Don’t you hate it when an otherwise promising evening ends up in disappointment? Maybe it’s because your blind date, while smokin’ hot, turned out to be mind-numbingly boring. Maybe it’s because the hip new club you got passes to wound up being nothing more than a skeezy cougar hunting ground. Maybe it’s because you took your new girlfriend on the best date ever, and she STILL didn’t put out. In my case, it was because Repast (a restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward) had promise when we entered and delivered disappointment as we left.
We arrived a little early for a cocktail and made our way to the small bar. Drinks before dinner were fantastic–I had something with sparkling wine and yuzu sorbet in it, and the flavors changed with every sip as the sorbet melted. Genius. Jason had something very gingery that I didn’t care for, but he seemed to enjoy it. As we were led to our table, we commented about how much we enjoyed the space.
For a starter, I had the warm spinach and wild mushroom salad. It really was tasty, with the flavors of bacon, apples, mustard, and mushrooms all playing quite nicely together. The salad boasted a poached egg, which is part of why I ordered it, but it actually came with a fried egg (over easy). It still added a nice richness to the salad, but it also added extra oiliness. I would have loved to sop up the egg yolk with some good bread, but that is something that is NOT found at Repast. The “Wonderbread” was soft and fresh, but it didn’t have any interesting texture or flavor, and it wouldn’t have stood up to any sopping. Jason had octopus carpaccio, which I tasted and felt rather “meh” about–but, then again, I’m not a huge fan of octopus to begin with (I find it to be very tough).
I went with the tuna burger for my entree, cooked rare. It was actually delicious, and clearly made with quality tuna. The bun was a little greasy, so I ended up ditching it halfway through. The onion rings and fries were yummy (and NOT greasy), but the sauces that accompanied them were mediocre at best. The “aioli” tasted like plain mayo, the ketchup was bland, and the wasabi mayo was WAY too spicy for me. Jason ordered a chorizo-crusted pork chop, which was, to the restaurant’s credit, cooked very nicely so it was moist and tender. The sides that came with it (one was some sort of squash gratin) were utterly forgettable.
We tried three desserts (not full ones, as a nice feature of the menu is that you can do a dessert tasting): the banana pecan bread pudding, which I really enjoyed, the lemon chiffon, which had good flavor but bad texture, and the dark chocolate terrine, which was good. Service was a little unpredictable; sometimes three separate people would ask us if we needed anything, and sometimes we were left alone for long stretches. Beer and wine lists didn’t really jazz me (not by the glass, anyway), and the prices were a bit steep. Actually, I found the prices to be a bit steep for everything, including the food. Had we not had a gift certificate, the meal would have been too expensive for just a random Friday date night.
If we had left with only the above information, I probably would have still had a decent impression of Repast. However, as we were waiting to settle up, we noticed some troubling disparate treatment. Even though we had not received an amuse bouche (which we found odd, given that we had read and heard about them from other diners), the table next to us was being served one. Additionally, the chef/owner came out and visited with a number of guests (including the ones seated next to us), but he didn’t check in with everyone in the dining room (including us). And it’s a small dining room. My fiance was so upset that he tried to talk to the owner, but he disappeared. He sent an email the next day, outlining why he felt like he had been snubbed, but never received any response of any kind. I can assure you that we didn’t want any freebies–just an acknowledgement of our feedback and some kind of statement confirming our value as customers. But we got nada.
I still feel pretty whiny writing this up, but the more I thought about things, the more the situation bothered me. I don’t expect perfection, but in this day and age, and in this economic climate, diners who are paying $20-$30 for an entree should expect to feel welcome. A favorite dining critic of mine always says that less-than-stellar food can be overlooked if the service/experience is excellent, but no amount of culinary wowing can overcome poor interpersonal interactions. After dining at Repast, I really think he’s right.