I'm very sorry about your experience at my restaurant on Saturday night. As a seasoned chef and restauranteur, I am accutely aware that all of my guests arrive expecting to eat fantastic food, have a great time and leave fully sated and happy. My goal is to satisfy every guest that dines with us whether they are having a few drinks or Eating The Whole Menu. I take all of my customer's feedback, positive and negative, very seriously and I respond to all feedback personally after I discuss the issue with my staff.
With this said, I must certainly apologize for the miscommunication generated by the server at your table. She misrepresented the Eat The Whole Menu at The Bent Brick which unfortunately ruined for you what has historically been an epically great experience for all of the guests who have ordered it. Apparently your server led you to believe that we strongly encourage large parties to Eat The Whole Menu. This is not the the point that should have been communicated. We like our customers to order however they wish to order. It's certainly fun for large parties to Eat The Whole menu but how our customers enjoy our menu is entirely up to them.
It is very unfortunate that your server stated that there was no manager on duty when you requested to speak to one. We always keep 2 managers on duty at all times, one in the kitchen and one on the floor. There were, in fact 2 managers present when you left on Saturday. Her lack of communication on theses two points are egregious indeed, and will be addressed.
We have trained our waitstaff to let our customers know that the Eat The Whole Menu is our version of what would normally be a "grand tasting menu" at high end restaurants. It consists of 5 to 6 amuse, 10 courses and 3 desserts. It is a big experience in that it involves eating more than 12 ounces of food and it typically takes 2 hours for 2 people to eat at a relaxed pace and 3 plus hours for 6 or more people. This equates to 1 course every 7 to 10 minutes. We think that this is the proper pace for a night out to dinner. We believe that if you are at The Bent Brick to Eat The Whole Menu it is our obligation to let you enjoy it. If you want it expedited we will happily do it but there is a limit to how fast most non-competitive eaters can injest their food.
As it clearly states on the menu, ($55 each, 10% of which gets donated to Blanchett House) it is designed so that everyone at the table gets one menu. The value perception on the Eat The Whole Menu has been so positive that most of the people who get it the first time return to eat it again. . . except that they want to split the menu amongst 2 or more people when they return. This is a fair request and we like to try to do everything we can to accomodate our guests. Unfortunately, accomodating this request can sometimes cause undo problems.
Your table contained 8 guests; 2 people ordered a la cart and the other 6 people split 3 tasting menus. At $55 per tasting menu that equates to $27.50 per person. Yes, this is real money and we don't want to be responsible for it being mis-spent at The Bent Brick. But this is not $55 per person. This is $27.50 and it is what you would typically spend on 2 and a half appetizers at any decent restauant in Portland. Some large parties split Eat The Whole Menu in order to sample our entire menu and reorder the dishes they want more of. Judging from your reaction you were too displeased at the portion size of the split dishes to consider reordering. Possibly, you chose to split the Eat The Whole Menu among your table to save money. This is a valid move but you should not have been lead to believe that you would get full in doing this.
It is unfortunate that you came in to The Bent Brick expecting us to comp your corkage because one of your party made the wine they brought in. We don't expect, and rarely receive, free wine or services from wineries we don't know. You shouldn't expect free services from unfamiliar parties either. We have very many close contacts with local winemakers. We have built our wine program around those relationships. We treat these winemakers as our friends and family and they return to The Bent Brick frequently to taste their wines on our draft system. You can talk to any of the fantastic local winemakers who have engaged us about our keg wine system and they will tell you volumes about how well we treat them when they come to The Bent Brick. But, it is impolite and disrespectful to walk in to a restaurant that you are unfamiliar with and expect them to give away services.
I do sincerely apologize that your server on Saturday did not communicate clearly with you how the Eat The Whole Menu should have been applied to your party. That mistake ruined what should have been a fun and enjoyable evening for you. I appreciate your feedback on this and it will be used constuctively. I assure you that I will address how this particular issue gets handled in the future so that our efforts to accomodate our guest will end up pleasing them. I know that we probably won't be seeing you again at The Bent Brick but your feedback will be used to improve our service in the future. I hope that you will put this response, unedited, on your blog. I will put this exchange on the Bent Brick blog so that our followers can see how we are trying to improve their experience night in and night out.
*This post is unedited