We’ve eaten at Rover’s twice and each time I’ve been disappointed for different reasons. I should back up and say that Rover’s is almost universally saluted as one of the best, if not THE best Seattle restaurant. It’s always ranked in the top two or three spots by Seattle Zagat. There is no doubt that the restaurant and the food is extraordinary. But for a dining establishment of such a reputation I expect more than I’ve experienced on my two visits.
We saved up for our first meal at Rover’s going there for my birthday a few years ago. While the restaurant’s entrance is under a dreary mall-type overhang, the room, however, is warm, elegant and inviting. As I wrote above, the food was impeccable–well sauced, subtle and delicious. However, the waiter (who I believe also was the matre d’hotel) made an unforgiveable mistake. We ordered the Chef’s table 5-course meal. He forgot to bring the fish course! So, after bringing us the meat course, we began to wonder why we’d missed the fish course. We asked him about this and he replied that we had to be mistaken and that he was certain that it had been served to us. Imagine that…trying to tell two diners that they’ve eaten something they were never served! It was really quite something. He went away to find out what was going on and…never came back. Didn’t say a word to us for 30 miinutes or so.
Now, you have to understand that I am, in some ways, a New Yorker through and through. If you try to pull a fast one on me in a business transaction I will get steamed and let you know about it. So I was STEAMING that night. Then, just before I was about to get up and complain to the chef…two glasses of the most wonderful dessert wines arrived at our table. Once we tasted them (“Like buttah, my wife exclaimed) my fury subsided somewhat. But obviously it was not dissipated because I remember what happened to this day (five years later).
So I thought we should give Rover’s another try since any restaurant can make a mistake once and should be forgiven for it. We went in high summer and it was lovely. The restaurant had expanded and now sat diners on a gorgeous sunny patio surrounded by towering trees.
But this time we found the service AND food disappointing. There was a choice between a seven and five-course menu. Naturally, the most elaborate and expensive dishes were on the seven course menu. I found the five course menu to be pretty standard and boring fare. So I thought I’d test out the service and asked if it might be possible to substitute an entree fr. the 7 course menu but serve it with my five course meal. I told the waiter that I would pay a premium above the price of the five course meal. The waiter responded with a chilly “No” (or should I say ‘non’?). As we sat at our table ‘in the deep freeze,” we watched as a procession of senior staff (chef, sommelier, maitre d’) made pilgrimages to well heeled diners at a neighboring table. We knew where we stood on the restaurant pecking order.
The 5-course menu contained a bland vegetarian dish, a chicken presentation & dessert which was less than totally satisfying. Rover’s can be disappointing.
2808 E. Madison St. (28th Ave.)
Seattle, WA, 98112
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