Saturday, March 31, 2012

Problematic Pasta & Successful Second Chances

I like food.

I bet you do, too. Maybe not as much as I do, but that's a discussion for another day. Today, I want to tell you about how much I also like writing reviews of my food experience. (I almost wrote "my food-eating experiences," but that seemed too strange, even for me, which is rare.)

In January, I decided to check out The Kitchen, a new-ish cafe down the road from my apartment. After much vacillating about what to order, I went with one of the pasta dishes: spiral pasta with roasted tomatoes, melted cheese, spinach, & prosciutto. I paid my $9 & got it to go... & it was, hands down, one of the worst dishes I've ever had in my life. Sour, vinegar-y, such that it almost tasted rancid. I ate three bites & threw all $9 of it away & went for a Lean Cuisine instead. I proceeded to write a two-star Yelp review about my experience, & that was that. I vowed, of course, never to eat that dish again.

Until...

While I was in Israel, I received an email from one of the restaurant's two chefs, who implored me to give The Kitchen another shot. Upset by my bad experience, he explained that the dish I ordered is one of their most popular, & that it's always been successful at events. "We did you wrong and we need you to have a better taste in your mouth about us," he wrote. "Excuse the pun!" He'd already almost convinced me, & that line sealed the deal. I will not excuse the pun because I really like puns. Plus, it's a rarity for a business to reach out to social media folk in such a polite, friendly manner following negative press, so despite my not-so-tasty first try at The Kitchen, I decided to give it another go. The chef kindly offered to comp me my meal whenever I made it back in, but because a paid meal makes for the most honest review, I didn't tell him I was coming.

I ordered the same thing, but this time, I got it to stay - & it was really good. Everything was fresh, the portion was huge, & the flavors went together well. This is, of course, not to discount my initial experience, because everything I said stood true at the time, but I'm pleased that I gave the dish - and the restaurant - another try. Everyone has bad days, & maybe some dishes don't translate as well into to-go containers! I even approached Mike & staff after my meal, & they were super-nice; I promptly returned home to write a second-chance review.

Food aside, it says something about a restaurant's integrity when they reach out to a lowly blogger after a less-than-perfect experience. While the end goal may simply be better reviews, the friendliness & depth of Mike's email convinced me that The Kitchen deserved one more shot, & my meal today convinced me that it deserves more shots beyond that. I'll definitely be back, & I look forward to checking out the rest of their menu.

Businesses, take note: The Kitchen's doing it right.
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