Tag Archives: bad experiences

My Wife and I Were Treated Shabbily at Marchand’s in St. Pete, and Got Terrible Food to Boot

LATEST UPDATE: We went back. Here’s what happened.

UPDATE: Vinoy Senior Manager of Operations Jonathan Sullivan reached out to us on Friday with a sincere apology for our experience at Marchand’s–which I honestly appreciate–and a request that Rebecca and I afford the restaurant another opportunity to show us the kind of service and food of which they’re capable. We are considering the offer.

OK, yeah, I tend to bitch about things, in a vague this-is-what’s-wrong-with-the-world sort of way.

I generally don’t call people or places out specifically, however, unless they provide a singular and stunning example of, well, of what’s wrong with the world.

Last night, my wife and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early, because she’ll be working late tonight at the restaurant. We hemmed and hawed about where to go for dinner–you know, go someplace we like but have been to a million times or go someplace new and take a chance on it not being spectacular–before deciding to patronize¬†Marchand’s, at the world-famous Vinoy Hotel, for the first time. Good reviews, good Zagat rating, etc.

We don’t splurge on a whole lot, but one of the things we’re willing to shell out for every couple of months or so is a great upscale dining experience. Rebecca works in the restaurant industry and is training to be chef, and we’re both passionate about good food (I am also passionate about bad food, and also any food); exceptional food is art, and it’s worth it to us to treat ourselves to some killer kitchen crew’s artistry every once in a while. But when you’re dropping that kind of cash, you also want the entire experience–I’m not saying we expect to be pampered, but we expect to have a good time.

We didn’t have a good time at Marchand’s. Our server couldn’t have been more conspicuously disinterested in interacting with a guy wet from the rain and a girl with purple hair and tattoos from shoulder to elbow. And the lengths of time between ordering and appetizers, and between appetizers and entrees, were completely ridiculous. Some fine dining experiences are longer than your average restaurant visit; we know this, we’re not new. That’s usually a multi-course meal, though–a whole evening’s worth of eating. NINETY MINUTES from order to entree, FOR A TWO-TOP, ON A WEDNESDAY, is beyond poor service. It’s “never mind, we’re leaving” service. Especially when your server seems to be actively avoiding your table.

What’s more, my entree was disappointing, and Rebecca’s–one of Executive Chef Mark Heimann‘s signature dishes, the cornmeal dusted trout–was downright terrible.

I respect Chef Heimann’s talents, and I doubt very seriously he was in the kitchen last night to see somebody butcher a dish with his name on it. And that’s not even really the biggest disappointment of the night. The biggest disappointment of the night was the fact that, in 2013, when all kinds of people are willing to pay good money to have a special dining experience, we got treated like shit. It shouldn’t ¬†happen to anyone, on any night, but it happened to ruin what was supposed to be a special night for us.