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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flip at Bloomingdale's

Last night I popped into Flip (a create-a-burger restaurant) inside Bloomingdale's flagship 59th Street store. (don't take me for a Bloomingdale's shopper, but sometimes they're good for basics like belts and tie bars) I'd dined there a few times before and had always been more or less 'pleased' with the food and service. But last night's experience was horrific.

I approached the unstaffed podium to be greeted by the host who was seated at the bar, watching The Travel Channel on the bar's flat screen TV. After confirming that I was "one," he escorted me to a table that looked like it had recently been the place for a six year old's birthday party. The banquette was littered with food as well as the floor, but at least my sitting perimeter was (just barely) crumb-free. I was handed the menus and as I opened one, accidentally knocked the pepper shaker onto the floor (which I'm pretty sure my server noticed). But following proper etiquette, I didn't pick it up and place it back on the table. Nonetheless, the shaker stayed on the floor, throughout the course of my meal, along with the rest of the debris. (and was never replaced--I had to ask for another, later)

Being seated, I could clearly distinguish the detritus that surrounded me on the floor. (just a sampling)

  • A stepped upon French fry--completely flattened like blackened gum on a city sidewalk
  • ⅓ of a strip of bacon
  • Ketchup drippings 
  • Crumbs of varying shapes, sizes and colors

Had Flip been a dark and cavernous restaurant, with dark wood paneling and banquettes, I may have forgiven some of the debris. But Flip's atmosphere is very "west coast" (in my opinion)--lots of light and neutral colors. So the clearly visible tableside litter was clearly not an oversight, but rather just sheer laziness (additionally, I was one of only three diners on the entire floor).

Returning attention to the menu, I decided upon creating my own burger: refined (wagyu beef), with chèvre on an onion and sage brioche bun and a side of steak fries ($5 extra). I also ordered an "individual bottle" of Saint Hilaire sparkling wine ($14) which did arrive in a timely manner, but was never offered any water, which I had to ask for later as well. My dish arrived shortly thereafter and was pleasing enough although I wish Flip offered dijon mustard instead of just yellow.

After I'd finished my burger and was about to enjoy my pickle spear, I noticed a hair on my tomato. I waited for a member of the staff to approach my table before informing: "Everything was wonderful, except for this." I pointed to the hair, not wanting to cause a scene in front of the other diners to which my server dumbly replied, "What's that?"

"There's a hair on my tomato."

(snicker) "Oh--sorry about that."

"You can take this away, I'm done with it."

The server also took my mustard, which I was still using for my fries (dished separately). I had to ask for more.

Many minutes passed before the manager (I assume) finally came over to my table and said, "I understand there was a hair in your food?"

"Yes. But I didn't say that because I wanted something taken off my check--I just wanted to let you know."

Shortly thereafter, my server returned with my check and informed me that the fries had been taken off. (appropriate enough) But, I had wanted to at least look at the dessert menu. I had to ask for that too. Later that evening I'd gotten the same upset stomach that I'd gotten the last time I ate there. I thought it was the dish I had ordered, but this time I ordered something different and still received the same end result.

Flip has really gone downhill. About a year ago, or less, I had lunch there with a friend and we ordered a bottle of champagne and received proper wine service and all... But it seems that the good staff at Flip has gone and they've taken the broom with them!
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