Cafe Madison [for the last time]

I had not ever dined at Cafe Madison until this year. Earlier in the year, Cassie began recommending it, and we went and enjoyed brunch on quite a few weekends. At a certain point in the summer, the quality of service and food dwindled away. It prompted Cassie to blog an open letter to Cafe Madison to express her own personal disappointment with this diminished quality. I added my two cents to that post just to clarify how bad things really were. As Cassie indicated in her post, she was taking a break from the establishment and would revisit one day.

That one day was this past Sunday (sooner than I had expected), and happened to be her birthday.

Pay attention…

We arrived at 10:04 am, and were informed of a 25-30 minute wait. We decided to wait and stood in the small area in front of the restaurant. A family of three indicated to us that we should put our names down if we wanted a table. We told them that we did, and they were seated not long after this. At approximately 10:20 am (significantly less than the total wait time originally given), we were seated. This family of three was seated adjacent to our table. The waiter immediately approached the table and asked what we wanted to drink. Only, he didn’t just ask us what we wanted to drink; he made this gesture like he was shooting a basketball into our empty coffee mugs. Ok, I can understand having a little personality.

When he delivered my soda, we placed our orders. The time was 10:24 am. Cassie ordered one of the specials on the front page, apple walnut French toast with a side of home fries. I ordered corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and a short stack of plain pancakes.

[Aside: if you could not notice, we ordered a lot of food. We were both very hungry the morning after our Finger Lakes Wine Tour, and this will be explored further in a future post]

If you follow my chain of comments on Kristi’s recent relevant post, once I place my order, it’s all over. The time is ticking, and things better be prompt. Especially when it comes to breakfast items, which are all basically short order.

After two trips of servers topping off Cassie’s coffee, I started analyzing the situation. The family next to us were getting up to leave. Each time our server exited the kitchen, the look of disdain on his face that our table was not yet served was obvious. The time was 11:01 am. Our server emerges from the kitchen one last time with three plates. He places Cassie’s meal in front of her, and my meal in front of me, then walks away with my pancakes. I say, “that’s mine too.” He responds, “ohh yea” and makes a goof ball face, at which point I thought it was appropriate to notify him that I noticed it had been approximately 40 minutes since ordering breakfast. I actually said, “after 40 minutes, I would hope that would be mine.”

Now, if you are in a service industry and I get to decide your compensation based on your service, NEVER ARGUE WITH ME. The server made a mistake. He argued with me. His response was, “i don’t know if it’s been 40 minutes but” and I don’t remember anything else that he said. I don’t know why you’d argue with me when you were visibly noticing the same exact thing.

Nevermind that my corned beef hash was burnt. or that my pancakes came out with blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberries, and oatmeal (it was disgusting). At that point I wanted to get out of there and quickly. We ate our meals and were given the check. $26.18. I remember taking out a twenty, a five, and a quarter and asking Cassie for a dollar. At the end of it all, I was the better man and replaced the dollar with a five.

That guy didn’t even deserve the seven cents.

Good bye and Good Riddance. Cafe Madison. I work for my money, and I won’t give you or your terrible staff any more of my money.

MORE derryX Dines!


10 thoughts on “Cafe Madison [for the last time]

  • Chris

    As a diner of Cafe Madison, I must say you are spot on. There food is very hit or miss and not what anybody would call a socializing location. It’s a cafe in name only. I’ll go there for lunch but their breakfast is always dissapointing.

  • supergirl

    hmmm. while i agree that your server should have been much more apologetic about the wait time, and definitely not argued (customer is always right!), based on this one sentence: “Each time our server exited the kitchen, the look of disdain on his face that our table was not yet served was obvious.” i have to wonder if it was the server’s fault or the kitchens. ultimately it’s frustrating and i can see you not wanting to go back, but just a thought.
    btw, how the hell did you get up and ready by 10:30 that sunday?

    • derryX

      I’m almost 100% positive the kitchen was to blame, especially from his reaction every time he came out of the kitchen. But I don’t understand why you would argue with me if my compensation to you depends (ultimately) on how you deal with the situation…

      Wine Tour dinner was a completely different disaster for me (you’ll read that one soon, remember we sat at different tables), and we woke up completely starving on Sunday morning. Plus, it was Cassie’s birthday and I woke her up to open her presents. 🙂

  • Darth

    Besides the fact I think you stare at your watch way too much when dining . . . some restaurants do take their time serving so that the guests can engage in conversation.

    Generally my rule of thumb is that if i’m at a theme restaurant – Friday’s, Chilis, Applebees, etc. . . . I expect quick service. They are basically a step up from Fast Food.

    But when I go to a “nice” sit-down restaurant, I expect a bit of time taken when serving me. I generally go to engage with people i’m with, so I don’t mind waiting because it gives me time to be social and have good conversation. Should I be in a rush, I tell the waiter or waitress when I order so they know i’m in a rush. Otherwise, I feel I have no right to hold the serving time against them.

    The prime example is the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was rather “nice.” It took about 25 minutes for my Cobb Salad to be brought to my table after ordering – and that was the appetizer. The dinner was served well over an hour after ordering.

    Kate & I were getting antsy because this was obviously killing time we could be spending in the park riding things, or waiting on line to ride things. However, the mistake was my own since I did not tell the waiter we were in a rush.

    Most Disney restaurants were rather quick, probably assuming people wanted to spend maximum time in the parks and not eating. The Hollywood Brown Derby’s philosophy must have been different. But I did not penalize the waiter, since his service was excellent, as was the food.

    • derryX

      I buried a lot of subtext in that blog post.

      To debunk your theory that this place wanted us to stick around for a while:
      Exhibit A: the family of 3 had dined and left before we even got our food.
      Exhibit B: the line into the restaurant was out the door when we left, indicating a 45 minute to 1 hour wait. [They only serve brunch for so long…]
      Exhibit C: the servers were frustrated that the orders were taking so long.

      Yes, there are places that extend the dining experience to provide a relaxing environment, and I’ve dined at many such places. But this was a high throughput situation, and it wasn’t the first time they dropped the ball, so I’m done with them…

      The times were actually acquired from various cues on my cell phone. Tweets, facebook comments, etc. I do not actually wear a watch on the weekend. (Fun derryX Fact)

  • -R.

    I’ve never been for breakfast or lunch (nor do I have the desire for either) but my dinners there have ALWAYS been exquisite and the chef has a wonderful touch. It remains one of my favorite kitchens in the Capital Region. Given what I’ve heard over the years, brunch there is best avoided as it becomes more akin to a diner than a restaurant. Perhaps Denny’s would be a better alternative…

  • Ryan

    I’m sure the restaurant is devastated and you will be sorely missed.

    Sounds like many other people cannot stand the horrible service or the extreme wait for food, as indicated by the 45 min – 1 hr wait to be seated.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge proponent of a server checking in with you to keep you updated on why food is taking so long, but the place sounds small and very popular, so its probably understood that its not Mickey Ds.

    Glad you didn’t stiff the waiter. The chef still got paid.

    • derryX

      I don’t know you, but I’m having difficulty interpreting your tone.

      The reason why we actually went was because we wanted the quality we experienced there in the past and didn’t want McD’s level of quality and service. It wasn’t exactly our first trip to the restaurant…

      If the server didn’t make it obvious that he was just as frustrated as we were with the wait, I would have probably focused more on how inedibly burnt my corned beef hash was, or why my plain pancakes came tainted with trace amounts of every other pancake filling on the menu.

      And while everybody did get their money at the end of the day, persistent reviews on the internet will only help educate people. I find things like this useful because there are many other places to try. Such a review would certainly steer me away as a potential diner. And even if my voice only reaches one other person, that’s one less person to eat there. I don’t care if the restaurant is devistated or not. or if I’m sorely missed or not. As long as I have my say after a sub-standard experience, I’m satisfied.


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