Alrighty then……………Mr. Seal was gracious enough to extend the invitation to share in his Russell & Bette’s.
I arrived at 5:45 while keeping my date waiting 15 minutes past our prearranged meeting time, I was happy to find him enjoying a cocktail at the bar. (I won’t mention what kind of cocktail but it did have a little umbrella in it) I was relieved that upon first inspection/impression it seemed as if they left the bar area mostly unchanged. The open kitchen still directly in front of you and the general feel of the place is still very WYB. I sat and ordered a cocktail (not one that is served with an umbrella), Seal had mentioned he was interested in a 3 course special they had, so once my cocktail was served a quick glance at my watch revealed it was 5:50pm so I mentioned, we need menus for the 3 course special we only have 10 minutes! He corrected me and said: “No we only have 5mins” quickly checking my watch to make sure it was ticking properly I then checked my phone, it was 5:50 when Seal pointed out the cut off is 5:55pm!?!?! 5:55? Really?
We decided there was nothing on the 3 course menu we wanted so we ordered of the regular menu, here is where my annoyance with the place began.
Liz the bartender while very pleasant and adequate at her job, I ordered a glass of water with my cocktail which after finishing my first glass remained empty the remainder of my time there. (I could have asked for a refill, yes but honestly with the amount of staff including a manager, someone besides Liz who was a little busy, should have an eye on things)
Similarly the cheese and crackers on the bar, by the time I arrived the cheese was fairly depleted and there were only a few pale looking crackers on the plate. I was initially pleased to see the spread able cheese although not the old port wine, still on the bar. It wasn’t until a little later did I notice a full platter down the bar that had a variety of crackers, not just the pale ones it seems my companion decided to leave for me. (thanks Seal!!) Again, there is staff upon staff including a manager standing around, pay attention refill / restock / re-water customers, back Liz up.
I’ve been around a gin joint or two and I’ve become fairly familiar with many POS systems, Russell and Bette’s uses a very old school system I haven’t seen or witnessed in years. The YO100; Liz enters an order into the system and then the kitchen staff yells: Yo Liz! Servers run food from the bar and stand at the service area of the bar and yell: Yo Liz!! Even several of the customers use the YO100 system, perhaps if I should have used the YO100 for my empty water glass!
I was served my salad Liz mentioned she held off on firing Seal’s sandwich since I was having 2 courses vs. his 1. Two minutes later a server brought his sandwich.
Wedge salad: as Seal noted I ordered the wedge salad based off of name/title alone. I did NOT read the description simply because I know what a wedge salad is. Well this wedge is a ¼ head of romaine, with Russian dressing and a very tasty nut/ bacon combination. I asked for a menu to make sure I wasn’t served someone else’s salad. When I read the description it was exactly as described, but it’s NOT a wedge salad. (shortly before being served my salad a server offered us wings and poutine we didn’t order, so I did sincerely think this might be someone else’s salad)
As Seal mentioned while his sandwich was good, the au jus soaked through the bread making it very sloppy to eat. The bread / roll seemed excellent but having it soaked made it far less enjoyable. As too were the cuts of meat, too large and thick for one bite. Thinner or smaller chunks slices would make it easier to eat.
My companion was charged full price for his happy hour special meal.
One table served in the dinning room between 5:45 – 7:30 pm.
The bar atmosphere is relatively unchanged from WFB.
The cheese and crackers, but as stated they should be replenished.
Liz, very nice and friendly.
Manager very nice and quickly sought to the check/over charge situation.
My meal: Boeuf Bourguignon
Brisket cubes slow simmered in a Zinfandel demi glace with a button mushrooms and cipollini onions served with buttered spaetzle 24
It was very good, and the spaetzle was prepared very well.
Upon leaving the manager who was very pleasant and helpful in correcting the over charge was in the parking lot smoking. Listen, I’ve been in the business, 75% of the industry smokes, I get it, I know. However it’s also obvious there is a private gated area where employees can smoke out of sight, she shouldn’t’ be in the parking lot doing such. Just my $ .02.
My initial feeling about the place seemed to be accurate. There was no reason to say you were going to keep the concept in place, while tweaking or enhancing a few things. They could have easily kept the cut to order steaks and implemented this menu, no reason to sacrifice the former to provide the later. I don’t think I’m in the minority in this opinion since in my 25+ years as a casual customer of WYB I have never in my life witnessed only 1 table served in the dining room. (Thursday night as well)
Nothing to draw me back. Do I discourage anyone from giving it a try, absolutely not and I do look forward to hearing other peoples opinions.