Church & State

Photo snagged from Gastronomnom

Last night I had dinner at Church & State, a bistro at the southeast end of downtown which is located beneath the Biscuit Company Lofts. I’ve been in the neighborhood before, eating at Royal Claytons or scoping out Secret Service, so I had seen how cool it looked and put it on my list of restaurants to try. When eating out I tend to break my eating experience into two distinct categories, food and service.

Since I began reading Monocle I’ve becoming mildly obsessed with service, though I think I’m rather easy to please. Watch my table but don’t bug me unless you can see I need something, keep my water/drink filled, be polite and act like you give a damn. These are simple things to do in my mind, be there when I need you but otherwise leave me to chat with my boyfriend. I feel like I needed to get that out of the way to say that the food at Church & State was pretty amazing, but the service left a lot to be desired.

Kyle and I ordered the marinated octopus with fingerling potatoes as a starter, and for dinner I had the pork chop with sausage and red cabbage and he had the bouillabaisse. I think the octopus was my favorite, it was rich in flavor and came with two pieces of bread to eat it with. The sauce was made with capers and some other yummies and paired with the potatoes, it was a great way to start the meal. The pork chop ended up coming with a half piece of sausage cut in half and smaller pieces of bacon that made a great compliment with the red cabbage. I’ve never had a pork chop that was cooked so perfectly. Kyle really enjoyed his bouillabaisse, it had two big shrimp, mussels and clams in it. It was too fishy for my taste but he ate the whole thing. They also had fresh baked bread that was perfect and the drinks we had were tasty as well. The food was pretty much amazing.

But unfortunately as I said earlier, the service was severely lacking. When we sat down our server was a French man, who’s nationality I only bring up to try and explain why he was so lacking in any kind of pleasantries. It essentially felt like he walked up to us and asked, “So what do you want?”… I was pretty put off right away. Then there were the little things. He filled up the water glasses of the large table next to us but didn’t bother to turn around and fill ours. They weren’t refilled for about 10 minutes after that, despite the many other bus boys and waiters passing by. We ate all of our bread and a bus boy came around and asked if we’d like more. We said yes, we could have eaten an entire baguette, but he never came back to give us more. We were drinking our yummy cocktails but I finished mine rather quickly, it was the size of a martini. Our waiter never came by to ask if we wanted more, though a random host came by and asked us if we needed another. What’s worse is we eventually had to tell our waiter that the host got us more drinks but he had no idea of that fact. Eventually they came at the end of our meal.

To me, these are all important details, especially because the bill ended up being $125 all said and done. If I were at Red Lobster and had this kind of service, then sure, you get what you pay for. But personally I feel like a restaurant as nice as Church & State should be held to a higher standard. I told Kyle that I wish my tip could have gone to the kitchen staff for making such an amazing meal. If you want a great meal I highly suggest Church & State, but be warned, the service may not be the best.


October 19, 2010