I have a standing dinner date with a friend every Monday night, so I was thinking about having a new thing at Metblogs where we cover a different restaurant in downtown San Jose every week. We already have many favorites downtown and thought it would be a great way to let more people know about them.
Unfortunately, last night did not go as expected.
We chose San Jose’s beloved Gordon Biersch last night because my friend was dying for their French fries. Gordon Biersch serves delicious fries which you can order standard or garlicky. They are always delicious!
When our server took our order, my friend asked for a chicken sandwich and fries, and requested extra French fries. We told her we had come specifically for the fries that night, and that my friend would rather have more fries and less sandwich, if anything. She also asked for a side salad with oil and vinegar, and I ordered my favorite dish, the Cedar Plank Pecan Crusted Salmon.
The first problem arose when the salad was served with no dressing at all. A different server had brought the salad, and when we pointed out there was no dressing she quickly brought the oil and vinegar bottles over. No big deal.
The second problem arose when our dinner was served and my friend received her chicken sandwich not with extra fries, but with what looked like less fries than usual. The waitress apologized and said she had requested extra fries, but that was all she was given.
The third problem arose after the waitress left and I looked down at my own plate. My salmon was still sitting on the cedar plank; usually it is removed at serving, but no biggie. I took the piece of wood off the plate but then stared at my salmon… something was missing. It had a pile of pecans on top as usual but there was no dill cream sauce!! We flagged another server down and pointed it out. She again apologized and offered to have the chef put the sauce on or just bring me out some sauce on the side. Same result so I didn’t care; she brought me a little tin of sauce.
Before we go to problem four, let me state that Gordon Biersch’s Cedar Plank Pecan Crusted Salmon is one of my very favorite dishes in the whole world, and I rarely order anything else at GB because I can’t stand to go to GB and NOT get it. I know the dish, I know it’s delicious (heaven, usually), and every other time I’ve ordered it has been perfection.
But not this time. I put the sauce on the fish and tried to cut into it with my fork. And I mean TRIED. This piece of salmon was so overcooked and dried out it was almost inedible. I could tap my fork on top of it and it was just solid salmon crust. I would expect better salmon served at Denny’s.
But I wasn’t at Denny’s, I was at Gordon Biersch and had ordered a dish that cost almost $21. If this was the first time I had ordered this dish I never would have ordered it again. Under normal circumstances I would have sent the dish back, but we are on a tight schedule for our Monday dinners so it just wasn’t an option at that point.
I’m not being sarcastic when I say the sweet ginger rice was delicious, and my friend loved her chicken sandwich and fries. She was just disappointed that there were not a few more fries. And it’s not like we expected GB to serve her bottomless fries for no charge, but do potatoes really cost so much that they couldn’t throw a few extra on the plate for a happy customer?
Any ONE of these problems would have been silly to complain about (well, except for the overcooked salmon). Any TWO of them could have been overlooked. But when you have FOUR issues with dinner, and one of them results in a very sad $21 meal, it’s just not right.
To be fair, I can’t remember another time when we have had a bad experience at Gordon Biersch, and we chose it last night because it is one of our favorite restaurants to go to downtown. Metblogs has been chided before for putting up bad reviews of restaurants that are normally fantastic, but is it right to let this go? Gordon Biersch is not a cheap restaurant, and if we’re going to have a $50 tab we shouldn’t have to ask for each specific ingredient to be included on our plates, and no one should be served a dried up piece of $21 salmon at any time. It was my prerogative to send or not send the fish back, but it is my right as a paying customer to not have been served an obviously unacceptable piece of fish in the first place.
And seriously, how much do potatoes cost? She couldn’t have been given just a couple extra?
An unhappy customer is an unhappy customer, and restaurants should strive to make every customer happy, not just customers with the power of the review pen. Because every customer has access to Yelp reviews. So I stand by our right to post the honest review of our experience last night. I expected to be writing a great one this morning, but one bad dinner changed everything.
Recommendation: Normally it’s priced a bit on the high side but the food is delicious and the service is always friendly and quick. The beer of course is outstanding. But based on last night’s dinner: 2 stars out of 5.