I'm a local H'burger who dines out frequently with family & friends. When Charlie Palmer first opened DCK, it was our town's first celebrity chef restaurant and definitely raised the bar on cuisine and style. We patronized it every other month or so, hoping that the service would eventually match the terrific food. Since having been 'discovered' now for about 6 years, both new and existing Healdsburg resaurants have flourished and the number of excellent choices for foodies is now abundant. Given such choices, I hadn't been to DCK for about a year so I thought I'd give it another chance, to see if its very obvious service flaws had been fixed. Unfortunately, this meal convinced me the fancy food isn't worth it, especially if you're going to be served by amateurs.
While chef Palmer's cuisine is extraordinarily inventive and flavorful, the service component of DCK remains an utter disappointment. The sole reason I have consciously chosen not to eat at DCK for the past year is I have felt that the amateur service and outright indifference from many of the staff do not warrant continued patronage, especially for the prices charged. During a recent dinner in summer 2006, the following only exacerbated my already negative feelings about DCK:
• A request for a diet coke never was served yet we were charged.
• All evening long our water glasses remained unfilled requiring multiple requests by us to fill them.
• The duck course, as part of the tasting menu, was served extremely cold. No one knew how hot it should have been when asked about it.
• Our wine glasses remained continually unchecked, with our bottles just out of reach on the counter behind us. Repeatedly, we had to ask for the glasses to be filled, with long waits before it happened. We were tempted to just grab them and leave them on our table.
• The sommelier was not as attentive as we had previously been accustomed to, waiting until after our two own bottles had been consumed before coming to the table to pitch us his recommendations.
While we weren’t entirely ignored, nor were we treated intentionally poorly, the obvious lack of care and service that one would expect at such an establishment once again tainted my opinion of DCK. As individuals, the staff are genuinely pleasant and helpful. You get the sense they are trying, but lack to oversight and rhythm that a honed organization would exhibit. The net effect is that when working together, it’s simply a dysfunctional dining tragedy.
For the foreseeable future, I have now written off further dining at DCK, preferring instead the numerous other fine choices. With prices as they are, I can not recommend DCK to others, until a major overhaul has brought it back in line with fine dining service expectations. Given its prominence in Healdsburg, I truly look forward to some serious changes that will allow me and friends to appreciate the restaurant once again. Unfortunately, however, a similar letter as this review sent personally to Mr. Palmer remains unanswered. That is not a good omen of pending improvement.
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