We found this well reviewed French bistro, Bistrot Lepic on Wisconsin Avenue. We got there after a bit of a hike. We walked into a narrow hallway with a flight of stairs straight in front of us (up to the winebar). We entered the restaurant which opens right into the dining room of tightly packed tables. Luckily, we got a slightly larger table further back in the restaurant.
Our server came right up and gave us our menus. He didn’t come back again until he took our order...and THAT was a bit longer than it should have been, so no drinkie to help us decide.
H started with the black trumpet mushroom risotto with snails. Very flavorful, very rich. I had the mussel soup with leeks and potatoes. It was rich and tasty, but a little too thin. Very nice warm crusty bread (with cold butter) was offered... piece by piece...I guess that's why the French are so thin.
Our entrées didn’t come…and didn’t come…and still didn’t come. And our table was completely ignored by any type of waitstaff. Anyone that came near just rushed on by with nary a word of explanation.
Finally, when every single other table had been served, even later arrivals, the waiter stopped by quickly and said it will be soon. Still waiting, more waiting. Then a higher-up person and said in a very thick French accent something about the tickets being confused. No apology, no trying to smooth over things…just a quick word. He did offer H another glass of wine. I was being passive aggressive, so I said no to another flute of the house champagne. Our entrées still didn’t come.
I wasn’t hungry anymore, I wasn’t happy anymore and I wasn’t interested in whatever I had ordered half an evening ago. Just then, of course, the food came.
My scallops were sautéed and sitting on top of a broccoli purée surrounded by ginger butter with pretty speckles of chives and sprinklings of paprika. The ginger flavor was repeated in the broccoli to good effect. H’s medaillons of beef with polenta and an old time shitaki mushroom sauce were good he said, but I thought the dish looked a little dowdy. The polenta WAS delicious.
After the table had been cleared and crumbed, a selection of desserts was shown as I said, "You must be kidding." "You think I’m going to spend one more second in your lousy bistro and wait for you to get a dessert order right, sometime before sunrise? You are joking!” Oh, wait, that’s just what I said in my head. To the server I said, JUST the check. I got my coat on and we left as quickly as we could.
It was a shame. As I’ve said before, I don’t go to restaurants to fight and moan. The FOOD at Bistrot Lepic was wonderful. The service was worse than unfriendly. It was inefficient and unprofessional. You don’t leave a table just hanging there, when you KNOW there has been a problem in the kitchen. That’s what’s so hard to understand.
If the loss of the order had been acknowledged (at all) and the staff had been at all interested in making us happy, I probably would have thought, oh, they made a boo-boo, but weren’t they nice to bring us a salad while we waited or whatever…As it was, they ignored the problem AND US and ruined an day that had been so gloriously started by my brush with reality television royalty.
Why does every discussion of a restaurant degenerate into a discussion of the service? No matter how good the food is, bad service casts a pall over the entire meal. Good food means nothing if it’s brought 40 minutes late and without apology or redress. I guess the truth is you don’t have to be French to stink at service, but it’s way more disappointing if you are…