I’ve been on a real Top Chef binge lately.
All of the seasons are on Hulu and it’s the perfect background show. Drama! Suspense! Foie gras! I’d already seen most of seasons, but it’s been fun to go back and watch from the beginning. It’s shocking how dated the hair, clothes and food are back in the early seasons.
Since I’m a stranger in a strange land and I don’t have many friends yet, Padma and Tom have kinda sorta been my friends. (Oh my god, that sounds so sad.) (How do people make friends as adults?) (Seriously, though…how do you do it?)
My favorite season by far was season 8, Top Chef All-Stars. It was Top Chef turnt up. All your favorite competitors who didn’t win vying for the title! Bigger challenges! Tears! Family connections! Cookie Monster! Hoodie hoos! It was everything and everyone you wanted to watch.
Including the one and only Mike Isabella. I actually hadn’t seen his original season ’til recently, but Mike is one of the best people to watch. His food always looks stupendous–typically Mediterraean inspired, but he’s Italian American and his Italian dishes got him some high praise. Also, he’s got the best laugh–just seems like a really fun, happy dude. So you’ll have to imagine my excitement when I found out he has a restaurant here in Richmond. Mike opened the first Graffiato in DC in 2011 and the Richmond chapter just a month ago. And with my friends Emily and Paul coming up to town for a wedding last weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to try it.
I just watched an episode of Restaurant Wars and something that my best friend Tom said was sticking in my head. “People come to a restaurant for the food, but they return for the service.” It’s very true. And unfortunately, that quote speaks to my experience at Graffiato.
The dishes ranged from ok (American pie pizza) to extraordinary (kabocha squash casonsei). The concept is family/tapas style with Italian and mediterranean influences. Dishes are meant to be shared, and that part is pretty successful.
But the service. Oy, the service. Our waitress had a good attitude, but ordering was difficult.
Emily: I’d like the Hoptober.*
Waitress: Oh, I actually think we’re out of that.
Emily: Ok, I’ll have the 8 Point IPA.*
Waitress: Oh. We’re actually out of that too.
::Emily looks at menu to make another decision.::
Me: I’d like the ‘Put Me in the Mix’ cocktail.
Waitress: …I’m sorry…we’re actually out of that, too. Sorry, we’re actually switching over our menus right now.
Me: Ok, do you have a glass of sauvignon blanc?
Waitress: Yes, we do.
Me: Great, I’ll have that. Anything else you’re out of?
Waitress: No, I think that’s it.
*The names of the beer have been changed because I forgot what they were.
I understand that restaurants change their menus, but I’d find it a much more tolerable offense if we’d been warned in advance. That plus the fact that one of our drinks came out after we’d gotten the check meant I walked away disappointed with the experience.
I’m sad to say that in this episode of Restaurant Wars of Bethany’s Life (registered trademark of no one), Graffiato would not come out on top. The food was altogether good, but the service left a lot to be desired.
::Looks up with really wide eyes::
Graffiato. Please pack your knives and go.