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?

Tags: Ezra's, Fail, Place

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I'm guessing the manager wasn't accustomed to working the kitchen, and was a little overwhelmed at the prospect.  But still, it's unfortunate that his unwillingness to fulfill simple orders threw your whole day off kilter.

 

Anyhow, I do believe that in proper DCF fashion, your post should be titled "SHAME!!!! on Ezra's Place!"

I won't dive too far into the details, but last time my wife and I went to Ezra's, we didn't have a very good experience either. Let me say, we have eaten at Ezra's and Sophia's many times, with great results. Hopefully it has to do with the growing pains of opening a 3rd restaurant.

My son and I popped into Ezra's for the first time a few weeks ago and were extremely disappointed. It was clearly after a brunch rush, the place was mostly empty, the hostess didn't even make eye contact with us. After several minutes sitting at a table waiting to be acknowledged, we left. Bad mojo.

 

So we went down the street to Sophia's. Again, a first time for us. It was close to closing, A son and a mother behind the counter (owners?) were openly arguing and cursing. Food was okay, but the customer service was terrible. I won't go back to either place.

We just ate at Jo's Place based on the Alibi's review. Sad to say, we were disappointed. The kids ordered meatless bean and cheese burritos. The black beans would have been a lovely touch - except for the fact that they were sadly undercooked and there was barely any cheese to be had. Both kids took a bite each and gave up. I ordered the poblano cheeseburger (again, based on Alibi's recommendation - and the mouthwatering picture of same). I was hopeful when the counterperson asked how I wanted my burger cooked. While I ordered medium, what I got was a dry, well-done burger (pre-fab by the perfect shape of the meat) with maybe a teaspoon of cheese and a hastily grilled, still somewhat raw poblano pepper on top.
The high point of the entire experience was the french fries...and that ain't enough to go back for. I dunno. Maybe "expansion" hasn't been the best move for Sophia/Ezra/Jo's.
Try The Grove for a fine breakfast/brunch.

 

Since we live in Nob Hill, both Sophia's and Erza's take a bit of effort to get to. For the distance and time, we can probably find cafes closer to home to make us feel unwelcome. Thanks for the heads up! Grove is always a good bet and the staff is always pleasant, Daily Grind doesn't have great seating in sweltering weather, but great pastries and coffee and if you don't have to have great coffee Mes Amis Tea House on Silver SE. is nice.

we love the grove for breakfast! and you're the 3rd or 4th person to mention daily grind to me, meaning I've got to get my butt over there soon. thanks for the recommendations!

 

Daily Grind has the best scones in the city.  Definitely go!!  Also, their breakfast burritos are great!

 

Love the Daily Grind!

Daily Grind pies...yumyumyum!!!

 

Daily Grind rocks! They use Allegro coffee (delicious & fair trade) and have wonderful food. Plus, the folks are just so nice. Check out the little patio seating area round the back if you go!

 

Hettie, if you talked to a manager that was an owner, that was most likely Dennis - THE owner.  Ezra does work in the restaurant(s) occasionally but he is a bit young to be a manager yet, if I recall.  (Ezra is Dennis' son, and still in his teens)

 

So.... what did they say when confronted, and what did you say?

Next time, order a chicken salad sandwich - okay, in this case, make that a BLT...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wtfNE4z6a8 

 

(But honestly, I've eaten at Ezra's and Sophies lots of times, and have had really terrific meals - but I think Jo's Place is a stretch for his business.  I miss the handicapped couple who ran that place - although the service was awfully slow, to say the least.  It's a great space, but it needs a good efficient short order cook to run the kitchen (Jo's Place, that is...)  ) 

(PS - the green chile stew / sandwich was pretty awful at McAllister's Deli in Uptown - maybe i should rant about that....)

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