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“Terrific Food; Exceptionally Poor Service”
Review of Dry Creek Kitchen

Dry Creek Kitchen
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Ranked #12 of 99 Restaurants in Healdsburg
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $15 - $80
Cuisines: French, Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Special occasions, Local cuisine
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Matheson Street
Reviewed August 28, 2006

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.

8  Thank William C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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792 - 796 of 808 reviews

Reviewed October 24, 2005

Having read other reviews after returning from Sonoma I am confused as to the negative reviews that I've seen for C. Palmer's establishment.
As for our experience, the 6 course sampler was absolutely fantastic as was my companions Entree. Everything was prepared to perfection and served with the proper amount of spacing between courses. The service was excellent and attentive and the resident sommelier turned us onto a fantastic, yet hard to find Pinot which was very reasonably priced.

Last but not least the food prices were quite reasonable as well.

All in all, I would highly recommend and look forward to visiting again.

4  Thank johnni37
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 5, 2005

We saw flashes of brilliance mixed with amateur mistakes here. We tried the tasting menu and although my husband’s quail dish was nicely done mine was raw. The server said sorry but offered no repair. The scallop with tomato paste was wonderful as was the watermelon sorbet with tomato gazpacho. However, the food over matched many of the wines paired with it. Finally, it may be petty but if you list a black velvet on the bar menu you should be aware that nitrogenated stout is used for a reason. If you use a nitrogenated beer like Guinness, the cocktail layers don’t mix thus making for a nice presentation. Running across the way to get the local carbonated beer is cute but doesn’t achieve the correct effect.

4  Thank EatSantaBarbarian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2005

The restaurant was ok but not up to Charlie Palmer standards. Service was excellent but the food was just ordinary (except for the seared fois gras, which was excellent). My partner's vegetarian entree, although made with fresh ingredients, had no taste. My chicken was just ok. One great perk - you can bring any bottle of Sonoma county wine with no corkage fee =)

Would not go back as there are many other great restaurants in the area.

1  Thank ejsnyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2005

I dined at the Dry Creek Kitchen in early March 2005. Because of the barrel wine tasting festival, all the restaurants were packed, but we managed to grab a table at the Dry Creek Kitchen bar and ordered dinner from the bar. It was obvious pretty early in the meal that our waitress was either new or simply unaccustomed to dealing with diners at the bar. She made mistake after mistake. However, after bring our displeasure to the attention of the another waiter, the management bent over backwards to remedy the situation. They not only took my entree off the bill, but the waitress came over and apologized and told us that our desserts were on the house. And then before the desserts came out, they brought us two (free!) glasses of dessert wine. It's gratifying to dine at a restaurant that values customer service enough to make sure that their diners leave happy!

3  Thank CATravelMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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