On the El Gaucho review
I was sooooo excited to spend my B-Day At El Gaucho!! I called ahead to let them know it was my B-Day because usually fine dining establishments usually do something about that. My husband and I were there on July 31st and had reso’s for 7:00 and I made sure we were on time. Having worked in a number of fine dining establishments in Chicago I was really interested to see what El Gaucho was all about.
We walked in and the hostess greeted us in a hohum way, no big deal I guess she thought we were there for her. Right before we were to be seated another customer came up and interrupted her seating us making us just stand there waiting on her instead of telling that customer she’d be right back, bad! Now mind you this is suppose to be Fine Dining k? We were finally seated and the service was truly nothing to speak of and we almost had to pour our own wine because it took forever for them to get back to us, remember with fine dining you don’t ever pour your own wine! The food was OK no big deal, and when we were finished w/dinner the busboy came by and asked if we wanted to take our unfinished bottle of wine home, we weren’t finished yet!!!!!. What about the bowl of fruit you’re entitled too, what about dessert, what about coffee, nothing!!!!! So now I’m getting pissed!!!!! I looked at my husband and said we’re being rushed out and he agreed. You know when someone is trying to get rid of you.
I told him I’m sitting here all night until I’m finished I’m not going any where!!! So finally we get the fruit bowl and all the waiter did was sit the dessert menu down didn’t bother to explain what was on it like they do in a REAL FINE DINING ESTABLISHMENT!!!!!! So now I’m waiting for cake and candle right? NOTHING!! we did get dessert no fan fare or anything. Now I’m ready to go and when my husband went out for a smoke Wallace the waiter has the nerve to come and say with candle in hand I’m sorry I forgot to say happy birthday and put the candle in the mud cake you ordered. I looked at him like he was a nut and he got the message and left. Fine Dining my ass, you’ve got a lot to learn Portland Oregon, I mean really!!! so sad. Never again and I’ll make sure I inform everyone I know please don’t bother find somewhere else to dine.
Maybe next time you should go to Shakey’s. They really know how to do a birthday up right!
I somehow doubt you would have won that case of PopShop Pop on Ramblin’ Rod’s smile contest.
Wow Dude, I bet you have to sift a lot of silt to find these nuggets.
Food Dude says
Naw, they jump out at me ;)
I’d totally give anything for a Shakey’s birthday again!
Shakeys ca. 1970 that is.
My Aunt and Uncle used to play in a banjo band at Shakey’s Ca. in the ’70s. Fun times!
Food Dude says
Shakey’s used to be a monthly thing for my family. Silent movies, banjo and beers. Well, I didn’t get the beer. Thanks for bringing back the memories
No surprises, had the same type of service at El Gaucho for our 26th anniversary this year. I think the idea is to bring a large wad of $20 bills, tip the hostess, tip the waiter, tip the buspeople, tip the guy making your caesar salad. Maybe, just maybe, the tips will result in some help in celebrating a big event. Wait a minute! This is starting to resemble a strip bar…Fact: $20 tips (ahem) lead to more attention of the personal type. Fact: Acropolis serves great steak. Heeeyyyyyyy, is El Gaucho really a high end strip bar????? Has Mary’s Club opened a 2nd location? Does anyone in this city do anything without large tips? Well?
Ok, i go back to my corner now.
The OP was expecting FINE DINING at El Gaucho? She used that horrid phrase (always ruins my appetite) four times!
Precisely what is “fan fare”: the junk food they serve at the Rose Garden Arena?
The dessert menu needs explaining? An interpreter, per chance???
For birthdays nothing beats Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor ca. 1970…bass drums, sirens, the resulting crying babies, dishes such as Portland Zoo (plastic little animals crawling on it) and The Trough (’nuff said!) all staff and customers singing…ah such bliss…now THAT was how to dine out on one’s birthday!
Food Dude says
I was think Chevy’s, with the big sombrero that they stick on your head, sing and clap, and then take your picture when you have slipped to your lowest possible level.
Hmm. I was wondering what to do for my birthday!
Nothing beats Farrell’s!!!
I feel really bad for her husband. Poor schmuck.
easy on the explanation points. roll out the red carpet we have another birthday…
It’s my birthday, give me free food. I’m dead, give me a free coffin. And all too soon we have no restaurants or undertakers still in business.
If a candle in a free mud cake does it for you, Portland just three-upped your usual “real fine dining” Chicago establishment.
Remember to give Wallace $20 next time.
All I have to say is that I’d better get my bowl of fruit when I drive out to Camas (Washougal? Stevenson?) or mud cake will take on a whole different meaning.
Had me hanging by a thread at the repetitive “usually” in the second sentence; lost me completely at “reso’s”. Since when is indignation an excuse for abandonment of basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
What is a fine dining birthday experience? I worked at a 4 Star restaurant (that was working very hard to get that 5th star) a couple of summers ago. If the guest made note that there was a birthday it would be listed on the reservation sheet. The 3 servers assigned to that table would be made aware and all 3 would make sure to say “happy birthday” to the guest. Often times if the party was open to it the singer in the live band would sing a very sultry “happy birthday” and invite the couple to come to the dance floor for a special dance. For dessert there was always a candle, but definitely no clapping or “happy birthday” song.
I saw our pastry chef elegantly attach engagement rings to desserts, as well as taking the time for other such lovely touches. Bottom line, people came for an experience and that is what we provided for them. One of my favorite servers there was like a fine actor in a Shakespearean play. He not only knew how to wow his “audience”, but more importantly, he loved doing it!
Strangely, I never expect anyone to acknowledge or celebrate my birthday expect for my friends and family, no matter how much I pay them. I must be some kind of chump.
Nancy Rommelmann says
I once told servers at a restaurant in LA that it was my ex’s birthday, and maybe they could bring a piece of cake at the end, with a candle. They wound up singing to him. He was mortified, and later said to me, “Do not ever, ever, ever do that again.”
I think it’s bizarre that someone would want servers to wish them happy birthday. A candle stuck in a cake is one thing, but to expect to be fussed over, by strangers, who you are paying? And later publically complain that you were not? I don’t know what this woman expects from the world, but she will be much better off in the long run not getting it.
homer's son says
That was no lady, that was my mother. I laugh so hard, milk came out my nose and I went into hyperventilation. I think Denny’s stopped doing free dinners on your birthday and it think it says “fine dining” on their menus, but you will have to pour your own wine.
Pile on… come on PFD readers, only 18 comments? Surely you can do better than that. Get even more frothy with the vitriol, like I know you can. Make yourselves proud!
Very funny! I guess her first problem was choosing El Gaucho for “fine dining”, but that she believes that somehow “Portland, Oregon” has some sort of control over how fine the food or service is there AND blames the city for the lack of fineness, screams mental illness.
Besides, as several others have pointed out, nothing beats Farrell’s of 40 years ago for public birthday celebrations. However, I prefer that my waiters do NOT sing to me. Ever. But while celebrating her birthday (4th maybe) at Farrell’s, when the hoopla began, my sister stood on her chair and did her very best parade wave for the entirety of the *fanfare*.
Once again Food Dude, I appreciate what you do and all the crap you have to go through to do it.
I think there is a middle ground in all of this. Having recently had the best restaurant experience of my life at Gary Danko in San Francisco (and that operation totally gets that they are in the service industry), I’d have to say El Gaucho could have and should have done better. Rushing diners in expensive joints is not OK. And the extra touches set a restaurant apart. Danko’s reservantionist asked if I was there for a special occassion and in fact my whole trip to SF was to use my 25th work anniversary bonus to fund a really special vacation so I said as much. Even if it had not been a special occasion, their wait staff is all about service but because it was one for me, there were some special, thoughtful things done. Needless to say, the payback for GD is that all of their customers sing their praises and that in turn generates more business. As for the wait staff, I was very generous, because that kind of thoughtful, excellent service without being stuffy, should be encouraged.
Hey Food Dude, since I was the first to respond to her original post on your El Gaucho review page, do I get an honorable mention??? :-) BTW, I don’t think her version of FINE DINING (!!!!!!!!!!!) is quite as low as Shakey’s, methinks Red Robin would fill the lady’s bill, nicely.
Food Dude says
I grant you the Portland Food and Drink medal of honor.
Hee! Thanks (I guess).
One of the things I think we’re dealing with here is age discrimination. I have been dining out for twenty years. I’m reasonably good looking, so is my wife, and I’ve got a couple of nice looking young kids. When it’s me and my wife I get good service and when it’s me and my family, we get good service. When I went to El Gaucho on my 38th, we were treated wonderfully. But notice how the person with the 25th Anniversary got treated poorly as well.
Come in bald with a white haired wife, and the hot little hostess ain’t gonna give you the time of day…that is, unless, old fat guy, you stick a twenty in the palm of her hand.
Some places, like Ringside, treat their older patrons with the respect they deserve for just making it past 60, much less 70.
Ultimately, its a financial risk for El Gaucho to shun the senior market, but one it thinks it can take, as some tables are filled with seniors taking the abuse, while others are filled with power players, poseurs, and, the house would hope, plenty of young beauiful people.
I seriously doubt that. Many of El Gaucho’s maitre D’s are older (though not 60 or 70) and it’s well known that plenty of older people have money, as well. Plus the 25th work anniversary person referenced their glorious experience in SF, not at El Gaucho. The original post referred to the lady’s birthday–which could be any age range.
For that matter, many silver anniversary guests would be roughly 50, which is not terribly old. I vividly recall the table next to me at El Gaucho had patrons in their mid- to late 50’s, receiving plenty of attentive service.
Sounds like a good candidate for http://www.whitewhine.com
Hey Jules, that’s quite the awesome site! Though under today’s entry there is a a degree of legitamacy about the Ritz Carlton bitch. And at least they didn’t talk about FINE DINING!!!!!!!
I love that site. One of my favorites of all time was: Ugh. I have lobster stuck in my teeth.
Haha! And you’re right “fine dining” is right up there with “gourmet”.
this didn’t strike me as being about the restaurant’s handling of elderly patrons, but rather the patron’s handling of new money…
Wow, this whole thread is pretty narcissistic… can’t wait to check out the rest of the blog. Seriously, is the food scene in Portland so dull that commenting on a benign review is worth a mention of any kind?
Yeah, things are pretty slow here in PDX, though I hear that a new Five Guys is opening next spring. Get ready!