The place looks beautiful, and grand. And we're told that the hotel service is extremely good. Now for the painful stuff about the restaurant.
We went as a group (around 15 people), a foodie meet-up group with multiple Michelin-star eating experience, and high expectations. Our group organizer had negotiated a 50% discount on the tasting menu (looking back, that was a mistake: for half price, what do you expect? but the punishment was way too harsh; read on). Over the 9-10 courses of the tasting menu, a couple were decent, most were very uninteresting and standard, and one was decidedly bad: the duck breast. They must have had two duck breasts in the kitchen, one almost off and the other really very much off. Half of us -- those who had the rotten duck -- obviously left it on the plate. On confronting the manager, he claimed that the duck was not rotten, but simply "aged". We told him that if that were the case, then why were we not told? Smugly, he said it was written on the menu, but then we looked at the menu and nowhere did it say the duck breast was "aged". Upon which, the manager flared, apologized with a forced smile, left, and was never seen again.
Since that event, I have been asking around about aging ducks, and everyone I had asked - including professional chefs in both France and Italy - told me they'd never heard of such a thing. Google actually says you can age a duck up to 60 days, but the procedure is not as simple as leaving it around in the kitchen, which was possibly what happened to our rotten, "aged" duck breast. Moreover, it seems that "aged ducks" are more popular in the US than Europe. Which probably explains why more Europeans like eating duck than Americans.
We sent back two bottles of wine because they were really, really bad: the kind of bottle which might cost 3-4EUR in any French supermarket was listed on the Clifton Inn's menu at 50+ USD (and I'm not saying those same bottles we were served actually cost 3-4EUR - I'm saying they tasted as if they did), then decided to go for a different strategy: we asked to tasted the open bottles (those you could order by the glass) to see which was best. As it turned out, we got the least worst, but still better than the previous trials.
There were also problems with the bill. They left the wine bottle out, in what we though was an apology gesture towards the rotten duck, but the service charge (automatically added to the menu since we were a large group) was too high: around 35-40%, but listed on the bill at 20%. We protested, and were told that the service charge was a percentage of the original tasting menu price rather than the discounted one. This goes against simple maths: 20% of 100$ cannot be 40$. So they took away the bill and re-calculated it. Again, we could make no sense of it - then we noticed that the missing wine bottle item had surreptitiously re-appeared on the bill. All in all, it took around an hour to pay that blasted bill. Talk about transparency.
The service was OK, but no more. Initially, the head waiter explained each course. After the 4th course, he decided we'd had enough explanations, and just served us the dishes without uttering a word.
Maybe it was just a one-off night, who knows? But my advice is to stay well clear of the place, at least for eating purposes.
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