The (last?) dinner at Hollywood Burger Bistro
Below is the extended version. I took out the final paragraph, which draws a conclusion about the future of Hollywood Burger Bistro that, however warranted, is mere speculation.
About the experience, the author says: I believe the adjectives my friends used were 'unparalleled, memorable, and unforgettable. I would call it sad. :-(
And just now (5:37 p.m.), I called to get a response from someone at Hollywood Burger Bistro. No one answered the phone.
Here's the letter:
Thanks for encouraging me to email. I feel like an in-depth explanation of my and my friends’ experience last night at Hollywood Burger Bistro is warranted given the number of bizarre things that occurred, and tweets or DM’s just can’t convey it all. First, I must say that I never vent about bad experiences in restaurants, nor do I think of myself as being a difficult diner to please. Our experience last night was so bizarre that it deserves some attention, if only to provide other reader's with some funny entertainment on this gloomy afternoon.
I had my reservations about going to Hollywood’s in the first place, given the number of less than stellar reviews on both Yelp and FourSquare. As a social marketer I do my research on new places and generally think the crowd gets it right. But I figured “what the heck, it’s in the neighborhood, I’ll give it a whirl, " and I was a big fan of the spot when it was Red Fish. Plus one of my dining companions claimed to have heard good things about it. From whom these “good things” were heard, I have no clue, they clearly were talking about a different restaurant.
We were seated in the back dining room, where I believe only one other table was occupied. We order drinks, which come pretty quickly, however all of the sodas were flat. Problem #1.
We then ordered our appetizer. We went with the fries, but added on truffle oil, demi glace, and cheese curds to make them more poutine-like (as we all love the delish poutine at nearby Jack’s). Five minutes later fries arrive. Plain. With a plastic cup of ketchup on the side. No cheese curds, no demi glace, no truffle oil, no poutine-ness. Problem #2.
We tell the waiter this is not what we ordered he insists this is it, the toppings are buried inside the pile of fries. We think “Hmmm, that’s weird,” and dig deeper in the fries. But still don’t find any yummy toppings. Problem #3.
We call the waiter back again to tell him this. He takes the plate back into the kitchen and returns with a plastic cup with shredded parmesan cheese and tells us these are the cheese curds. Clearly that is not the case. Problem #4.
Our waiter comes back to take our dinner order. We get through three of the four burger orders, when my friend mentions the plainness of our fries and describes what demi glace and cheese curds should look like. The waiter than swiftly picks up the plate and takes it back to the kitchen, without taking the fourth order. Awkward problem #5.
Five minutes later he returns, apologizing for the mistake, fortunately this plate of fries resembles what we ordered. Our fourth diner then had to ask if he could order. Awkward problem #6.
Ordering finally complete, we dive into the fries, which were actually delicious. This is a good thing since it took 30 minutes to get them right and we were starving. We were then joined by two other friends who pulled up a table and joined us. One orders a lager and is told they don’t have any. Seriously? Problem #7.
Another orders a Stoli Razz drink and it told they have no Stoli. Problem #7.
We were amazed that a place with such a big bar could have no light beer of any kind and no top shelf vodka, but they order other drinks and are satisfied. Our two new guests were given menus and here’s the kicker… wait for it… told that the place had “run out of beef.” Problem #8.
Given the fact that there were only maybe seven other people in the place the entire time we were there between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, there is no way that they had a run on burgers before we came in. Also burgers make up 75% of the menu, once you knock those out of consideration you are left with pizza or pasta for dinner. Fortunately, our friends are told that it happened to be two-for-one-pizza night. So they order two pizzas and dinner marches on… and on… and on. We wait over an hour for our burgers, which keep in mind were ordered 20 minutes before the pizzas, yet still somehow the pizzas arrive first. Problem #9.
We had our suspicions that they had actually run out of beef before any of us had ordered and ran over to Safeway to get some. Finally an hour and fifteen minutes after we sat down, our burgers arrive. Problem #10
Had the experience leading up to us receiving our food not been so negative, I may have been okay with the mediocre burger that I was served, but the burgers my friends got were terrible. My Princess Di burger had limp wet bacon on top, my friend’s medium burger was so overcooked and dried out he couldn’t eat it, and my other friend’s burger with an egg on top had a huge piece of egg shell in it. Problems #11-13.
I won’t even get into how long it took to get the bill once we had finished attempting to eat. Problem #14. Once we got it, we were charged for two pizzas instead of one as we were promised. Problem #15. After some conversation with our waiter that was fixed and after some additional urging and our reminding him of the ridiculous things that had happened, he cut our bill in half. A very nice gesture, but it still does not salvage the situation.
Baltimore Sun photo/Algerina Perna