We've always loved the eclectic ambiance at "Fast & French". It's a tiny space with communal seating that makes for sociable dining. This has been a local "go to" spot for lunch for a long, long time - I used to be a regular when I worked Downtown in a previous job. So, I thought it might be a fun place to grab dinner before attending a comedy show. If you don't want to wade through the rest of this review I'll cut to the chase: this may be a fine place for lunch, but they fail pretty hugely as a dinner establishment.
The meal started just fine with Goat Toast and Escargot appetizers. The snails were a bit chewy, but yummy nonetheless. Entrees were a complete disappointment. Two of us ordered the Seafood Normandy - fish, shrimp and scallops in a cream and white wine sauce. Sounds good right? Not so much. The cream sauce was stunningly tasteless. Trying to pull some flavor out with salt didn't help. I don't know about you but I expect the scallops to be pan seared in butter or olive oil - especially in a French joint. The caramelized crust that results from this cooking method creates a savory foundation that can be deglazed to create a rich sauce. Instead, all of the seafood appeared to be steamed or boiled? One diner chose to just skip eating this seafood mess. The other person in our party had the Shrimp dinner, which she said was serviceable. All dishes were served with couscous and steamed veggies. The vegetables were not seasoned, that we could tell, in any manner. On two of the plates they were under cooked so that they were difficult to bite into. So, the net effect on the plate was bland seafood with bland couscous accompanied by bland vegetables. We were underwhelmed.
The place isn't really about attentive service - it's a casual approach where it's OK to snag the waiter to ask for something as they go by your table. But on this evening our waiter never showed up at all after the entrees were served. Since the house procedure is to get your tab and pay at the front, this became annoying. Eventually we stopped waiting for the tab and went to the front to wait in line to pay. Not a big deal, but shouldn't the waiter stop by at least once to check in on us after the entrees are served?
I personally feel badly about panning a local restaurant that has been such an icon in the neighborhood. Maybe the owners will read this and take action to do something about the quality of their dinner experience.
For the time being I'll stick to their delicious lunch menu.