It is with regret that I must say we’ve taken our last trip to The Cellar. We’ve been a customer of theirs for several years now, but we’ve decided that they are just too hit or miss to justify paying the prices that they charge. Although we’ve had a few very good meals with good service, we’ve had more bad than good. The most recent visit using a Groupon voucher was the clincher. We’ve used a Groupon once before at this restaurant and we had the impression that the staff frowns upon customers coming in with a Groupon voucher. The first time we chalked it up to the possibility that Groupon may have been new to them and maybe they were not happy with the deal that they made with Groupon. When another Groupon came up a year or 2 later, we thought we would give it another try.
This latest Groupon was for a tasting/wine pairing meal for 2. When we called for a reservation and mentioned Groupon, as requested, we were told there wasn’t a reservation available. When we informed them that OpenTable showed availability, they claimed it must not be up to date but we could go ahead and book through OpenTable if we wanted. We did and when we showed up for dinner we were greeted warmly and seated and the waiter immediately came to see if we would like a cocktail or other drink. We informed the waiter of the Groupon voucher and he gave us a rather smug look and said he would be back with the tasting menu. He took a very long time to return and then informed us that we could upgrade the wine tasting amount from 2 oz. each to 5 oz. each for $15 per person. We agreed to do this and ordered a soufflé in advance for dessert (not included in tasting menu). The waiter paid hardly any attention to us during the rest of the dinner, the only time he came to our table was to deliver the wine in bulk. The pairing meal was a joke compared to other restaurants that we’ve had this kind of meal at. The waiter brought out a glass of champagne and a glass of chardonnay and said gruffly these are for the first two courses. There was no explanation of what kind of champagne or chardonnay we were drinking. When he did the same thing with the next two wines, I asked him what we were drinking and he said unbelievably “Gallo” wine. No wonder they didn’t want to say what they were serving! The food portions were very small, we expected small due to the tasting nature of the meal, but these were much smaller than portions we’ve been served at other restaurants under these circumstances. And, the food was just OK, nothing special.
By contrast we received very good service and had very good food when our entire family ate at this restaurant for Thanksgiving. And, we’ve had several good meals when we’ve dined there on other occasions with the exception of a time we brought our friends to dinner and the food was barely lukewarm. But there attitude has defiantly made me recess how I feel about eating there.
I believe that you are treated with contempt when you show up here with a Groupon voucher. I know that many waiters feel that they are going to get cheated out of a tip when a customer has a Groupon, but we always tip on the value amount, not the Groupon amount. We spent $55 on the Groupon, but because of the wine quantity upgrade and the dessert we spent an additional $36.65 and the waiter received a $22.00 tip that he really didn’t deserve for the poor service we received. I do not understand why restaurants sign up for Groupon deals if they are going to feel this way about the customers that use them.
Anyway, because the scale of good vs. bad has tipped to bad, we won’t be back here. There are just way too many other options in southern California for fine dining.
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