And then there was the oddest restaurant experience ever…

This is going to be an odd restaurant review.  Because we didn’t eat any food! But I’ll get to that…

We are real restaurant geeks, so had been excited for the opening of Backwoods Bistro in Tallahassee.  Almost two weeks after it opened (I mention that because it’s important for context) we headed there on Friday night with some friends.  Abe and I arrived at 8pm and had a drink at the bar waiting for our friends to get there at 8:30, which worked out because there was a 30 minute wait for a table.  When we initially got there, it was busy for sure, but we were some of the last people to come in so it thinned out during our drink.

We sat at the bar and had a cider and beer on draft.  The selection was varied and heavily microbrew oriented, which I liked.   The prices were good for the drinks as well.  The bartender looked a little shell shocked although he wasn’t busy at the time we were there.  He wasn’t as responsive as I am used to from bartenders, but was very knowledgeable.

Draft line up

There is a stage at one end of the bar, and the staff were getting lots of bottle beer on ice, so there must be a bit of a late night crowd that comes in with live music.

Stage

At about 8:35 the hostess came and got us and brought us to a nice booth in the main seating area.  The rest of the restaurant is not much to look at, but I was happy with the booth seating.

Looking out from the booth

The bartender ran our credit card and made it seem like it would be no big deal to transfer our drinks to the table.  We told our server we had drinks at the bar and she said it would be easy to transfer.  We ordered new drinks and things started to get weird.  The hostess came by with scraps of paper in her hand and wondering what we had to drink at the bar because we hadn’t paid.   We told her our server said she had transferred it, and the hostess asked who our server was (if anyone in the restaurant should know that, it should be her).  She walked away confused and came back a few minutes later again asking us what our drinks had been because they had not been transferred and she didn’t know who our server was.  She wandered off after we insisted again the server had the drinks.

Anyways, our server came by and brought 3 of the 4 drinks we had ordered.  The 4th never did make it.  We ordered an appetizer (it was about 8:45 at this time) and she said there was a bit of a kitchen hold up.  We had a pregnant lady with us and it was getting late, so we hurried up to make our main course decisions so we could get it in.  Then the server came back and said it would take over an hour for our food.  We should have left then.  But we were seated and just kept going.

I was having difficulties picking anything from the menu.  I had been under the impression that it was a seafood restaurant, but there were large sections on the menu for sandwiches, pizza and pasta?  In fact, there was not a huge amount of seafood, and not many “local” options.  Things like tuna instead.  In general, nothing was that appealing to me, the menu was a little confused and seemed more roadhouse-ish with lots of melted cheese on things.  I saw some plates go out to tables, and they were heaping with food so if you are a big eater you will get your fill.

Turns out I didn’t have to make a decision.  The server came by at about 9 and announced “the kitchen has told me they are not making any more food tonight”.   Cue my shocked face.  We were told we would not be getting our appetizer.  We could not order our mains.  No.more.food.  So we said we better leave and she replied that would be a good idea.

It was like the kitchen just said “enough”.  The place is new, but had gone through a full weekend of service before we got there, so should have been getting the flow of things when we were there.  We were in the restaurant for an hour, and it was busy but nothing insane.  Maybe the kitchen was in the weeds a little, but to just stop?  With open chits?!  I worked in restaurants for about 5 years and never saw that happen.  Maybe we smelled funny?

Another odd thing was no manager came by.  I could see him, but he sent the server over instead.  And she wasn’t that apologetic.  She did quickly comp our full drinks, and Abe and I paid for the ones we had drank before (she tried to comp those too though).

We left and had amazing sushi.  At a busier restaurant than Backwoods.  In the end, it was better than waiting another hour for our food, and food I didn’t really want.  I will not go back there to try it out again, and honestly there are so many great restaurants in Tally I would really recommend you don’t go either.

 

Backwoods Bistro on Urbanspoon

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12 responses to “And then there was the oddest restaurant experience ever…

  1. I’ve been waiting for this after the preview on Twitter. Just confirms that I have no need to stop by that particular establishment.

  2. Hands down the weirdest experience I have heard about anyone having in a Tally area restaurant! I still want to check it out, but may go before the employees decide stop cooking for the evening. ;)

  3. I am just completely flabbergasted by this, and even more so that they just didn’t give a crap (and still don’t it seems).

  4. leave a yelp review….and trip advisor…or post on their facebook page. ;-)

  5. Winky Jenkins-Rice

    Two in Tally! I am one of the owners of Backwoods Bistro- my son is the chef and I am obviously interested in seeing our new family business succeed. I apologize that I just saw your review last night and was unable to respond on Urbanspoon since you posted as a blogger. First of all I appreciate you taking the time and effort to give us a review because as a new restaurant we are striving to learn from every experience- the good, the bad and the ugly! Yours was very ugly! I am very disturbed about your negative experience. I offer my sincerest apologies and will follow up with the staff right after. There are so many kinks to work out in a new restaurant and we are having very successful days and other days are still challenging-mostly due to new staff and working out procedures with a packed house. We are committed to making our restaurant a place where folks return again and again. If you would, please call me. I would personally like to talk with you and offer you compensation for your negative experience.294-9601

    • Hi Winky,

      I appreciate your response and honesty! I can clearly see you care about how people are responding to your restaurant, not only from your comment here but also your responses to many other online comments.

      I have been taking a look at some of those online comments, and many are not positive. Most of them are due to service problems. I only give this advice as a lover of eating in restaurants (I am no food industry expert), but I can’t say enough that you should motivate your manager to touch tables more. There is no excuse for why our server had to tell us that we would not be getting food after being there for an hour. Much would have been smoothed over for us, and probably with many other people, if the manager had been around and dealing with it properly.

      I understand you are newly opened, but this town was excited for you to get here! Weeks to a month worth of working out the kinks is going to leave a bad impression as people are rushing out now to eat there.

      And thank you for your offer for reimbursement, but there is nothing to reimburse! We didn’t pay for anything we shouldn’t have.

      -Sara, one half of twointally

  6. Incredibly bizarre and unacceptable experience you guys had. Talk about a lack of Southern hospitality. Kudos to you for being so polite during your visit and in your review. It is also nice that the owner did care enough to reply to you but it’s really “a day late & a dollar short.” While they did have their “grand opening” about 2 weeks before you arrived they have been open for at least 6 weeks(I know because I live w/in easy walking distance.) Plenty of time to get the kinks out IMHO. During our weeknight experience there over a month ago, the food was good but the service was extremely slow even with the place being only a quarter full and we never saw/spoke to a manager either. That is a real shame because if the service was better we would walk over frequently. For their sake I hope they get their act together. I’d hate see that parcel become vacant again.

  7. I was in the restaurant business for many years. My advice is simple-if you want to be a busy restaurant, act like one. Never give people a reason not to come back.

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