What's with the French, Anyway? A Restaurant Experience Gone Bad.

Aside from my love for photography, I also love food. I have the love handles and the cholesterol levels to prove it. I've also been a big fan of cuisine diversity for the Bronx and there are very few, if any, French bistros in this borough, so I was excited to try Bistro SK in City Island, write a review on Yelp and deposit my two cents into the ether.

Everything about this bistro was gearing up to be a positive experience: the food was good, the Yelp reviews were uniformly 4 and 5 stars, and the owner nailed the decor perfectly. I've never been to France, but this is what I would envision a small French bistro to look and feel like. Unfortunately,  my Yelp review was less kind, and all because they committed the one unforgivable sin of poor customer service. It's a fundamental core of the restaurant experience and if you forget this, then who cares if your meal was 5 stars, or even 3, in this case? I can forgive a lot, but this one I didn't let pass.  

The Brunch menu was advertised with two price points: $10.95 with unlimited coffee or tea or $15.95 with unlimited mimosa. As long as you order from the brief list of Brunch menu items, you would be charged one or the other per person. 

My stepfather, mother and I proceeded to order coffee and orange juice, anticipating that the OJ might cost a bit extra. (The OJ, by the way, was not fresh squeezed - it was made from concentrate). The Brunch items ranged from 3 varieties of omelettes, Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame and ham and cheese crepes. Ordering within the menu, I had the Croque Monsieur which was solid, very tasty. The omelettes ordered by my family were good, but certainly nothing to rave about - their words more or less.

We also decided on a dessert, which we also expected to pay extra since it wasn't on the menu.  ($9 for a tiny ramekin of chocolate mousse, by the way). Throughout all of this, the restaurant was crowded and noisy - always a good sign. The service suffered a bit as it felt a little rushed and brusque. There was a decidedly clipped, impatient manner in which the waiter answered my stepfather's question. I didn't know it at the time, but I just discovered in my research that our waiter was the owner, Stephane Kane. Our request for a second round of coffee was ignored and we had to repeat the order.  Not ideal, but forgivable - they're having a hectic day.

Unfortunately, when we received the bill, we were charged $15.95 a person.  Calling over Stephane to question the bill, he became surly and defensive.  "You all had orange juice, didn't you?", he scowled. 

"Well, yeah, but it wasn't mimosa", I replied, trying not to adopt a confrontational tone, "so I was just wondering why we were charged extra for this".

"Well, you want me to charge you $6 for each of the orange juices you ordered?", he countered with a snap. 

$6 for a glass of orange juice from concentrate?  This isn't Manhattan. But more to the point, he handled the situation poorly.  Even if we were in the wrong, he should have adopted a diplomatic tone and explain that it was just easier to charge us each the $15.95 than separately charge us for the OJ, however overpriced it was. I was willing to amicably concede with just a simple explanation and polite attitude. 

Instead, he felt the need to shut me up - and for the time being, he did. 

...Until now that I'm writing about it. Adieu Bistro SK, je ne vais pas revenir. 


Bronx translation:




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