Hey Foodies! I’m back with more reviews for you. The Gauchos Churrascaria review has been clogging my blogging for awhile as I struggled for the right tone. I’ve mentioned before I’m not a proper food critic, just a girl that likes to eat. I also don’t enjoy being a jerk. Some people love to complain (this water’s too wet! there’s too much ice/not enough ice/ I wanted a spring of mint). I don’t. I like to eat and complaining gets in the way of my chewing and swallowing. I’m actually kind of a people pleaser. I’ve been to a restaurant and ordered risotto and they brought me lasagne and I thought, “well, I do like lasagne…” and was perfectly content to tuck in. I’m really not a completely high-maintenance person (although I do have my moments). I don’t expect red carpet treatment but I do expect friendly, prompt and professional service. I expect good food cooked properly. I expect you, as a business, to deliver what you promised to deliver.
Yes, everyone has a bad day. Every restaurant has that off-day when the chef has mono and a hostess just had a bad breakup/ a pet die/ colonic endoscopy. I hate to write a bad review of a place because of one experience because you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.
On the other hand, I don’t care what’s going on behind the scenes. If you’re running a business, you better bring a professional attitude to the table. Otherwise, you will be back cooking in your home kitchen and your restaurant will experience the notoriously high restaurant attrition rate. I know I’ve said it before, I will say it again: we’re in a freaking recession guys. You want my money? Then do your job and earn it.
See what I did there? I’ve moved from people-pleaser to hard-ass critic. Because I was completely, thoroughly pissed off by my experience at Gauchos Churrsacaria.
The tone I ended up deciding on is “pissed off.”
I took my husband out for dinner on his birthday, which falls on the 4th of July (see how long I sat on this review? I REALLY hate writing bad reviews! I want to love everyone’s business! Don’t make this hard on me guys! Help me help you!). I made the reservation over a month in advance just because you never know what a holiday will be like at a restaurant. It could be dead, it could be slammed.
We walked into Gauchos in Manchester at 6:30 pm and it was dead. There were two tables of diners besides us. A hostess, a bar tender, a waiter and guys who served meat were on duty. Evidently, every person has one job to do and they can only do that one job. So a meat server will stand around while you’re waiting for someone to take your drink order or bring you a glass of freakin’ water.
I’m getting ahead of myself. The hostess seated us and we began looking at the wine menu. The only waiter in the restaurant (which is beautiful by the way) was chatting with the table behind us. My husband and I discussed wine options and picked out one that sounded exciting. And waited. And waited. The bartender was puttering around behind the bar (one person sat there). The meat servers were standing around and it seemed like they were kind of waiting for something to do.
And our waiter kept chatting.
I get it. Sometimes you get regulars in and you have to kinda love ‘em up a little bit. We get that service at a few of our favorite places, so I understand that it’s delicate to extricate yourself from conversation with your regulars. So I figured I’d use the restroom while he was finishing up the chat with the table behind us. On my way back, he was still at it. I heard him say, “to me, it doesn’t matter how much you have because you can’t take it with you when you die.” Well, not only is that a trite philosophy, and a rather obvious one, but it seemed a tad inappropriate since he was neglecting his paid duties to share that philosophy.
Sigh. Pissed off.
So we wait and we wait and we wait. And then we’re wondering if we’re missing something. Are we supposed to just get up and serve ourselves from the buffet with the various side dishes? We had no idea. Keep in mind the restaurant was completely dead. This was not a busy holiday. It was so quiet I could hear the conversations from both tables in the restaurant. So there was no reason that someone didn’t notice us sitting there like a couple of assholes waiting to be served. But everyone probably figured “oh well, it’s not my job to go ask those people if they’ve been here before and if they know how our restaurant works.”
Then we start Facebooking how awful our experience is. Then we start getting responses from Facebook friends that they had terrible experiences here before. Now that raises red flags for me. This is not an off-night but another instance of bad service. Finally, I told my husband that if someone didn’t come and take our order we would just go celebrate his birthday at Hanover Street Chophouse or CR Sparks. I kept apologizing for picking a bad place to take him on his birthday. Around that time, we heard the waiter say, “I better go and check on this table, I guess I’m waiting on them.”
I guess I’m waiting on them. Um, did you forget that you’re not a guest lecturer at the restaurant and you’re actually, like, a waiter? And the only one working that night?
So the dude comes over and asks if we’ve been taken care of. “No,” I seethed. “Have you ever been here before?” “No,” I raged. These questions would have been excellent to ask 25 minutes ago. “Well, that’s awkward,” he said.
No fucking kidding.
Here’s the upshot: the idea behind the restaurant is a good one. In reality, the meat is dry and the service is so beyond useless there’s really not much chance of this place surviving. Things got a little better once the waiter gave us cards to signal the meat-servers that we wanted them to come to our table. So that‘s why the meat-servers kept hovering around, they were waiting for us to signal them.
First, why can’t the meat servers just come to our table and tell us how the restaurant works? Sure, the waiter should be the one to do it, but if he’s refusing to do his job does that mean the whole restaurant should break down? It’s a freaking cardboard disk. Walk it over to our table.
Second, they need a card to signal you want the waiter to come to your table.
Third, there is something very off about the vibe in this place. I can only describe the demeanor of the meat-servers as funerary. They weren’t very engaging when they came to the table. They were stone-cold silent, which sort of chilled conversation whenever they were at the table. There doesn’t seem to be much of a team spirit or cohesion among the staff. There’s no “oh, you’re busy so I’ll get these people started with some wine.” There’s no pleasant interaction between the staff. There’s really no pleasantness at all.
Sorry to be so venomous but this restaurant was a complete bummer. Definitely don’t go here on a special occasion. Or any other occasion, come to think of it.