La Favorita had disappointing food, horrible service - and a dirty cash grabbing trick.
As a travel blogger, one of the best parts of my job is enjoying a wide range of experiences –trips, festivals, museums, restaurants, and parks – and sharing them with my readers. I take pride in painting a vivid picture so others can relive my experiences, and it’s a job I don’t take lightly.
As a member of the Blog with Integrity program, I aim to be fair, impartial, transparent, and honest in my reviews. I am positive and upbeat while still giving an accurate and unbiased review. Thus far, I've been very fortunate to have had many positive experiences and it’s with a heavy heart to report on a negative one.
As many of you know, I’ve dedicated the month of May to my hometown of Ottawa. I’ve reported on special events, festivals, restaurants, and attractions. Continuing with this theme, I was looking forward to completing a review of a Preston Street restaurant. Preston Street is the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy and is chock-full of restaurants. Being a value based travel blog, I take advantage of programs like Groupon to help me discover new restaurants and still enjoy a good deal. Therefore, with Groupon in hand, we proceeded to La Favorita Restaurant.
We were promptly greeted by a staff member and immediately seated. Our waiter was friendly and we received our bruschetta appetizer in a timely fashion. The bruschetta was average – the tomatoes were flavorful and tasty, but it was served on what appeared to be hamburger buns, which was a bit unusual.
My main meal, penne pasta with chicken, roasted red pepper, and rose sauce, was lack luster. There was very little red pepper, it was not served with the traditional Parmesan cheese or cracked pepper, and the edges were cool. This dish was “nothing special” for me – I could have easily recreated it at home and it certainly didn’t feel like I was having a nice restaurant meal.
Ryan’s meal was even worse. He ordered filet mignon, medium rare, with the standard sides of vegetables and roast potatoes. When his dish arrived, the potatoes were both underdone and scalding hot (microwaving seems a likely culprit here). The vegetables were cold. But, given that he had just put in a 14 hour, non-stop day and was starving, he choked them down. But the steak was another matter. The steak was so bad he only ate half of it.
I’ll repeat myself here to let things truly sink in. My exhausted, hungry husband chose cold vegetables over a steak.
The filet mignon, ordered medium rare, came well done. Lacking in flavor, unseasoned, overcooked, with a bland au jus, Ryan remarked that he could have done better with a flank steak thrown on our backyard barbecue. After the first few bites, the waiter came over to ask how the meal was. At that time, Ryan said the steak was overdone. The waiter offered a limp apology but made no offer to rectify things.
Not one to ever give up on a piece of red meat, Ryan choked down a few more bites before admitting defeat. I have never seen him not finish a steak. Ever!
When the waiter collected the plate with half an unfinished filet mignon on it, he did remark that he could see that the steak was overcooked, with a solid grey interior, and that he would bring it to the kitchen’s attention. From where we were sitting, we could see him bring the plate back to the kitchen, show it to someone who looked like a manager or supervisor, who then proceeded to give us a bit of glare. Obviously this was not a situation that management was going to apologize for.
A few minutes later, the waiter returned with a dessert menu – not as an apology for the poor meal, but to try to sell us more food. We politely declined and asked for the bill. At this point, I mentioned that I was using a Groupon, which he was able to quickly process. After redeeming the Groupon, we were left with a balance of less than $6. Our waiter informed us that their policy was to charge a fee of $1.50 for non-cash transactions under $10.
Having worked with several businesses that use debit and credit terminals, I know that companies like Visa and MasterCard take a tiny percentage of each transaction and there is absolutely no disadvantage to charge a small amount. This surcharge was a transparent cash grab through and through.
So there we were. Still hungry, with bland and inedible food, a complaint put in with the waiter, passed along to the kitchen, and no apology or move to make amends. And we were hit with a surcharge of $1.50 to pay off the bill! We were angry, disappointed, and, more than anything – felt unappreciated. This was more than just a bad night – it was our worst restaurant experience to date in 2013.
What would you have done in our situation? Would you have stayed and raised a fuss and have charges reduced? Would the supervisor’s obvious disdain make you push harder, or just push hard to get out the door? What would have aggravated you more – the bad steak, the lack of contrition, or the final straw of a surcharge?
I’m sorry we had such a negative experience and I’ve done my absolute best to present it in a straightforward, accurate fashion. I would still heartily encourage my readers to explore Preston Street, try new restaurants, and discover all that Ottawa’s Little Italy has to offer.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. How do you deal with bad service?
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