Usually, both Kins and I are completely tolerant of bad service or even bad meals. We've had our share of abysmal experiences and usually when we bring this up with the establishment's staff, they don't seem to care nearly as much as they should. This weekend we chalked up not one, but two shitty situations at restaurants, but because of some slightly swift customer service, they saved two customers.
The first situation was at Mi Barrio over in the Grant Park/Cabbagetown area. I personally think they have pretty decent, cheap tacos here and I like the smaller less crowded atmosphere of the joint too. It's completely family run with what I believe is three generations working the kitchen and the dining room. It was slammed this past Friday (something I've never seen) and we even waited a couple of minutes for a table. When we were finally seated, we got our chips and salsa right away. Then we waited. And waited. Finally a not so adept server took our order. Explaining to him what we wanted was a bit of a chore (both due to language and lack of menu knowledge barriers) and I wasn't so sure he got the order right. At least 15 minutes went by when I started to try to flag down our server to ask him what was going on. He was nowhere to be found. Finally one of the higher-ups noticed we had been twiddling our thumbs for the last 20 minutes and started asking what was going on. Our server then popped up out of nowhere and acted like he remembered our order but it was backed up in the kitchen. Sadly, this was not the case. He forgot the order and after all of this, came back and re-took our requests. It was pretty pathetic and right away the nice lady who normally works the register (she was in the kitchen that night) told us that everything was on the house and apologized profusely. Additionally, the food was rather sub-par. And that's putting it nicely. But thanks to an apology and a free meal, we'll be willing to give them another chance.
The next sordid affair occurred at Holeman and Finch. I had been craving their burger and after taking a few weeks off from it, had planned get a couple to go on Sunday (my standard procedure). Frankly my experience at the restaurant was pleasant and the same as always. Sadly when I got home, my excitement ceased. They left out our sides. I drove 30 minutes round trip and half of our meal wasn't in the bag. I called immediately and spoke to the woman who took my order and she immediately knew what was wrong and apologized but wasn't exactly forthcoming with suggestions to fix the problem. I asked her to wipe the charge off of my account and without hesitation she said, "Of course. And next time you come in, tell us and we'll give you something on the house." Despite not having half of my meal, I was pretty pleased with the results of the phone conversation. What I was not pleased with was my credit card statement. They reduced the charge by the amount of the sides, but I was under the impression that the entire meal was on them. On top of that, the burger wasn't as good as it had been in the past. It was both overcooked, and more shoddily crafted - the onions were still clumped together from the bulb and not evenly distributed and the patty sizes weren't at all the same.
I think most people would find my experience at Mi Barrio a little more unforgiving, but they are a small family business and handled the problem on their own as soon as they knew about it. The H&F thing pisses me off a bit more because they didn't comp the whole meal, they're a bit more upscale, and I had to go out of my way to pick up the food.
But hey, at least they apologized which is more than I can say for a lot of other restaurants. This is why I'll return, hesitantly, to both establishments.