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    City Steam Brewery Cafe
    Posted under The Hostile Gourmet by Janet Glasser ( on Monday July 02 2001 @ 09:07PM CEST

    City Steam Brewery Cafe
    Hartford, CT

    Though we have had a recent run of bad luck on the good restaurant front, it hasn't been all bad. The time we had dinner at Max Downtown, I was positively giddy after the first conversation we had with our server. Even though we had no reservations and had to sit in the "Tavern" section (read: by the bar), we still received the exact same quality of service that the rest of the diners were receiving. Right off the bat she asked us if we were going to the show, and we were! We were going to the show! And the restaurant wasn't even very close to the theater! She wanted to time the meal right so that we weren't rushed, but still had time to make it! (I was giddy, I told you.)

    When you go out to dinner, you want someone to take care of you. The goal is to relieve your mind of stress, not to worry about whether you'll have to ration your ice water or if your server will go AWOL. This past Saturday, we went out to dinner at the City Steam Brewery Cafe, where we were beyond taken care of. Our waitress, Krazy Mary (hey, that's the name that was on the check!) was beyond efficient, literally running, at times, to the kitchen to get orders. Our drinks arrived mere minutes after we ordered them, even though we were on the third floor and the bar was on the first. When more than a few minutes had lapsed between the time that we ordered and the time that the appetizers were brought out, Mary stopped by our table to let us know that there was a private party of 160 people downstairs, but they were doing the best that they could to get the rest of the dinners out in a timely fashion. The ice water had a slice of lemon in it. But the piece de resistance was this:

    We noticed that two tables down from us, someone was smoking. Since we had asked to be seated in the non-smoking section, we asked a busboy/server-in-training if we were, indeed, seated in the non-smoking section. No, he said, this is the smoking section up here. Do you want me to ask them to put it out? Since we couldn't smell the smoke, we told him not to worry about it. Five or ten minutes later he came back to our table to tell us that he had checked and found out that they had had the seats mismarked as non-smoking on the restaurant seating chart. Five or ten minutes after that, our server, Mary, came over to apologize and explain that in the early evening, the section where we were seated is designated as non-smoking, but as it gets later it changes into a smoking section. A couple of minutes after that, the maitre'd of all people comes to our table to apologize for the mixup. At that moment, someone at the table right next to us lights up a cigarette, and she immediately says that she can move us to another table if we'd like. We'd like. (I'm not a staunch anti-smoking person, but I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why you would feel the need to smoke a cigarette and eat your appetizer at the same time.)

    So we moved to a non-smoky table, we got our food, and it was good. We were astonished and impressed that an unprecedented three people had apologized for an inconvenience. We felt like someone was in control of our relaxing dinner out. We had no worries. For this we feel that the City Steam Brewery Cafe (which, I might add is not a four-star fancy gourmet doily-and-fine-china restaurant where you expect - and pay for - that level of service) deserves a big gold star -- the shiny foil kind.

    Copyright 2000, Avery and Janet Glasser
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