Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oenophile at Large: Lunching in Decatur

Just a quick note: as you may have noticed in my header, I changed the expected update frequency to 1-2 times/week. My job now requires me to carry a laptop computer all freakin' day long instead of just when I'm doing paperwork, and due to my tendonitis, I have to ration my non-work computer time. This shouldn't affect the blog too much, as I rarely posted more than once a week anyway.

Atlanta had absolutely beautiful weather this weekend, so Hubby and I decided to use our feet to get to and from downtown Decatur. It's an easy mile and a half walk for us, so it makes sense. Yesterday (Saturday), we had to get gnocchi, so we went to Sawicki's, which has an assortment of specialty items in addition to the meat and seafood, which we love as well. She also has a sandwich menu, and we decided to picnic on the square. Hubby got the Mediterranean Sandwich special, which had hummus, chicken, greens, tomato, and some other stuff that he can't remember right now. I got the Veggie special, which also had hummus, greens, tomato, and cucumber as well as aioli. Both sandwiches were really good, if a bit messy. She gave us plenty of napkins, but we didn't get plastic-ware, which would have been smart. We then got ice cream at Jake's, which is attached to Little Shop of Stories. I had the "Chocolate Slap Yo' Mama," my favorite for its chocolate with chocolate, and Hubby got the "Dancing Leprechaun," which is essentially mint chocolate chip.

Today we walked to church and decided to grab brunch on the way back at Voila. If you're not familiar with it, it's the little restaurant that's on the other side of the building that holds Watershed. Hubby and I had been there before when one of our friends was the "Chef du Jour" for a charity event, and we decided to stop back by out of curiosity. We've often walked by and seen very few, if any, people in there and wondered how they stay open. Now that we've been there, we have to wonder how they stay open. The food is good, but the service is terrible. We'd noted that on our previous visit but thought that it was because our friend, who did a great job of self-promotion, had drawn a bigger crowd than they expected. Just so you know what "terrible service" means to me, here's how our visit went:

We arrived at about 12:50 and were greeted by a waitress, who allowed us to choose our own table. We sat for about five minutes without any water or menus. Then the menus appeared (no wine list), but still no water, and even after we ordered our drinks and made sure to mention water, it didn't appear until after the coffee, which came without cream and sugar. She said she'd be "right back" with the cream and sugar. She wasn't. I had to remind her and then still wait. My coffee was lukewarm by the time it finally got seasoned. We ordered beignets for an appetizer, and they were freshly made and excellent. The server suggested we keep our silverware even after we ordered sandwiches with garlic friend potatoes that really wouldn't go well eaten with powdered-sugar encrusted forks. We waited for about twenty minutes for our sandwiches, which our server said would be "right up," and which we then saw come out carried by another server and land on the table of a family of three outside the window. The father had ordered a croque monsieur, but the salmon BLT was rejected and went back to the kitchen because it wasn't what she'd ordered. By this time, our server had disappeared with no explanation of what happened to our food, and another 20 minutes later, our lunch came out. My sandwich was warm, but not hot, and the cheese had melted and then re-solidified. It also should have come with honey mustard, which I had to ask for. Coffee and water were never refilled. Even paying the check took forever.

Some of the above could have been overlooked if the restaurant had been really busy, but it was less than half full. Also, we saw "regulars" come in and immediately get the kind of service we were missing. Frankly, I don't think it's worth the effort to become a regular. My advice for brunch in Decatur: keep on walkin'. There are plenty of great places to go for brunch without the frustration.

Atmosphere: Nice
Food: Good
Wine list: Short and mostly French
Wait staff: Incompetent
Desserts: Too frustrated by that point to try, although the beignets were really good
Vegetarian friendly? Maybe -- there are a few veggie options, mostly appetizers
Kid friendly? No kid's menu
Would I go back? No

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