I have to admit that being in the catering industry for a while tends to make you a food snob and a especially a service sob. I think we often discount real service and what a good waiter is. But I'm digressing.
Variety is the spice of life and I recently went for an Americano with J at a local place down the street. After a day of grinding out proposals and quotes I really was chomping at the bit to get out of the home office and surround myself with fellow hunams and grab a cup o joe somewhere with good company. So, J recommended we go to L'Espresso. We ended up shelling out $45.00 for a chicken panini, salad, Earl Gray tea, Americano and a chocolate pear tart. OUCH.
I wouldn't have minded swallowing the $45.00 for experience. But then the treat pretty much went down hill from there.
The ambiance was indeed nice, its a VERY pretty place. Yet the Americano was quite frankly pathetic and lukewarm. I'm quite sure this is not representative of Italian cuisine. (To put it in comparison, I had a stronger, more full bodied Americano at Aroma later that night just to erase that first Americano from my pallet. - a Franchise-made Americano!)
The chicken breast in the panini was decently juicy if plain. In my humble opinion there are plenty of things you can do to three slices of chicken breast, even while grilling them. Such juicy breasts were dying for some tender culinary love. Ahem. Pesto? Pepper? Anything? Even a light rub of herbs would be lovely. ESPECIALLY for $10.00! It was spicy. That's it. No hint of Italian basil to compliment the tomato bits, and one maybe two sheafs of lettuce just to say they were actually present and accounted for. Not even something to compliment the juiciness of the chicken or detract from the dryness of the toasted panini bread.
What really got me was that I feel we really got profiled by the waitstaff. We didn't even have the waitstaff visit to check up on us, refill my water, or refresh J's tea. Perhaps it was the fact that J was knitting or I was dressed down from my daily biz ware. Service was pathetic. I almost felt like tipping myself for the last bit I am about to mention.
First, I think the sad that this fine dining/ cafe establishment completely forgot the dessert. After nearly bussing the ho-hum waitress came by and stacked dishes our fine china like it was Denny's and was off. (I guess we're just not worth revisiting because we laid down a measily $45.00 bones)
So I went up to get J's dessert. The head waiter ends up realizing that he forgot and simply hands it to me from the fridge, completely cold. (I guess we're doing self-serve now!)
(For those that don't know, today it was -9, -16 with the windchill. Why the HECK would I want to have a cold dessert with my lukewarm, weak and defence-less Americano?) The end result? A hard tart with equally hard chocolate filling, and clammy slivers of pear in it. Room temperature or even a slight warmth would have really brought out the butter (if any) in the tart crust or even made the chocolate and pear pairing enjoyable.
The saddest part was that I had to get my dessert myself! The head waiter even unceremoniously handed the cold plate to me direct from the fridge (hint of pre-prepared earlier that morning, since the whip cream that was suppose to accent it was a shapeless white blob.
Above: Bleh. Its almost like home-style dessert. Self serve, direct from the fridge and cold
Perhaps if you want a nice place to sit and watch the world go by, go here. I simply don't think I'd come back here for the food nor the service. Perhaps it would be a nice venue, I'd just have to ensure that the there was a taste test before spending a dollar and having outside staff for service. The service at L'Espresso simply was shameful. The food was nothing to write home about and the price was certainly not representative of the experience.
(Sigh. I guess that's a - YES. I am a food/service snob!)