Last weekend, my wife and I went out to dinner, alone, sans kids…kinda like a date. We ended up at Bella Vita, an Italian restaurant located at 376 First Street in downtown Los Altos. The menu looked good, the decor was inviting and they had a reasonable corkage fee.
I gave our bottle of wine to our server to open and we ordered our food. At Bella Vita, opening a bottle of wine, well, takes effort. On her initial and second attempts to open the wine, our server broke the cork. No problem, it happens. She passed the bottle to another woman (I assume her manager) who open it and went to get a decanter. Great! We’ll soon have wine to enjoy with our meal.
My wife has stunningly beautiful blue eyes, but I have never seen them get so large. I looked to where she was looking and noticed the manager pouring our very nice bottle of wine through a cocktail napkin into the decanter. Apparently, she wanted to rid us of those pesky bits of cork from the bottle. I politely yet firmly asked that she go ahead (and stop polluting the wine) and pour the wine directly into the decanter. Which she did.
In an effort to distract us from the fact that she tried to pollute our wine with the fresh taste of cocktail napkin, she did not pay attention to where she was pouring the wine. Alas, the wine missed the decanter and landed all over the tile floor. “Oops! I guess I owe you a glass of wine” she said as I looked on. “Oops, you don’t have any wine in this restaurant that compares to the one you just poured on the floor,” I thought.
A few minutes later, the manager comes back with one glass of wine. Apparently, my wife would not be drinking wine tonight. Why not bring two glasses of wine to at least acknowledge your error. Anyway, our food arrives. I had the 14oz dry aged rib eye steak that was at least 35% fat. My wife’s meal was o.k. and the Tiramisu desert was quite good. In the end we ended up having a great time because one couldn’t have scripted the comedy of errors that happened that night. We couldn’t stop laughing. Oh, to top it off, they still charged us the $15.00 corkage fee.
Now your probably thinking, why not point out their errors and suggest that they remove the corkage fee or comp your meal etc? Valid point. However, they had done enough for me to believe that they had no idea how to create a good dining experience for their customers. I don’t know whether they didn’t understand that they really messed up or they didn’t care. Either way, the effort just wasn’t there, so why belabor the point. Besides, we still had a great time laughing at how utterly poor the service and how average the food was.