Why service matters: Camden’s Brevetto scores on food and location, but …

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[Before I rant, let me preface this with two points: First,  I’ve been there. I spent about 10 years of my life, from high school through college and into my post-college ski-bumming years waitressing and bartending, so I get it. Second, the food was very good, and if service hadn’t been an issue, I’d return again. So let me get on with the story.]

I met a friend for dinner at Brevetto Kitchen & Wine Bar, a newish restaurant in the Knox Mill in Camden. We snagged a table on the porch overhanging the river; nice! There were two other tables outside—one just having drinks, the other some food, and while we were there, another table of two arrived. Inside there were two to four tables dining. So, it wasn’t busy. Not by a long shot.

About five minutes after ordering two tapas-style apps and a flatbread pizza, our waiter returned with our wine, but no water.

And then we waited.

After about 15 minutes, he brought with a focaccia-style bread and an herbed oil, but we had to re-request that water.

And then we waited.

And ate all the bread.

And waited.

By this point, not only was the bread basket dry, but more important so were both our water glasses and wine glasses.

Finally, he showed up with one of our apps. We requested more water and wine, and he came back with water, followed by wine another five minutes later. Our server really put the wait in waiter.

Eventually, our pizza showed up, with the promise of mussels and wine to come. And nearly an hour after we first sat down, they showed up.

And we never saw our waiter again.

Brief interlude, let’s talk about the food: No complaints, chef/owner Josh Hixson has talent. We split an order of local mussels with toasted garlic, mixed herbs, lemon, and smoked salt; an order of toasted goat cheese croutons with wild mushrooms and marsala; and a basil-pesto flatbread pizza topped with assorted olives, sliced fresh lemon, feta, and mozzeralla. The mussels had depth and zing; the cheese croutons were actually more like a pizza, but I loved the richness; and the pizza was scrumptious, but the olives should have been at least halved, if not sliced, as they rolled off the slice. Whoops! there goes another.

So we ate, and we polished off the wine and water, and we sat, and—you know what’s coming, right? we waited.

In time, someone came by to ask how everything was and to refresh our waters, but it wasn’t our waiter. It was Executive Chef Josh Hixson (as written on his chef’s whites). When we asked why it took so long to get the food, he was genuinely surprised.

“When orders come in, they go right out,” he said. So why did it take 45 minutes for the first apps, nearly an hour for the rest? The good chef was quite apologetic, then noted that the server was new, and that he was the bartender and picking up a few tables, and that he ran a lean staff and that it was Happy Hour (really? no one mentioned that to us), and, and, and.

And that’s why I’m ranting instead of raving about Brevetto. Go for the food, but be prepared to wait.

1 COMMENT

  1. Service has always been the knock on this place…which is very unfortunate. I’ve been there 5 or 6 times and, personally, I’ve never had an issue…which I know is strange. I have, however, seen firsthand how slow the service can be. The food is always great, and the Italian wine selection is very good (and I LOVE the flights).

    This place (i.e. Josh) deserves to make it. I really hope he can figure out these staffing issues….before it’s too late.

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