Last night Kish and I went out to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. JV at a Grandview restaurant that, at one time, was among the better restaurants in the Columbus area. We hadn’t been there in a long time, and boy . . . the years have not been kind. The meal was mediocre at best, and we came away shaking our heads and thinking that we wouldn’t be surprised to hear in the near future that the place is closing.
This once-hot restaurant is heading downhill faster than a mountain biker who missed a hairpin turn.
The telltale signs were there from the beginning of the meal. First, the place was almost deserted — in contrast to its glory days, when getting a table was almost impossible. Initially, we thought it was just a late-arriving crowd, but it turned out to be a never-arriving crowd. Second, the service was indifferent. We had a perfectly pleasant young woman take our order, but she ignored us for long stretches of time — even though she didn’t have many tables to worry about. She also committed the unforgivable sin: when I specifically asked for something, she promptly forgot about it, and I had to remind her about it when she came around again after I had eaten about half of my dish. Good restaurants know that attentive service is a key part of the dining experience. This restaurant, unfortunately, just wasn’t paying attention.
And finally, the food wasn’t very good. This particular restaurant was once a kind of a foodie place, where you could anticipate getting interesting, fresh, well-prepared food. Last night, I ordered a pasta dish, and the pasta tasted like it came out of a box, the marinara sauce was bland to the point of total flavorlessness, and the meatballs tasted like they might have been frozen and thawed for the night. I finished about half of it and then decided that my taste buds had suffered enough.
I’m quite confident I won’t go back to that place, but I found myself wondering about the arc of a restaurant. What changed? Has the original restauranteur lost interest, or given up the reins to someone who thinks scrimping on the food and service is the road to profit? Whatever the reason, this restaurant looks to be in death-spiral mode. The unpleasant experience also made me appreciate restaurants that have consistently maintained high quality food, service, and ambiance over the years — like two of my favorites, G. Michael’s and Indian Oven. Fortunately for fans like me, they’ve been able to avoid the downhill arc.