We've been going to the Chowder House quarterly for over a year and a half. The atmoshere is different -- eclectic might be the good word, and the food is pretty good. It's a little on the expensive side, but there is one bonafide benefit -- you can bring in beer or wine. The first time we went, the waitress even said, "There's a packing store behind the restaurant where you can buy wine." We went and bought a bottle. So, sometimes we'd bring in a bottle, sometimes we do not. We used a "groupon" coupon whenever we went, which makes it affordable. On our visit for lunch on Martin Luther King Day, we were charged a $10.00 corking fee for bringing in a bottle of wine. This was the first time we were ever charged for bringing in booze. We asked our waitress about it. She told us that they've been charging it for the last three years, ever since it had opened. She was curt and abrupt and dismissed our attempted response that we had never been charged before. She said the law requires the charge. So, we didn't leave a tip as I know we've never paid such a fee over the previous six visits. We had one more coupon to use, so we went on February 13. We did not take our wine. The service was exceptionally slow that evening. We scoured the menu for something about this charge. There was nothing. We watched another table that bought in wine and wanted to know if they were charged. We figured the older lady that waited on us on Monday was related to the owner and other waitresses didn't want to lose the gratuity, so they wouldn't add the charge to the bill. I'm not upset by the charge -- well, I am -- as much as I was by the amount and the way it was handled. The charge is more than the wine! Then, I find out there is a beer charge of $5.00. I guess this is a bottle opening fee. Anyway, we didn't tip the waitress on February 13 either. So, we recouped the ten dollar corking fee to the dismay of at least one disgruntled employee and possibly another -- though I believe the latter had some vested interest in the dollars the restaurant bought in. Bottom line: if there is going to be a charge for a service, publish it somewhere. Additionally, insure everyone in the establishment uniformly applies the charge to all who uses the service. Anyway, the reasons we went to the Chowder House was because we could bring wine at no cost and use the groupon that saved us $10.00. I think we're done here. There is simply too many other eating establishments in the area that meet our expectations moreso than this one now does.
If you own or manage Chowder House Cafe, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.