Monday, November 12, 2012

WineStyles, Bothell, WA – VERY Disappointed

I recently purchased a Groupon offer. (I had scheduled the day off from work following the fantastic Jimmy Buffett concert and I wanted to continue the party…)

The Groupon offer was for WineStyles in Bothell and included a four-course prix fixe lunch for two for $20.00. How could I miss with lunch for two for $20.00? Well, I missed big time when going to WineStyles.

Mike and I arrived around 1:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon and there was just one other couple seated in the dining area. We took a table next to them. Soon enough our waiter came and he gave us special Groupon menus that explained the offer which included a salmon spread/cracker appetizer, bread, two chocolates, and entrée for each of us. We scanned the menu and noticed that House Wine was listed for $5.00 per glass. We attempted to order the house white or chardonnay and were advised that WineStyles does not offer house wine. ?? We ended up each getting a Pinot Grigio that we presumed was served as a house wine offering.

The salmon spread/cracker appetizer was delivered and our waiter enthusiastically explained that it was FRESH salmon. But he had no other information about the spread – which, by the way, was about two tablespoons of spread served with about 10 crackers – OUCH at $8.00 on the regular menu.

Unfortunately, our waiter did not bring water to our table and we had no silverware or napkins. Chef Anne appeared in the dining room and brought bread with olive oil/balsamic vinegar and she encouraged us to use our bread plates. We still had no silverware or napkins.

A third party of two sat at another table and they were served water. And then our waiter also provided water to the first party of two that were sitting next to us. We never received water.

We selected a chopped salad and an Italian baguette for our entrees and soon enough they were delivered to our table. And we received rollups – silverware rolled in a napkin. Yeah! The food was nothing special and the sandwich was small with a side salad in a monkey dish. Wow. Do you know how small a monkey dish is? And $8.00 for half a sandwich?

With our entrees, Mike ordered another glass of white wine and I asked to try a red. Our waiter brought me a Montepulciano de Aburzzo – but the bottle didn’t have a full portion so he apologized and offered to serve me another ½ glass of another red wine when I was done with that. And he followed through with a totally different ½ glass of red wine. Geez. Why would he offer any wine when he didn’t even have a full glass available?

Midway through our entrees our waiter placed our guest check on our table. What? We were still eating! Our waiter was a bit flustered as he dealt with two wine salesmen who dropped off wine and seemed to totally forget that he still had three tables eating lunch.

We saw Chef Anne walk through the dining area with a tray of chocolates. Hmmm…could those be for us? I finally called Chef Anne to our table and asked if we could please get our “desserts.” She happily brought us two of the fresh chocolates, but totally missed the opportunity to describe for us what the chocolates were! I could not believe that a chef did not want to brag about her dessert – and educate her guests.

We finally opened the guest check holder and were SHOCKED by the paper on top of the check that was all about the TIP. It explained that if we didn’t add the tip manually on this piece of “homemade” paper, they wouldn’t be able to add it to our credit card. HUH? It was quite abrasive to see that “notice” before we had even see the total of the check.

Seque to my next annoying point. We had four glasses of wine with lunch and they were each rung up at $7.99. Really? We asked for house wine. If our waiter was serving us wine priced differently, he should have told us. Our check came to $31.96. We added a $6.00 tip (on the TIP paper) which brought the total to $37.96. AND THEN tax was added on top of that (meaning our tip was taxed!), bringing the total to $41.00.

We are beyond unsatisfied. We spent $61.00 on a mediocre meal with horrendous service. HUGE THUMBS DOWN ON WINESTYLES IN BOTHELL.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jimmy Buffett Lounging at the Lagoon

  On October 23, 2012 Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band finally made their way back to Seattle.

We’d been waiting nine years for their return to our neck of the woods. When I heard tickets were going on sale in September there was no question that we had to be there.

And why is that, you may ask? It’s because Jimmy Buffett and his music represent a state of mind – a happy, jolly, carefree state of mind. He is a prolific storyteller and his stories are about sailing, flying, family, partying, and living a crazy life in Key West, Florida.

I first heard of Jimmy Buffet when I spent a year in south Florida as a 19-year old beach bum. Jimmy’s fifth album, A1A, had just been released in December 1974. It’s been called “gulf and western” music. A little bit twangy, but it also includes the infamous “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” which remains a Jimmy Buffett classic. Wiki says, “The song contains the bittersweet confession of a modern-day pirate [insert = drugs] as he looks back on the first 40 years of his life and ponders his future.”

Over the years Jimmy Buffett has recorded about an album (yeah, I still call ‘em that…can’t get over it) a year and he has written several books. Whenever I heard he was coming to town to do a show I had to be there.

Two weeks ago we were not disappointed. We put on our “land shark” visors, leis and Hawaiian shirts and headed to Key Arena. The mood was whimsical with all things tropical, including many “parrot head” hats (Google it), beach balls, hula skirts and coconut bras. The stage resembled a lagoon and the screen behind the band played a video of mermaids swimming around with Jimmy.
And the music. An 11-piece band, including two female back-up singers, and of course, Mr. Jimmy Buffett dressed in a t-shirt and shorts with his proverbial bare feet. I can’t tell you how big my smile was when he walked on stage.

I can’t name all the songs in the set list, but they were mostly old favorites that I have been singing for the last 35 years or so. Jimmy’s music appeals to many age groups – I wasn’t surprised to see the twenty-something woman right in front of me singing along through the whole show too.

For over two hours Mike and I enjoyed “island escapism” and we loved it! Next time we hope he plays at the Gorge and I might even wear my hula skirt and coconut bra. But for now I’m headed to Margaritaville for a Land Shark Beer and singing… “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane!”