I don’t like writing negative reviews at all. It’s not always fair, because I might have been there on an off night. From time to time, though, certain things need to be said. I spent several days in Halifax, and I have been fortunate enough to experience many different restaurants all over the world. And now I will tell you why our meal at The Bicycle Thief was a serious mistake. You can and should do much better, and you can easily avoid wasting your time, your patience, and your money.
We asked for a table without a reservation, noting that we could show up within just a few minutes. They had a table waiting for us, which was great. The problem was that the restaurant was not particularly busy, and the table was isolated and directly under an air vent. So we knew immediately what they really thought of us.
The server was generally courteous and made an effort, but when other parties started to fill up his section, we felt somewhat ignored as he went back and forth ignoring us until we could flag him down.
On balance, the cuisine was not so bad. But it certainly wasn’t good. I admit having high standards, having lived, studied, and worked in Rome and Florence. The highlights were the cocktails and the main courses, which were more than reasonable and would have made for a decent experience were it not for the astonishingly disrespectful and poor service we received.
The musical selection was something like Motown’s greatest hits. Don’t get me wrong: I love some nice Motown grooves from time to time. But did it fit the atmosphere or help to enhance the ambiance, though? Not so much, my friends. Not so much.
Now for the incident where The Bicycle Thief showed its true colors, revealing the supreme disappointment of the evening. One of the dishes we ordered contained an ingredient that was not listed on the menu and that the person who ordered it could not eat because of a dairy allergy. The parmesan cheese might normally be a welcome addition, but I am much more used to servers asking customers if they would like parmesan, much like pepper, added to the dish if not specifically listed – here, the parmesan was added without request, and no pepper was offered at all. We asked for a separate dish with “any” pasta, a small amount of plain Marinara sauce, and nothing extra, the sort of thing most with hardly any cooking experience can make for about 50 cents, retail. You would think they would have something like that ready to go. It took at least ten minutes to bring it out, in a portion size that was obviously too large. The true affront came with the check: they had the balls to charge an extra $7.00 for a repair dish that was to add to something we did not order. The first thought to cross my mind was, “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!!!” But yes, they did. To make a baseball analogy, that was a charge-the-moundable slap in the face.
As the evening wore on, and the experience deteriorated, it became obvious that we would not be coming back to The Bicycle Thief, nor would they ever wish to see us again.
Lastly, there are better, less expensive, more pleasant restaurants with better service all over Halifax. This place gets good reviews, and it takes itself very seriously. It thinks it’s a brilliant centerpiece of the local scene. Trust me – it ain’t.
If anything good comes of this review, I hope that The Bicycle Thief will treat its customers without naked contempt in the near future. Everywhere has room to improve; The Bicycle Thief has more room than most.
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