Last Saturday I went with a friend to the newly opened Blue Martini Jazz Café to listen to live music – the wonderful Dawn Pemberton and her band were performing and they were excellent; a mix of R&B, Jazz, Funk and World Beat music which I love. The ambience was reminiscent of a true dinner/jazz club which is lacking in Vancouver. I can also walk to this place from home which is a big plus.
The friend I went with had been there for Dine Out Vancouver and said the food was great. Here’s the complaint:
We only wanted to order one glass of wine and share some appies while listening to a few sets. I only complain when necessary and hate to do so; but I became that woman for the duration of the evening. And I believe that it only helps for the owners to know when a customer is not satisfied.
So we decide to order a glass of red wine each, a salad and an antipasto platter for two.
The waiter tells us the wine we want (which is on the menu) is not available (they just haven’t yet taken it off the menu) but he can bring us a comparable one in its place. He wasn’t planning to tell us that the one replacing it will cost us each $4 more – something made me ask (I must have felt suspect because I do not normally ask the price of something that should be a given). We order a glass anyway.
He brings the bottle and starts to pour directly from bottle to wine glass. It looks like a taster. Which brings me to question how many ounces they serve. He says six. I say it looks more like four. I finish in five sips and decide not to order more wine. Maybe should have gone with a martini. Waiter comes back and says “sorry, my mistake, we pour five ounces only.” I still think my pour (like how would he really know since he didn’t measure and the pours were not even) was less but don’t want to start complaining as the company and music are perfect.
We order a zesty Caesar salad to split. It was good even though the croutons were from a box. It should be noted that this place charges $4 to split orders although that either does not count for salads or they decided not to charge us.
The shared Antipasto Platter was a different matter – it was a total disappointment. Why? Because the menu reads: Italian Cheeses, cold cuts, pickles, smoked salmon, artichokes, olives, arugula and buffalo burrata. At $16 per person (total $32 for the platter) Sounds great right?
It came with no bread. We had to ask and they brought us 4 little pieces. It came with no cheese that we can recall (remember we were not the least bit tipsy on 4 ounces of wine) except for two teensy tiny slices of mozzarella (believe me when I tell you there was no way on earth it was burrata – it was not the least bit creamy) on a slice of tomato. One slice was double the size so we had to flip a coin for fun to see which one of us would be the lucky one to have it – I won. There was a pile of arugula in the middle of the plate with a few pieces of artichoke underneath, a few of the tiniest gherkins we’ve ever seen, 4-5 regular sized green olives, two slices of smoked salmon and an assortment of rolled-up deli meats (mortadella, pepperoni, the usual where I can’t pronounce the names) but it didn’t even out with the rest of the plate.
I ask the waiter to see the menu again just to make sure there was mention of other cheese or cheeses in this case. Sure enough the first thing mentioned on the antipasto platter is Italian Cheeses (see, it’s even plural which suggests more than one kind). So I question him – where was the cheese? He tells us there was a little shaved parmesan on top of the arugula (there may have been but neither of us noticed). I asked about the burrata. He said it’s buffalo burrata. I say it’s a way of misleading customers – it’s just another word for regular mozzarella cheese – of the plainest kind. The couple sitting across from us said the same thing – “why would they write cheeses on the menu when they only give you three little pieces?” I said you got three pieces, we only got two?” They only complain to us that they’re not satisfied.
We ask for the bill. We’re still hungry but don’t want to order anything else.
Because it was obvious we were not satisfied we got a piece of dessert on the house to share – which was tasty. We laugh it off to an unpleasant experience – like something crazy out of a Seinfeld episode or Sex and the City.
We go back to my place and my friend asks if I have any food so I go into the fridge, take out some stuff and we sit on the sofa and watch an episode of a 4-part documentary series on Netflix – Chelsea Does on Racism. It lightened up our evening.
Will I go back to Blue Martini?
I really wanted to love this place. I understand that rents are high and there is no cover charge but please do not take advantage of good customers who may become regulars. I like to support live music and buy CD’s. I’m crazy enough to go back at some point, sit at the bar, order one martini and just listen to the live music….maybe.
What do you think – Am I nuts?