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Dinner at Suite 701

Written by eadelson on Saturday, January 16th, 2010

My Friends and I at Suite 701

Last night, 11 friends and I travelled to Suite 701 to enjoy a special fixed price menu for the yearly Happening Gourmand event in the Old Port. The event takes place from Jan 11-31 at 8 restaurants, including Narcisse, Mechant Boeuf and Suite 701, with 3-course meals at three prices: $18, $22, $27. Happening Gourmand allows restaurants to stay busy during the notoriously slow January month, while allowing us penny-pinching students to dine at restaurants we couldn’t otherwise afford. Amazing!!!

Suite 701 is a restaurant/lounge located on the main floor of the Hotel Places des Arms. It is decorated with shades of purple and blue lighting which is nicely offset by the tall white walls and white curtains. As gorgeous as the ambiance at Suite 701 was, it wasn’t enough to make up for the horrible service we received.

I was excited about the choice of restaurant because it had been picked by our foodie friend, Amanda. Considering her particularity about restaurants, I knew this one was going to be superb. While the food and ambiance were totally superb, the service was so atrocious, the idea of dining at Suite 701 makes me want to stop at Wendy’s on the way over, just so I can stomach the excruciatingly long wait times.

The night was off to a great start as Paula, my room mate, and I took advantage of the seasonally warm temperatures by donning our fall coats. We all met at Amanda’s apartment before the meal to have a few drinks. As we cracked open our bottle of Malbec, Amanda brought our attention to the cheese plate she prepared. Cendrillon, the Quebec goat’s cheese that won best in the world for 2009, was the most exceptional of all the cheeses. While I hate to ruin my appetite on appetizers, my cheese indulgence tided me over until we finally got our main meals at Suite 701 (three hours later!!!).

We arrived at the restaurant, sat down at our table, and waited exactly 15 minutes before we were presented with a drink menu. Our waitress looked like she was operating on a cloud of Valium, as she nonchalantly moved about the restaurant without so much as a water glass being placed on our table. She eventually took our drink orders, brought the food menus to our table, and after what seemed like an eternity, she took our orders. When she brought the wine glasses to our table, Maeve (lady gaga) commented that her Sauvignon Blanc was noticeably less full than the glass of Syrah that Paula was drinking. Since I was sitting near three veteran waitresses, they all expressed discontent over the uneven wine glasses.

So, after one hour and fifteen minutes, our appetizers arrived. But wait, only eight of the eleven guests actually received their food! After five minutes, two more plates were served, and one guest waited another five minutes for her food. This kind of inconsistency was truly inexcusable. The kitchen and the waitress should have been wise enough to wait until all the meals were ready before serving. To make one guest wait without a meal, while ten other guests are forced to look at their food, is inexcusable. Finally, the last plate was served and we ate! However, another forty five minutes went by before our main meals arrived at our table.

To be fair, the food was absolutely superb. My salmon steak was cooked to perfection and moist as all can be. The side of grilled veggies was simple, but delicious. Most of our guests ordered veal cheeks served on mashed potatoes with veggies and enjoyed it thoroughly. The desserts were also fantastic, with creme brulee served in tiny ramequins with strawberries and blackberries on top. While some people received much more fruit than others, we were so used to this kind of inequality among the dishes that it was hardly an issue.

After the meal, I spoke with the restaurant’s director to explain the issues we had experienced. He apologized for the service and offered that Happening Gourmand was stressful for their restaurant. I didn’t buy this apology for two reasons: firstly, the restaurant was not overcrowded or overwhelmed as he had suggested, and secondly, considering most people at our table ordered identical dishes, it should not have taken LONGER for us to receive our meals than anyone else in the restaurant. In any event, he asked if a round of shooters would be appreciated (obviously I said yes). After waiting another fifteen minutes for the drinks to arrive, we crowded around the bar for strawberry vodka concoctions. A nice effort, but too little too late. Fortunately the woman at coat check was the speediest person we had spoken to all night. We got our coats in no time and bolted out the door.

While this blog emphasizes the worst experiences of our night at Suite 701, I still had a very pleasant evening. It is not often that we dine in Old Montreal. It was wonderful to spend the evening in such a posh restaurant and eat elaborate foods. I also enjoyed the uninterrupted time with friends I don’t get to see as often as I like. All in all, the evening was a learning experience. I learned that informing restaurant owners, managers or directors is the best way to rectify a poor experience. I also learned not to take out my frustrations on a waitress, as the poor service might not be her fault. Finally, I learned not to wait until the end of the meal to inform the waitstaff that you are unhappy with the service. Say it right away, and then chill and enjoy the experience!

Erica Adelson

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