the chef's response explaining what happened. But above all, information about the refund should not have been deleted.
  • Post #14 - March 29th, 2006, 12:44 pm
    Post #14 - March 29th, 2006, 12:44 pm Post #14 - March 29th, 2006, 12:44 pm
    The friend's description of the off-pace service, especially the part where the servers whisked food away too quickly was similar to my experience at Sweet and Savories. Unlike the CH poster, I would definitely go back. The food was great, the price was non-exorbitant, and the staff was friendly.[/quote]
  • Post #15 - March 29th, 2006, 1:16 pm
    Post #15 - March 29th, 2006, 1:16 pm Post #15 - March 29th, 2006, 1:16 pm
    HI,

    When it comes to food being whisked away too fast, why doesn't anyone speak up? Being a clean plate club person, when I see some asparagus risotto left on the plate whose taste I still cannot get over. I am waiting to see if anyone else wants the portion. When the waiter whips in to grab, I stop them explaining there is still some left to be enjoyed. If everyone else looks at me like I am crazy, then I can finally claim the last bit. In fact I did this several times at Sweets and Savories when we were there for the GNR presentation a few weeks ago.

    I don't left wait staff in general takes plates away before I have decided they are finished.

    BTW - I also almost never let the waiters pack my food to take home. I do it myself. A friend used to work at a restaurant. She advised no matter how much food was left over, they always used the smallest container. Whatever food did not fit, they threw away.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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  • Post #16 - March 29th, 2006, 3:52 pm
    Post #16 - March 29th, 2006, 3:52 pm Post #16 - March 29th, 2006, 3:52 pm
    I agree with the sentiments that CH moderation is excessive.

    That said, I am going to play Devil's Advocate.

    Just as one cannot identify who "Amy Kust" is, as one can post with any name, and any email address, at any time.... can we conclude with absolute certainty that the S&S "chef" posting was really the chef?

    If an email address was provided, did anyone check it out before the post was deleted?

    Just wanted to raise the possibility that the S&S chef was a false poster, and somehow JL caught onto it, and that's why it was deleted.
    Marno
  • Post #17 - March 29th, 2006, 3:55 pm
    Post #17 - March 29th, 2006, 3:55 pm Post #17 - March 29th, 2006, 3:55 pm
    I suppose that's theoretically possible, Marno.

    Now I see that they've removed all the posts relating to a request to the original posters to fess up that they'd been taken care of by the restaurant (and that some of the complaints may not have been accurate).

    There really is no way for Sweets & Savories to defend themselves, and nothing to prevent anyone from telling any story they want there about a restaurant.
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  • Post #18 - March 29th, 2006, 4:01 pm
    Post #18 - March 29th, 2006, 4:01 pm Post #18 - March 29th, 2006, 4:01 pm
    Just wanted to raise the possibility that the S&S chef was a false poster, and somehow JL caught onto it, and that's why it was deleted.


    I can say with 99.99% certainty that it was indeed Chef David posting last night. I can say this because I emailed Sweets & Savories directly (info@...) last night to tell them to "keep up the good work" - and got a response from the Chef thanking me and telling me basically what he had written/what had been deleted from the CH boards.

    I was truly apalled that posters on the CH boards were accusing those who defended S&S of being shills, while jumping on the attack bandwagon - even though they'd never eaten there.
  • Post #19 - March 29th, 2006, 4:17 pm
    Post #19 - March 29th, 2006, 4:17 pm Post #19 - March 29th, 2006, 4:17 pm
    FYI - 'Amy Kust' either real or an alias did post an email address.

    Did anyone send an email to her?
    "Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be Happy"
    -Ben Franklin-
  • Post #20 - March 29th, 2006, 4:27 pm
    Post #20 - March 29th, 2006, 4:27 pm Post #20 - March 29th, 2006, 4:27 pm
    How unfortunate. The posts asking Amy to clarify if her bill was comped are now being deleted there.

    For the record, I've never eaten at S&S. I just find it unfortunate that Chowhound refused to give the chef the right to note that he comped the meal while leaving a scathing, and minimally, somewhat untruthful post from Amy Kust on that board.

    I don't understand why Leff would have such disdain for a restaurant in Chicago that he can't put his Napoleonic ego aside to allow the facts of the matter to be heard.

    I've always supported Chowhound and found it a valuable tool when traveling. Perhaps, I've given Leff too much credit.
  • Post #21 - March 29th, 2006, 4:34 pm
    Post #21 - March 29th, 2006, 4:34 pm Post #21 - March 29th, 2006, 4:34 pm
    Now I see that they've removed all the posts relating to a request to the original posters to fess up that they'd been taken care of. . .


    Perhaps CH should remove the entire thread. Looked at with the best of interpretations, the OP's critique was based on a miscommunication, as confirmed by the OP's friend, and was one, in fact, that had more to do with S&S's presumed upselling/bait-and-switching than with the quality of the food and the experience itself. With accusations of shilling and anti-shilling now bandying back and forth and with the reputation of a restaurant in play, it would seem to make sense to make the entire thing disappear. One can only imagine the stunned response our representative "in-town-for-two-days" diner might have when he/she innocently searches the site and stumbles across the carnage. Certainly not a reservation to S&S.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)
  • Post #22 - March 29th, 2006, 5:00 pm
    Post #22 - March 29th, 2006, 5:00 pm Post #22 - March 29th, 2006, 5:00 pm
    That thread was there for a while with a bunch of nasty-ish posts from what looked like a PR person, completely slamming the original poster. All sorts of different names that looked like throwaway nametags, all with the same tone. I actually felt bad for the original poster who was really getting slammed... even though her story seemed incomplete I didn't think the nasty posts were warranted. Anonymous posting really sucks- people should have to be accountable for what they write- on both ends of the spectrum.
  • Post #23 - March 29th, 2006, 5:09 pm
    Post #23 - March 29th, 2006, 5:09 pm Post #23 - March 29th, 2006, 5:09 pm
    Yeah, I wasn't very impressed with the way some people responded and I would not be too surprised if the OPs do not reply. It's not their fault that the chef's response was deleted.

    I have not been to S&S but I will make a point of it, especially if they are opening a branch in Wilmette. That would be so cool as I have family members there. I would go to the original one but it's hard to get my SO to budge outside a certain radius, poor guy works a graveyard shift and he likes a quiet evening when he's home. He would love their food, though.
  • Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 2:01 pm
    Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 2:01 pm Post #24 - March 30th, 2006, 2:01 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:HI,

    When it comes to food being whisked away too fast, why doesn't anyone speak up? Being a clean plate club person, when I see some asparagus risotto left on the plate whose taste I still cannot get over. I am waiting to see if anyone else wants the portion. When the waiter whips in to grab, I stop them explaining there is still some left to be enjoyed. If everyone else looks at me like I am crazy, then I can finally claim the last bit. In fact I did this several times at Sweets and Savories when we were there for the GNR presentation a few weeks ago.

    I don't left wait staff in general takes plates away before I have decided they are finished.



    The pace of a meal is determined by multiple factors, most of which are out of the diner's control. I can't imagine not protesting if a waiter tries to take my plate away before I'm done. But how do you protest a waiter taking away a plate that I've just finished, and then immediately bringing the next course? You can't tell them to take it back to the kitchen for 5 minutes... I just like a little breathing room between courses. It gives me a chance to enjoy each course fully instead of plunging headlong into the next. OTOH, a meal can go too slowly as well. It's a fine line, but my Sweets and Savories experience was definitely on the too fast side of that line.
  • Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 3:20 pm Post #25 - March 30th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Call me crazy, but whenever I feel a meal is going to fast, I just tell my waiter to slow it down. If you nip it in the bud early in the meal, it gives the kitchen a chance to adjust. If it really gets out of hand, when your waiter tries to clear your plates, just say you're not done yet.

    I've had to slow them down at Sweets and Savories. I've had to do it at mk as well. It happens, but you can take at least a bit of control.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #26 - March 30th, 2006, 4:45 pm
    Post #26 - March 30th, 2006, 4:45 pm Post #26 - March 30th, 2006, 4:45 pm
    I participate in perhaps five message boards mostly non-food related.

    One trend that I don't like are the people who will join a board, post a couple of flame messages about a business and never participate further.

    I read the original message a few days back and I must admit that my reaction was "why did you stay for dinner when you did not want to spend that much?" It was the typical "tempest-in-a-teapot" post. The food comments were pretty minimal.

    I believe that a restauranteur should be able to defend against unfair criticism. Generally, if they don't post a meaningful comment, they generally look pretty bad.
  • Post #27 - March 30th, 2006, 7:17 pm
    Post #27 - March 30th, 2006, 7:17 pm Post #27 - March 30th, 2006, 7:17 pm
    jlawrence01 wrote:I believe that a restauranteur should be able to defend against unfair criticism.


    Doesn't Chowhound have a blanket policy "no business owners posting allowed here"? Though I think they call it "no shills" or some such, it seems to be enforced rigidly and without thoughtfulness about the few times it might make sense to allow a person with an interest in a business to post about it.
    Leek

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  • Post #28 - March 30th, 2006, 8:31 pm
    Post #28 - March 30th, 2006, 8:31 pm Post #28 - March 30th, 2006, 8:31 pm
    leek wrote:
    jlawrence01 wrote:I believe that a restauranteur should be able to defend against unfair criticism.


    Doesn't Chowhound have a blanket policy "no business owners posting allowed here"? Though I think they call it "no shills" or some such, it seems to be enforced rigidly and without thoughtfulness about the few times it might make sense to allow a person with an interest in a business to post about it.


    Here is Leff in his own words, with a fairly clear and concise expression of Chowhound policy as it regards this issue:

    "We're not aiming for a balanced dialog between industry and consumers. Chefs and restaurateurs have any number of ways to broadcast their messages about their own places (advertisements, press, marketing, in-restaurant). We're strictly a consumer resource, one of the very few places where consumers get their say. And I absolutely defend their right to be wrong."

    And...

    "We reserve the right to delete anything at anytime without notice or explanation."

    Link.

    E.M.
  • Post #29 - March 31st, 2006, 8:16 am
    Post #29 - March 31st, 2006, 8:16 am Post #29 - March 31st, 2006, 8:16 am
    The pace of a meal is determined by multiple factors, most of which are out of the diner's control. I can't imagine not protesting if a waiter tries to take my plate away before I'm done. But how do you protest a waiter taking away a plate that I've just finished, and then immediately bringing the next course? You can't tell them to take it back to the kitchen for 5 minutes... I just like a little breathing room between courses. It gives me a chance to enjoy each course fully instead of plunging headlong into the next. OTOH, a meal can go too slowly as well. It's a fine line, but my Sweets and Savories experience was definitely on the too fast side of that line.


    Not exactly true. A good friend of mine was being rushed (at Hugo's Frog Bar in N'ville as it happens) and she sent back her main course twice. They did bring her fresh meals each time, and asked if she was ready before bringing the third plate. Is that a pleasant way to dine? No, she was aggravated, and is unlikey to go back. Did she aggravate the wait and kitchen staff? Certainly.

    But one does have the ability to control the flow of the meal, and the wait staff is supposed to gauge the rate of your progress and convey that to the kitchen. Sure, it does not always work and when that kind of conflict occurs, it detracts from the meal. But you can control it.

    I would agree that S&S does not have the smoothest, most professional service based on my single visit. But let's be realistic here - they provide a quality of food at a price point where it is clear the energy and expense is being put primarily into the food. If you want better service you are going to need to pay for it. What is on the plate is darned good, and the service is "charmingly idiosyncratic" at that price. Double the price, and it might be annoyingly unprofessional.

    As to CH, I imagine it will soon have new, better software under the aegis of CNet. As to the Big Dog's moderation policies - they are what he says they are. As he has said to more than one of us - "if you don't like it, don't post here," and we don't. But he is upfront about what he does, even if I disagree with some of his ideas on running a forum.

    My experiences with the advice there when traveling has differed from those noted above. I find the advice pretty unreliable, because you have to vet the posters which is awfully hard. The advice I get here has generally been much more reliable. Just my experience, though, and CH will always have a special spot in my heart cause it got me started with all this, introducing me to a bunch of wonderful folks, and generally eating much better.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #30 - April 9th, 2006, 6:42 pm
    Post #30 - April 9th, 2006, 6:42 pm Post #30 - April 9th, 2006, 6:42 pm
    before I tell the story of my meal at Sweets and Savories last night, I want to state clearly that the food was excellent, my guests who were in from out of town celebrating their first anniversary had a wonderful time, and I will certainly be going back for a third visit at some point.

    However, yes, the pace was a little rushed (we had the tasting menu and were in and out in under two hours), one of the servers recognized my girlfriend and I from Moto and then we had a little talk about how my girlfrined had gotten a little tipsy and ill at Moto and how many ladies that week "puked" because of the heavilly poured wine pairing (which wasn't really a topic I would want to discuss at the beginning of a meal, and I'm pretty sure that my girlfriend wanted to put that episode behind her.)

    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.

    Again, no real "complaints" per se, but it was a pretty different experience compared to when I went for the first time in the fall.

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