A few weeks ago, I attended the Decemberists concert at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium. My fellow attendees and I decided to eat dinner before the show at Loring Pasta Bar, the “upscale date night restaurant” for U of M students that weren’t yet comfortable enough with their date to tell them that they’d really be just fine eating at the Potbelly across the street.
I didn’t have many opportunities to “bring dates” places while at the U, so this was one of my first times at Loring Pasta Bar. Judging by the look of the crowd at the restaurant, many of them were there for a pre-concert appertif, too.
I got to the restaurant promptly at 6:00 to be sure to see opening act Alvvays when they started at 7:30. Several of my friends had already arrived and had secured a table and some drinks. Once the waitress showed up, I ordered a drink and proceeded to peruse the menu for my meal. We all ordered our entrees when the waitress came back sans drinks (I attempted to order the steak, but the server suggested the short ribs instead – very helpful!)
Now, dear reader, is where things start to get… weird. We had previously mentioned to our waitress that we were on a tight schedule and needed to leave by a certain time, but the service was anything but prompt. 45 minutes after ordering, we had neither food nor drinks, our water glasses had not been refilled, and though the tables around us were chowing down on bunly goodness we had not been served any pre-meal bread.
Loyal readers know how seriously we take pre-meal bread here at Fancy Dinner Club, so this development really soured my mood.
Our entrees came approximately an hour after ordering, around 7:15. At this point, all of us are starving and very thirsty, given our water had not been refilled AND WE STILL HAD NOT YET GOTTEN OUR DRINKS. You heard that right, the entrees came before the drinks did. Once the drinks finally did come, it was a jumble of cocktails assigned to the incorrect person. I drank Joe’s Nordeaster, which was a great drink, just not the one I ordered.
It’s not often that you have an awful experience at a restaurant where the food was amazing, but this was one of them. My short ribs were amazing, drenched in a beef sauce with shiitake mushrooms and mashed potatoes on the side. My fiancee Teresa ordered the Cuban sandwich which was a huge ciabatta bun piled high with pork and pastrami and garnished with pineapple relish. Others around the table enjoyed the seafood pasta, which I did not get to taste but was told was very good.
Even though the food was great, the experience was terrible thanks to the service. We pulled aside the manager after the meal explaining our disappointment at the experience – he told us he was sorry in a half-genuine tone and gave us a round of drinks off our bill, one of which we never actually ordered in the first place.
In the end, we were sated, but we missed the opening band after getting to the auditorium at 8:00. All in all, good food marred by a terrible dining experience. It really makes me appreciate the service we’ve been given at our other great FDC haunts like Spoon and Stable, Lyn65, and Taco Bell.