Trouble With Toast

Burger Joint | May 15, 2008

On Tuesday night, we journeyed to Bethesda to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend from high school.  Normally I would balk at partying in Maryland, but my friend is awesome–AND the voyage gave me a chance to try the Burger Joint, the DC area’s newest shrine to cow on a bun.

The restaurant is in a FANTASTIC location, facing Veterans Park (which means lots of great outdoor seating). We got there at about ten to six, and we were the only customers in line (but not for long). I ordered the bacon cheeseburger, medium rare, with pepper jack cheese and fries. Boyfriend got the Cuban burger (which came with Serrano ham AND roasted pork) with onion rings. We both got sodas, as I couldn’t convince him to split a shake with me. Boo! Everyone behind the counter was very upbeat and friendly.

We ordered at 5:57 and were given #2148. As the minutes ticked by, we heard numbers 2149, 50, 51, 52, etc. At 6:17, when I heard #2153 being called, I approached the counter and inquired as to the status of our order. Apparently, our ticket had been lost–I worked in “the biz” for many years, and that kind of stuff happens quite frequently, so when the grill cook apologized very sincerely and said he’d have our food to us as quickly as possible, I returned to my seat and awaited the deliciousness.  Again, to be clear, no one noticed that we’d been waiting for a while–I went up to the counter after 20 minutes and inquired about our food, and then one of the cooks yelled for the manager to come over and comp our meal (which I’m glad he didn’t do). They responded to my complaint, but it certainly wasn’t as proactive as it should have been. 

Well, not long after I sat back down, the manager came over to our table. I was expecting a reiteration of the apology and nothing more. Instead, he said, “So, what’s the deal here?” and asked us what we had ordered. The manager walked away while I was in the middle of a sentence, came back with our food, and slammed two brownies on the table, indicating that they were on him. No one approached our table again for the remainder of our time there.  I definitely believe that a personal visit and some free brownies are both nice gestures. But I was simply expecting a sincere comment, such as an apology for the mistake or a “we hope you come back and see us” sort of thing, and instead we got an annoyed “So, what’s the deal here?” (which seemed strange because he had JUST spoken to his staff and had been apprised of the problem) and a “These are on me” as he threw two brownies on the table. It was like he couldn’t get away fast enough.

The food was EXCELLENT–our burgers were perfectly cooked, and I really enjoyed the amount of char taste that was present. The bacon was whole (not chopped, of which I’d heard rumors) and quite flavorful, and the bun was substantial enough to handle the meat and toppings without being overly dense. The lettuce, tomato, and onion all tasted fresh, and I really enjoyed the “mojo” sauce. Boyfriend loved his burger as well, and his first comment was, “Wow, I can really taste the quality of the ingredients.” The onion rings were good but not great (a little greasy for my taste, but definitely hot and fresh), but the fries were outstanding–the double-frying makes it so that they can be thicker cut AND crispy, and the soaking of the potatoes really enhances the taste. All around, I found that the quality and quantity of the food were very much in line with the prices.

So why did I leave with a bad taste in my mouth (so to speak)? I just couldn’t shake the annoyance that came with the manager’s handling of the situation. I didn’t want anything to be comped (after all, we ate a lot of food, and it was gooooooood), I didn’t want brownies, and I certainly didn’t want my rear end to be kissed all evening–I just wanted a sincere apology for the mix-up and some indication that my repeat business would be appreciated. To be honest, it probably would have been better if the manager hadn’t approached our table at all.

Again, the food was wonderful–but customer service is an important aspect of the dining experience, especially as the price point increases. I get that the manager was trying to do right, but the delivery just missed the mark with me, and it affected my experience enough for me to mention it. I really did love the food, and I would recommend Burger Joint to others–I just hope that Burger Joint works hard to keep the quality of its staff in line with the quality of its product.


1 Comment »

  1. I think Burger Joint is actually great. I’ve commented about it in my blog, if you care to see…

    Comment by hungrygoat — August 28, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

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