Monday, July 4, 2011

Brewing up a Lousy Experience

Dear Chris Punis, General Manager of Cambridge Brewing Company,

Tonight was my second visit to CBC. As my four friends, husband, and I stood in the courtyard of 1 Kendall Square, a man hurried his child out of one of the restaurants and on to the square, where she promptly threw up.

That's pretty much how I felt about my experience at CBC on Sunday evening.

About a year ago, I was at CBC and felt fairly underwhelmed about my experience then. I mean, it wasn't awful -- if I remember correctly, we had a good, friendly server, but the food and the beer were just all right. I didn't feel the need to go back, and I figured you wouldn't miss me.

Then a friend suggested going to CBC tonight. At first our visit seemed normal. Met 5 friends at the bar; my husband got a beer; the hostess was really nice and seated us right away. Our server got our drink orders in a fair amount of time. She took our food order in a fair amount of time.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And we cursed our friend for ordering a "very well done" steak.

And we waited some more.

And we wondered just how the medium rare burger was timed to match the very well done steak and just how long it took to bake a couple of pizzas. I mean, I know you're going to have a "slow food" event next month, but is your current service an indicator of what that event will be like?

And then the food finally came.  Great food is worth the wait, but was this worth it? Well, I had the pizza of the day, and it was pretty tasty, but nothing that I would remember--except for breakfast the next day, since I had some leftovers (and speaking of leftovers, does your kitchen not have any aluminum foil in it? I asked for tin foil instead of a container because I only had two slices of pizza, and I wanted to wrap them flat and slide them into my purse. I didn't want to deal with a container. I had to deal with a container because the server said the kitchen didn't have anything smaller).

While we were eating, we got the standard check-in from our server, and I managed to get another beer ordered. No one else did -- and we had some empty glasses at the table. Any other checking in was done on the move. If we really needed something, I'm not sure we could've stopped her because she was busy.

In fact, everyone looked busy, and looking around the half-full back dining area where we were, I couldn't understand it. Where was everyone going? Why was the hostess busing glasses?

Eventually the server came back to see if we wanted dessert, and we opted to split a strawberry whoopie pie. This whoopie pie took a good 10-15 minutes to show up. It's not like it was fresh-baked or required some sort of special preparation. This was a huge whoopie pie that was refrigerated, wrapped in paper, and put on a board with a carton of milk on the side. Why did it take so long?

Perhaps the wait wouldn't have been as bad if we didn't have empty glasses. No beer, no water, no hope of getting anything because our server was too busy elsewhere. My husband had to ask the bartender for a pitcher of water. Our server didn't even notice the pitcher on the table when she brought the dessert. Needless to say, we asked for our check right away, and our server was lucky she got a 15% tip.

I don't expect or want anything from this letter, but I want you to know that I won't be back, and it's not because the beer and food aren't acceptable. It's because the service is so bad that it brings down any quality that's in the product you offer. Not that it matters -- CBC has plenty of fans who don't mind being ignored.

Your pal,

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