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I prefer to post about all the restaurants I enjoy, but I'm feeling so bothered by my brunch experience today, that I'm going public with my complaints.
My sweetie and I are semi-regular customers of both Sophia's and Ezra's Place on North Fourth, two of the three restaurants owned by the same family. We've had many a great meal at both places, with excellent food and service, and we've taken friends and guests there, as well as recommending both spots to many others. In reality, we'd be regular customers except for the distance we have to travel to enjoy these restaurants.
This morning, we decided to head up to Ezra's, where we haven't been in about 5 months, for some brunch. They have a delicious menu, which includes some really tasty specials. Nowhere on that menu does it say "no substitutions allowed." So I ordered the same thing I usually get, which is a plate of eggs, potatoes, toast and meat. On the menu it appears as apple chicken sausage with eggs and the rest. I've always asked for bacon (I really dislike sausage, but especially the stuff made out of chicken) and have never had any problem with the switch. It's just one breakfast meat for another, throw it on the grill and then onto my plate. I also asked for a tortilla instead of toast, something I've done at Ezra's before with no problem. Again, just put a tortilla on the plate and I've saved you the effort of toasting and buttering some bread.
Well, this morning our waitress returned to our booth to tell me that the cook wouldn't serve me bacon. I actually stared at her for a few seconds because I was shocked. What? Why not? Seriously, what is the reason not to substitute bacon for sausage? It's not as though I was requesting any extra work on his part, it's just meat sitting on the plate and not part of a more complicated dish. And I'd have to wonder what kind of fancy pig his bacon was coming from if there was a significant price difference between that and apple chicken sausage (which is pricier than plain ole pork sausage). Furthermore, roughly a third of the tables were full, so it wasn't as though I was making requests of an overwhelmed kitchen. The waitress offered me a side of bacon and I told her I didn't want to pay extra when I was already going to be paying for meat I wouldn't eat. So we moved on and waited for our breakfast to arrive.
When my plate did come, I had sausage, a piece of toast and some eggs that were cooked way beyond the over-easy I had ordered. I know there are places that refuse to serve eggs over-easy, but usually they say "we can do them over-medium" and I'm fine with that--these were just really overcooked. But the part that pushed me from annoyed to pissed off was the toast. Is it really that hard to substitute a tortilla for toast? Really? Really?! This just seemed like a cook having a bad day and taking it out on customers in petty ways. I debated pushing for a tortilla and just decided it wasn't worth the argument. So I ate my breakfast. And it was disappointing and I decided that I wanted to speak with the manager before we left.
Well, it turns out the cook in the kitchen today is the manager. Turns out he's actually an owner of the place. So the owner of a restaurant that charges $9 for a plate of eggs, meat and potatoes refused two very simple customer requests that had been filled by his kitchen in the past and would have been fulfilled without an eye blink at Milton's or the Frontier (to say nothing of Slate Street or the Grove). If it said anywhere on his menu or if it was posted by the door that there were no substitutions allowed, I would have spent more time finding something else on the menu to eat. Then it's a policy that we're all aware of, rather than the whim of a guy having a bad day. I could even see him balking at the requests if they made his job even minimally more difficult. But bacon for sausage and tortilla for toast just don't add to his effort.
And I'm ticked off that a pleasant brunch with my husband was marred by the petty tyranny of a guy who makes his money from the customers who come through his door. Which we will no longer be doing. There are enough other places in Abq. that serve great food in a good atmosphere and don't mind fulfilling a request for a small change to a meal.
Yes, this is a pretty small thing to get upset about, but it cast a pall over the Sunday morning my family was enjoying and the interactions throughout really bothered me, so I'm exorcising my bad feelings about it by posting here. (I also want to mention that we tipped our waitress a full 20%, because the cook/owner's behavior wasn't her fault at all.)
So farewell Ezra's....and Sophia's for that matter. We haven't checked out Joe's, so we'll never know what we may have missed. Anyone have a good brunch place we should add to our circuit?
You mentioned Milton's, the Frontier, Slate Street and the Grove. Have you tried the Range Cafe? The one on Menaul at Princeton would probably be closest to you. We've always had great food and service there, and the decor is cute. They are open 7 days a week starting at 7:30am.
And don't overlook La Fonda del Bosque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, especially for New Mexico food. They are open Sunday, 9am – 3pm.
"Celebrate the weekend with a wonderful Sunday brunch featuring live music, followed by a leisurely visit to the Art Museum, some shopping at La Tiendita, and maybe even a matinee at the Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts."
Ditto. Get the dutch baby pancake. Yum. Yum. Yum.
I have to say that the Dutch baby at Green wasn't great. Dutch babies should be airy and delicate. Mine was was flat (the texture was more like the sponge-bread thing you get at an Ethopian place). The egg dishes were fabulous, as were the greens, but the coffee was dishwater-y and the dutch baby was a dud.
Slate street's Dutch baby is extraordinary, especially when they serve it with grilled peaches.
There are about a million great places to get over-easy eggs, bacon and tortillas on 4th NW, so I wouldn't go back to breakfast at Ezra's if I were you, either. Try some of the local Mexican places. I had huevos rancheros at La Isla restaurant (Bridge St. near Isleta) with fresh, homemade tortillas this morning and it was great.
I'd just to point out here that I love DCF. People have taken Hettie's rant and turned it into a discussion of their favorite restaurants. Some of the ones mentioned are go-to joints for us, and now there are a bunch of new ones we think we need to try.
Thanks for putting such a positive spin on everything!
I think the source of your problems is evident the Ezra's/Sophia's/Joe's Place Business profile in the Alibi:
What are your strongest business traits?
Interesting business philosophy. I tend to go to locally owned restaurants because I can always count on specific dishes that I love. That's what keeps me going back.
I've had some good meals at Ezra's and Sophia's, but have had bad service at both places. I don't go to either place often, even though I live in the North Valley. The bad service keeps me from going back frequently.