Thursday, December 12, 2013

Birthday Dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango - Great Friends, Good Food, Awful Service!

Happy Birthday to me! Yep, the 11th was my birthday and since I knew I'd be spending all day traveling, I made plans to celebrate the night before with a few friends at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, a funky tapas restaurant on International Drive. It seemed like a good choice since I've been there before and liked the food, it's located in a spot that's fairly equidistant for my friends that live near Disney and those that live on the north side of town, the atmosphere is fun, and since the portions are small, you can easily still join the party while only spending a little money if you're on a budget. (I always hate when people have parties at a restaurant where I know I'm going to have to spend at least $20 just to be there.) I made a reservation for 8 people, some of whom I hadn't seen yet on this trip, so I was totally excited!

Katie and I took a quick photo before leaving her house for dinner.

Parking was horrendous - they mostly had the parking lot blocked off by the people doing valet, but we managed to come in the back way and find a fairly close spot. We checked in right on time, and the hostess let me know there was a bit of a wait. I told her it was no problem since we were still waiting for 2 people to arrive, and she took my cell phone number and said they would call or text when our table was ready. Since the weather was so great and there were a few other groups hanging out in the lobby waiting to be seated, we all went outside to talk and wait for the rest of our party.

Slideshow Image 2

After about half an hour of waiting, we started glancing around at the other restaurants within walking distance, wondering if we should just go somewhere else. At about 45 minutes, we all started pulling out our phones to complain via social media. When we hit the point of having waited an entire hour, we decided to go stand in the lobby and stare at the hostess until something happened. As you can probably guess, we were seated after less than 10 minutes of that. I know it can be tough to predict when you'll have a table open, but they must have known we'd have a long wait, and I feel like we should have been given some kind of warning about how bad it would be so we could have made an informed decision about if we wanted to wait or go somewhere else. Some small gesture of apology would have made a huge difference, ie "Sorry about that crazy wait even though you had a reservation! Here's a free appetizer in apology!" Just *something*, you know?

I do have to note that I and a few others in my group have been to Tu Tu Tango before, and we've always had good experiences in the past. Not sure what went wrong tonight, but the service was definitely bad enough to put me off going back anytime soon!

I can't even remember all of the weird things that went wrong with our service, but there were a ton of them. Our food started arriving before we got our drinks (A few people were splitting a carafe of the sangria, while others had ordered separate drinks. I went with the passion fruit sangria which was awesome). That wasn't so bad since we had water, but we also had no silverware! We had to ask at least 4 different people before we finally got some. I can't help but wonder if our waitress was brand new, because she seemed to have no idea how to take care of a table. For instance, once she came over to clear the plate of the person across from me, and he asked for another beer. Rather than doing the obvious thing of asking if anyone else would like another drink or menu item (it's tapas, so most people order several courses), she started to walk off! We had to call her back because a few of us did want more food. The carafe of sangria went pretty quickly since it was being split, but I don't recall her ever asking if we wanted another. I also don't remember anyone being asked how their food was. Basically all of the normal restaurant service things that are so commonplace you never notice them were missing, and it was super weird!

Group photo, minus Katie (who should be across from me) and Dave (who took the photo). Can you tell which one of us no longer lives in sunny Florida?

Bonus pic w/ Dave since he wasn't in the group shot. Yes, I seriously am that pale.

In addition to the awesome passion fruit sangria I mentioned above, I ordered the hummus (Which was okay, but basically just a big blob of plain hummus with some crackers and pita bread. Smaller portions of a few different flavors would have been much better.) and the cheesecake pops (awesome). A big part of the fun here is sampling the dishes that your friends order, but since nobody's food ever came out at the same time, it made doing that a little awkward. When I've gone in the past, we'd all order a round of food, each grab a few bites of each dish, and then order another round. The timing was just off this night, I guess.

We originally intended to go to Player One video game bar after dinner, but since we weren't seated until about 9:30 and service was slow, most of us weren't really up for another stop afterwards, so we just called it a night. Probably a good thing, since I needed to be up early-ish to head to the airport the next day!

Spending time with my friends was awesome, drinks were great, most of our food was good, but we were all pretty grumpy about the service and the crazy wait. I'll probably go back here eventually, but it will definitely take a while for the grudge I developed on this night to fade. There are so many awesome places to eat in Orlando, why keep going back to a place that let us down in such a major way?


Katie said...

I was incredibly disappointed by Tu Tu Tango that night. Since making the reservation I'd talked almost nonstop about the AMAZING egg rolls... but when the time came to order, I stuck with the simplest thing on the menu (cheese flatbread) because I was worried they'd mess up the egg rolls, and if they did that I knew I would NEVER go back, and I typically love this place. I couldn't believe no one ever apologized to us for the hour long wait. Not even a hint of a "sorry". If anything, they seemed inconvenienced by the fact we were there. ---you also forgot to mention when we were finally seated, they tried to cram us into a table for 6 and we had to flag down a server and ask if we could have a chair to put at the end of the table. :P

Katie said...

Also we had to ask three different people for silverware (after our food started to arrive) before anyone brought us some.

And they ran out of drink glasses.

Katie said...

It's really amazing they didn't comp our entire meal, dude, now that I'm thinking about it. We didn't even order that much since the server never asked if we wanted anything. I would've ordered more sangria, given the change.

Crystal said...

I forgot about poor Megan being left chairless! And yeah, I know that as a table we added up to at least a couple hundred $, but they could have easily made WAY more off of us with a little effort.