Sunday, September 30, 2012

Restaurant Review: Cafe Alana Shay

Last Friday I went out to lunch with some friends. There is a group of us at work and a guy who used to work with us that meet up periodically to catch up with each other and enjoy a meal together. We don't do it often so when we do, it's a lot of fun. Someone suggested that we try Cafe Alana Shay, which is yet another (I believe the fifth) restaurant that Chef James Boyce has opened here in Huntsville. Soon after the suggestion was made, it was decided that this was where we would dine and we made plans to meet there at noon.

Cafe Alana Shay is located at the new Doubletree Suites (formerly the Radisson) on South Memorial Parkway. Due to lunch hour traffic, I allotted about 15 minutes from work to the restaurant and pulled out at 11:45 with three of my co-workers in tow. We arrived right at noon and our friend R was already there talking with the hostess, K. I told K that there was going to be eight of us and someone else said nine because another person had been invited that I didn't know about. Long story short, after waiting for quite a few minutes, she told us it would be about 20 minutes before she could pull a few tables together for the nine of us. So, I told her that we could sit at two or three tables because some of us had to be back at 1:00. Long story short again, we were finally seated at 12:20 - most of us at one big table and a couple at a table right beside us.

We had some time to look at the menu while we were waiting and so we all knew what we were going to order. When I looked around the restaurant, it seemed that no one had their food, which was not a good sign and so I told my friend J that we should probably get ours to go since he and I were the ones that needed to be back by 1:00. K took all our orders and J and I told her we needed ours to go.

In the meantime, K told us that she was getting chewed out because she sat us at a table and that they were not supposed to seat a table of more than four people without a reservation. If she had told us that when we first arrived, we could have gone somewhere else and avoided this whole experience. Our friend A arrived later than we did because he had an errand to run and by the time he arrived we had already ordered. He was told if he ordered that his food would take over an hour before it was ready. Needless to say, he left.

About 12:30 or so I asked K if she could go ahead and bring our checks so we could pay and wouldn't have to wait for them after the food arrived. We paid and waited some more. Finally at 12:45, the manager came out with four bags of boxed up food - each bag had two orders in it. He laid it down on the table and said, here you go, it's all there. Now, keep in mind that only J and I had ordered our food to go and yet, they had boxed up everyone's food. Not only had they boxed it up, but it wasn't labeled. So, we had to open every box and pass out the food. J and I found our food and headed out the door and I drove as quickly as I could to get him back to work for his 1:00 meeting. We made it back at 12:58.

As for the food - my fries were cold, which could be because I didn't eat them when they first came out or because they were never that hot to begin with - I'm not sure which but had they been hot they might have been okay. They were kind of greasy as well which really surprised me. J ate his fries as we headed back to work and commented that McDonald's fries are better. I had ordered the Rueben ($9) and it was not the best Reuben I've ever had. It had a ton of meat on it though, which is good for those that enjoy a lot of meat on their sandwich. I actually took some of it off. The meat was kind of tough, but Reuben's can be that way sometimes. J had the steak sandwich and I have not heard from him on how it was. My friend R had the burger and said it was fantastic - but  also said it could have been because of how hungry he was. A couple of people went for the crab cakes and said they were good. Maybe I just ordered the wrong entree. Not to mention that I was itchy the rest of the afternoon - I think I might have just been paranoid that someone poisoned my food.

The atmosphere at Cafe Alana Shay was also kind of strange. The lobby of the Doubletree looks really nice now that it has been redone. It is very modern and unlike something you would think of when you think of Huntsville. The restaurant had grey tones with some bright green accents. The crowd was mostly older women who most likely normally dine at the country club. The background music was a techno dance remix that seemed to be on a loop which was an odd contrast to the uppity decor and clientele of the restaurant.

So, long story short, again, I will not be back to this restaurant. I had really high hopes for this place, but after the way we were treated and not catered to, there is no way I would ever return. Like I said, all of this could have been avoided if K had told us we needed a reservation and sent us on our way - it was a really disappointing experience.


Melissa said...

That stinks - I hate bad service. And, they should be ready for big drop in lunch crowds. I wouldn't think that is an unusual thing. Oh and learn, right?

Alison said...

That's really weird. And for the hostess to tell you that she got in trouble for it? What exactly were you supposed to do? Apologize for being seated? Sounds like they've got some work to do on handling lunch rush.

Erika said...

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience! Lunch hour is supposed to be the best hour of the day :)

Anonymous said...

I'm going this afternoon and give them a chance, will get back