As a 14 year part time resident of the Lake Arrowhead area, I'm familiar with the local eateries, including Bin 189. It's tucked into the Lake Arrowhead Resort, with ersatz mountain decor, and a nice lake view. I enjoy going there on special occasions, and with out of town friends; the hotel setting provides a little something extra.
One can expect average, or better, meals. Today we experienced less than average service. It has happened before on a Saturday evening, when the kitchen and bar must be overwhelmed by the rumbling wedding reception in the ballroom next door.
Poor service is often attributable to the restaurant managment and kitchen rather than the server. Tonight both are to blame for a disappointing evening with friends from out of town and from abroad. I won't blame the waiter for a slow kitchen or an overworked bartender, but shouldn't the waiter notice that he is serving the first course, after a long wait, before he served the cocktails? And to a matter fact notification that the patron could not use the cocktail if served after soup, the waiter testily replied, "I'm sorry, but I'm not able to make cocktails; the bartender has to do that." I wasn't an unhappy patron until the waiter turned on me for pointing out the problem. Fortunately, he agreed not to serve the cocktail, and took my order for a nice sauvignon blanc to pair with my soup and pasta.
The comedy continued: The waiter didn't remember to announce the specials until he had already took orders from half the table. After a long wait and some vague mumbling about dessert with the busboy, one of us found the waiter and paid the bill. I never saw the waiter, never heard anything about dessert or coffee (I really wanted some bread pudding, guys).
We really were an easy going group, and did nothing to scare away the waiter, who was tipped normally in spite everything. Was he incompetent, or did he just have a bad day, or did the management make it impossible for him to keep up? Dare we return and hope for a better time.
As a postscript, good restaurants fix problems like late serving and order errors by comping a dish or drink or dessert, and sending a manager over to say nice things. When that happens, I forgive and forget, and look forward to a return visit.
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