What do you do when you eat something delicious and you really want to say great things about it, but the service at the restaurant is SO AWFUL that you can’t help but have a negative reaction?
I’ll tell you what you do: share the highlights of the food first, and then explain what happened and let people draw their own conclusions.
Chantanee Thai in Bellevue (601 108th Ave. N.E., Ste. 100A) has recently become well known for their expansive bar, Naga, tended by Evan Marten. A couple years back, Chantanee moved locations from an older plaza off Main Street into one of the main office buildings in the downtown core of Bellevue. At the old location, there were literally flocks of people crowding up the lobby and lining up outside the door. What was the number one dish everyone raved about and came back for, time and again? The Crispy Garlic Chicken. Unmatched by any other ‘chicken+garlic+basil+deep fryer’ dish anywhere in the greater Seattle area, the piping hot chicken was lightly battered and covered in sticky gobs of fried minced garlic. Now, at the new location, the price of this popular dish may have gone up a tad (if memory serves) but it’s still worth it. The pieces of chicken are a little larger than they used to be, and there are less of them…not necessarily a good thing, but it’s still worth standing in line for.
Chantanee offers up fantastic combos with everything from Red Curry with fried egg noodles (seriously YUM) to Crispy Cashew Chicken with a fabulous sauce. Always served with perfect little compliments of fried crab wontons – rich and fresh with sweet syrup drizzled over the top. Their dinner offerings span a full list of sushi, Thai classics and a complete vegetarian menu as well. If there’s a bad dish to be had, we haven’t seen it yet (although there was a bland broth soup with scallions and winter melon that on the boring side of lame).
All that aside, bad service can make a great meal feel like a cold, sad plate of drive thru leftovers. Here’s what happened:
- Upon arrival as a party of three, we were not greeted by any staff member for over two minutes, even though there was no one waiting to be seated and three staff members made eye contact with us and walked past us
- When we were finally addressed by a curt girl behind the counter (and yes, she had been standing there the entire time we were waiting) she said, “I’ll be with you in a few minutes” and continued counting cash from the register
- She finally sat us, without asking how many people we had by saying “over here” or something like that – it was hard to hear her since she was already walking away from us when she said it
- She left us with the menus, and a busser filled our water glasses
- There were no other full tables in our half of the restaurant that were being served by our waitress
- Five minutes later, the same girl came back and said, “do you know what you want?” We said, “we have a couple of questions first.
- We ordered our dishes, along with one dish to go at the end of meal (we asked for it to not come out till we were ready to leave, so it’d be fresh)
- When our dishes were ready, someone else brought them out and brought us chopsticks and soy sauce. We did see our waitress after that, going back and forth between the front desk and the kitchen but she never came to our table to see how things were, or refill our water, or ask us if we were done
- About 20 minutes later, another different waitress brought us our check, again without asking if we were done. We flagged down a busser to get to-go containers
- After our check had been dropped off, our actual waitress showed up with the to-go order we had put in and dropped it off saying, “thanks, the check’s here when you’re ready.” We said, “thanks, is the check already split up, or -” and before we could complete the sentence, she slapped her hand on the check, pulled it off the table, roller her eyes, turned around and walked away
- She brought back the checks, laid them down and left. She didn’t say anything else
- We signed the checks and left.
That’s how it went down. We were so surprised at the rude, inattentive service that we took to the phones and Twitter. We called that same day and asked when the owner, Julie Chantanee, would be available. We were told the following day from 1:30 to 2:00. We left a message at that point, and called back the next day. We were told she was in a meeting. We left another message with a live person, gave our number, name and reason for calling. We’re still waiting to hear back. From anyone.
On Twitter, we searched and found @Chantanee was indeed active, sharing links and things but not responding to at least one other person who complained about the SAME SERVER BY NAME. We connected with that person; they have still not been contacted. We did get a tweetback from @Chantanee asking what happened, when we reached back to discuss, we were met with dead air.
So you be the judge: if the food is good, would you drive to a new location? Would you put up with raised prices? Would you put up with being ignored? Would you put up with RUDE service for no reason? And would you go back after never being heard, after reaching out every way you know possible?