I Eat All the Pasta So You Don’t Have To: Carmelina’s North End

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED – this is very ranty. Hey, it’s my blog!

I had high hopes going into my dining experience at Carmelina’s in the North End. It’s one of the better reviewed places on the main drag in the North End and came highly recommended by two of my favorite people in Boston (and the world), Katie and Josh. Moreover, the Beyonce to Katie and my’s Michelle and Kelly (despite the fact that she hates Beyonce) was in town and the dinner promised to be a fun gastronomic adventure.

This lil lady in the middle! Of course she's in the middle. She's our Beyonce.

This lil lady in the middle! Of course she’s in the middle. She’s our Beyonce.

Our first hint that something was amiss at the restaurant was when we took a look at the special note in the menu…

image

…I mean, okay, you’re a fancy restaurant and that’s fine, but just a little bit sassy, no? Of particular Sasquatch note, in my humble opinion:

  • “Please refrain from asking us to add or delete any item from a dish.” Why? According to your previous little sassy blurb you are carefully and conscientiously preparing each and every dish. Is it really so difficult to refrain from putting peanuts into mine if that’s my dietary preference?
  • “We do not accept credit cards for charges under $20, cash only.” REALLY?! Come on, people. This isn’t a little taverna in Greece run by somebody’s grandma. This is a major, high class restaurant in Boston. If I can use a credit card to pay for a 75 cent stick of gum at CVS, are you really telling me I can’t use a credit card for something that’s $19?

Anyway, as I said, that’s just fine. We were shown to our table and after a nice long wait (enough time for us to select the wine and our dishes and do the whole, “awkwardly making small talk while we wait for the waiter to finally come around” dance), the waiter swung by our table and hurriedly took our orders, assuring us bread would be on the way. I’m not going to string you along, gentle readers – the bread was not, in fact, on the way.

That was the theme of the night – we received minimal to zero service at our table, despite the fact that every other table around us did. We asked for the bread literally five times, each time being told it was on the way/in the oven/just a minute. About ten minutes after we got our meals (well, three of us did), the bread finally arrived… strangely enough, not piping hot and fresh from the oven, but lukewarm at best. Strange also is that every other table around us, most of which were seated after us, received bread almost immediately after sitting down.

Of course, someone’s dinner at our table arrived about 15 minutes after everyone else’s did. If you read the sassafras message from their menu, that is only to be expected,  capice? But you have to admit — 15 minutes (more than enough time for everyone else to finish their meal) is a bit much, especially considering she ordered the same thing someone else at the table did.

The icing on the cake was that at no point did anyone come around to refill our water or ask if we needed anything (which we did). After begging them for our check (to be fair to them, they did take the late meal off the check), the coup de grace was finding out they can only split the check on two cards – which apparently isn’t even true, as by that point we engaged in a conversation with the manager about our dissatisfaction and he told us that we were lying and could split the check on three cards (perhaps tell your staff that…?).

I was, most of all, SHOCKED by how they treated our concerns. They were rude and dismissive, stating that it was busy. I understand that, but if you cannot handle that amount of clientele, don’t seat that amount.  I was so shocked when, after the manager listened to our concerns, we could see him and his staff LOUDLY complaining about us and then he just threw the check back to us without another word. I didn’t want a gift certificate or something, but at least a polite if insincere, “I’m so sorry for your experience and I hope we can see you soon” would be normal human behavior – particularly when you are paying $16+ per entree, not to mention alcohol and extras.

Needless to say, I shan’t be dining here again. I took my complaint to Twitter and the Executive Chef Damien engaged in some back-and-forth with me, but never followed up with an email as he promised. Luckily for me, there are about fifteen thousand other places that serve exactly the same food. The hunt continues!

Thankfully, we got a lobster tail at Mike’s after, and all was right in the world.

581247_753904866656_112588251_n

Advertisements

My Weekend at Home

I recently spent a weekend at what I secretly consider to be my “home” in Boston. Yes, I have my own home (both the one I physically live in now and the one my parents inhabit), but we all have those places that we consider to be our comfortable little oases that allow us to escape from real life for a bit. I absolutely consider my house in Virginia to be one of those oases, and I recently bumped up the house of my good friends here to be another.

This will probably surprise them since I haven’t told them how much I adore being at their house, but it is the perfect mix of physical comfort and emotional support for me (both the house and the people within it). When I first arrived to Boston, this was the house that I slept in for my initial three weeks. And it is a wonderful place to start: gorgeous, sun-drenched apartment with a balcony and all the comforts of home (including CABLE! A rarity for twenty-somethings). I loved coming back to the serenity of their home, talking with them about my day and sitting down in front of the TV to watch Jeopardy. It immediately felt comfortable, and comforting to someone in the turmoil of a transition. I am exceptionally fortunate to have two wonderful friends of mine living there.

Alas, it is apparently not really acceptable for someone not involved in the relationship to live with a married couple. Even though we make an exceptional team. And so I reluctantly moved to a sublet in August (and had a meltdown a few days later in the middle of Boston Common, partially due to leaving my paradise), and then to my leased apartment in September. But due to a fortuitous series of circumstances, I found myself back at my little slice of heaven with two of my favorite people for the weekend sandwiched in between my August and September place. It was a bit of a stayvacation: I enjoyed a delicious meal of beef bourguignon, indulged in an IKEA shopping trip with Katie, and treated my hosts to a wine and cheese party. (This was entirely done because I decided I wanted to be fancy and have a wine and cheese party a la the incomparable Mo at Mocadeaux, and they were the only friends I could think of who would indulge me. And have cheese knives. That I gave them for their wedding.)

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

Not to brag, but this is why you should come visit me.

And so on that Sunday I once again packed up my belongings to move to a new house, away from my “home.” Luckily, I’m less than ten minutes walking away from my oasis. You can bet I will be there often to enjoy the calm and the company of my favorites.

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?

It almost looks like they are toasting their concocting an evil plan, does it not?