Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poor Service At Franchia Compromises the Experience of the Delicious Food

When we arrived at Franchia, we were barely acknowledged before the unsmiling "host" sprinted up the steps ahead of us, tossed our menus onto a table, and passed us in the opposite direction as we were still making our way behind him.  It was not a good way to start off a meal we had been looking forward to, after having had such a divine experience at Hangawi.  In addition to the nonexistent welcome, he had inexplicably stuffed us in the farthest corner of the third tier of seating next to a large group, even though the ground level was empty and there was still a table or two available on the busy, second level.  Not wanting to take it too personally or start off on the wrong foot, we decided to stay put.

But, after fifteen minutes passed without anyone returning to take our drink order, we decided to relocate ourselves.  As we made our way down the stairs with our menus, the "host" peered up at us from the first level, seemingly disgusted that we hadn't stayed where he had hidden put us.  I told him that we preferred to sit on the first level and he gestured that we should seat ourselves...beside another table that had come in since we had and were already enjoying tea! 

Lucky for us, Mr. Smiley the host turned out to be our server as well.  He eventually came over and was completely disinterested in engaging in a conversation about the available beverages, even though both water cups he had placed on the table were immediately deemed off-limits because they contained some kind of unidentifiable crusted and/or floating matter that he should have noticed.  So, we placed the water aside, chose two cocktails at random, and began to peruse the food menu. 

Our drinks arrived and they were both served beautifully with fresh orchid garnish.  The Pink Moon was made of Shissandra, lime, and Soju; the Kamasutra contained pomegranete tea, grapefruite juice and Soju.  Both were pleasant, but extremely mild: neither tasted alcoholic.  We think Mr. Smiley, who also prepared the cocktails, merely showed the Soju to the cocktail glass rather than having properly introduced them.  I don't care for strong drinks, but these may as well have been juice.

For no apparent reason, Mr. Smiley decided to serve our appetizers and salads all at once.  This made the table quite cramped and prevented us from focusing separately on each delicious course.  Despite this easily avoidable faux pas, everything was exquisite.

The combination pancakes (corn, scallion, and kimchi) were slightly different than the same flavors at Hangawi and the dipping sauce was considerably more flavorful: filled with leeks and sesame seeds.  All were fantastic, but the kimchi variety was our favorite as it had a discernable spice.  The scallion was also yummy: bursting with scallions, and the corn a nice and mild contrast.  We agreed that it would be difficult to pick just one flavor to order.

I decided to try the steamed buns with crispy duck because whenever my Dad orders real duck (scowl) I'm always intrigued by those little white pancakes.  Well, I am happy to report that they are delicious.  I don't know what duck tastes like, but the fact of the matter is that they could have called what was in that bun faux anything and it still would have been delicious: crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and accented with crisp veggies and a delicious plum sauce: highly recommended.

The asparagus and avocado salad consisted of crisp romaine generously topped with carrot ginger dressing.  It was chock full of fresh avocado and the asparagus was nice and crispy, but I did wonder what they do with all of the heads?

One of my favorite things at Hangawi and Franchia is the complimentary kimchi. I have always been served one complete, dense roll of each variety-- standard and spicy, on separate plates. Imagine my surprise when, on this visit, we were served a smidgen of each nestled next to each other on the same tiny plate: I estimate that it about 75% less than the usual amount.  I was so flabbergasted that I didn't even remember to take a picture.

For dinner we skipped the delicious crispy mushrooms in sweet and sour sauce and instead tried the spicy Franchia noodles.  Although the garnish contained a couple of dried chilies to put you in the mindset, this dish was not at all spicy, but delicious.  Tasting like a non-oily Lo Mein, the noodles were delicately flavored and mixed with assorted vegetables, bean sprouts, and crunchy peanuts.

We also chose the avocado bibimbap, which I take full responsibility for having mistaken for Hangawi's avocado stone bowl rice.  The bibimbap was good, but lukewarm (is that how it's supposed to be?).  We had both been looking forward to the steaming hot, crispy rice kernals of the stone bowl rice, but the contents of the bibimbap were neither hot nor crispy.  However, it was filled with fresh produce and the tofu was prepared the way I like it to be in cold dishes: firm and dense.  Had I not been expecting something else I surely would have no complaints about this dish.  Hearty and definitely a good choice in the warmer weather, but give me the crispy rice stone bowl any day!

Because the experience with our server never improved we decided to forego dessert.  And, just as there had been no welcome, there was also no thank you.  So, while the food was outstanding, we both agreed that we would sooner return to the slightly higher prices and nicer atmosphere of Hangawi rather than risk the severely unfriendly service we experienced at Franchia, which spoiled our otherwise phenomenal meal.  Luckily, as we exited another server thanked us: allowing us to leave on a good note.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have you got something to say? It would be so nice to hear from you!
(I know captchas suck, but not as much as spam.)