After a great experience this past summer at the Black Cat, I wondered why I gave a five and so many others were disappointed. Well, i found out on our post Christmas visit yesterday. Same nice atmosphere, lots of fresh organic veggies in a great appetizer, crispy big house salad, an excellent chicken dish, a tasty pork sausage dish, and a magnificent stuffed quail. So where's the beef? It was flying out to the other tables while we waited and waited and waited. Our first welcome, a tasty puff pastry from the chef, flew out moments after the smiling waiter took our wine order. In a flash, it was decanted and poured. A full red bordeaux that I noticed was about 25% pricer than I paid for the same wine less than a week prior in 4 Star Chicago restaurant. But, it was Christmas and the family was together! After a 15 minute delay caused by my son's run to the pharmacy for his daughter's headache medicine, we waited another 15 minutes for the first serving. The vegetable souffle was the hit for that round. The plates were promptly cleared, we sipped wine and chatted...and chatted...and chatted. The little kids moved to their parents' laps and the wine steward brought a less expensive but still overpriced wine. Finally, those who had ordered salad saw the crisp leaves. Silverware was exchanged. We chatted, We drank more wine. We tried water which was regularly refilled. The salad dishes were cleared and we waited some more. The waiter said "any minute now". He said it again15 minutes later. Finally, 2.5 hours after we had arrived, the entrees appeared. The kids were asleep in their parents arms or with a head down on the table. As I noted the entrees were delicious. The shortfall? The fresh vegetable bed under the stuffed quail was lukewarm at best. The quail not much warmer. The same was true with the beds under the pork sausage and the chicken. Only the salmon was sufficiently warm. After brief discussion, and noting the late hour, we elected to finish our entrees rather than send back for a warmup. Coffee? No. Deserts? No, its time to go. I paid the bill and noted to the waiter that if there wasn't a mandatory tip for a party over six and if I hadn't been sitting across from the open kitchen window and watched were the bottle neck was (the chef line not the servers), I would have halved it. Instead, Black Cat will not have a return from our family. I am also sure my son will share the story with his Boulder friends who love good wine and food.
Management seems to have a problem. Lots of people on the prep line; lots of waiters and support staff (they did a lot of standing and waiting), two bartenders and a sommelier. No one, however, seemed to be in charge. No head waiter not even a single person who checked in the reservations. On the chef's line, each station was active, but not very coordinated. Where was the head chef? Why a chef who could could make up such fantastic entrees, appetizers, etc and not see that they came reasonably warm is a mystery to me.
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