The Good, The Bad…The Restaurant Roundup!

Since this isn’t a food review blog I can’t really figure out how to talk about restaurants because I sooooo want to review their foooooood!! Alas, that isn’t the premise of this blog, so instead I’ll try to stay on-topic and talk about the other stuff. Harumph.

Look how close they are to me!

Look how close they are to me!

I can’t really start talking about restaurants without telling you about The Parish Cafe, in Healdsburg. They happen to be my business neighbors and so I eat there an unimaginable amount, and they love me for it – even though now when they see my number on their caller ID they answer by shouting “WHAT?!”

Like I said…they love me.

Luckily I never really jumped on the feminist bandwagon, so being whistled at in the parking lot or called ‘sweetheart’ and ‘baby’ when I visit or phone in a to-go order from these folks doesn’t ruffle my feathers in the slightest. In fact, I’m kind of a sucker for the pet names (not so much the catcalls, but hey, whatever, we’re all friends here), so I’ll take them where I can get them. Sure, it took some getting used to, but then I remembered that these people are from New Orleans, so…I guess that’s just what they do there. Or something.

I’m a very neighborly person, so I like it when I go to pick up my food and the chef and owner, Rob, waves and asks “how ya doin’, darlin’?” I LOVE that when his wife and co-owner Karla once saw that I’d posted something grumpy on Facebook, she brought me a glass of sparkling wine to cheer me up (sparkles always work!).  And, Bradley the manager often hand delivers my food with a “here ya go, sweetheart, how’s your day goin’?” It’s sort of endearing, if you’re into that sort of thing. Which I TOTALLY AM!

He looks mean, but that's only because I'm annoying him

He looks mean, but that’s only because I’m annoying him

Since, again, this isn’t a food review blog, I won’t go into detail about their delicious New Orleans style cuisine. However, I will volunteer that I’ve gained about 10 pounds since they opened their doors, so you can take from that what you will. Ahem.

Moving on.

zazu outside

Different location, Different vibe

In an attempt to branch out a little, I used the excuse of an upcoming special occasion – that being my sweetheart Paulie’s birthday. I took him out to dinner at Zazu, in their new location in Sebastopol’s newest weird metal shopping/eating/doing stuff mecca, The Barlow. I love the local produce and vendor focused, snout-to-tail concept behind this restaurant and I wish I could afford to experience them more than once every six years or so. But I can’t, hence checking them out for a special occasion. 

The fact that Paulie was trying to hide that he probably had a low-grade flu may have been the reason we found the whole experience a bit lackluster. The food we shared (not reviewing the food! NOT. Reviewing. The. Food.) was great, and maybe the waiter wasn’t being terribly friendly or helpful because he could see the shine of fever in Paulie’s eyes, which I myself was choosing to ignore. Given this possibility, I’ll just give the overall restaurant experience a simple pro and con until we can go back in better health.

The pro: when asked, the food runner was able to recommend a glass of wine to pair with the dinner we shared that did, indeed, compliment the flavors. Sometimes these things are a wild-guess crapshoot, as we all know, so I got lucky in that she actually knew what she was talking about.

Add a bunch of people and Bon Jovi. It's pretty loud in there.

Add a bunch of people and Bon Jovi. It’s pretty loud in there.

The con: while I initially thought it was super cool that my go-to karaoke song was playing in the restaurant, I quickly realized that I was dining on the patio, a seemingly safe distance away from the terrible acoustics provided by the confines of all the metal and cement inside. If I were dining in there, I can imagine that hearing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer at crazy full volume might not complement my $120 (one beer, one vodka & tonic, two appetizers, one glass of house wine, one vegetarian entree) dinner for two quite as perfectly as I’d like. Call me nit-picky, but when laying down that kind of cash I like to be able to hear the words coming out of my dinner companion’s mouth. Luckily, since we were outside I could not only hear my date, he could hear me as well…and so I was able to put on a very subtle air-Bon Jovi show for him, which I’m pretty sure might be the best gift anyone could ever give. Granted, he was too out of it to notice, but whatever – it rocked, to say the least.

Even so, I think next time we’ll just kick it at home, where the food is only so-so, but the service is out of this world.

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10 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad…The Restaurant Roundup!

  1. Fantastic Post! Very interesting to hear about the two different restaurants! I used to go to a small little cafe in Forestville everyday after high school. The service was wonderful and the food was great. It was sad to see that cafe close down though. It’s currently called Tiny Town and went for a completely different ambiance, like shutting all the windows down, just felt depressing to go in there.

    • Thank you! And I agree – so much about a certain restaurant, coffee shop, corner market, bookstore, or whatever can really pull a community together, and it’s always sad when those businesses go away. Sorry you lost your favorite spot!

  2. That feminism comment wasn’t bad at all! 😉 And I’m actually not opposed to being called Sweety once in a while- It just depends on whether it’s done in a douchey way- sometimes it can be quite nice. Also- couldn’t agree more- “Sparlkes always work!) Lol Love me some sparkling wine! 😀

  3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is Facebook friends with her favorite restaurant owners. 🙂

    I’m actually glad to read that the food at Zazu is good (even though your blog is about customer service). One of my acquaintances is actually a server there, and I know a few people who supply produce to them (I think my roommate might be included in that). I have actually never been to Zazu, though, old or new location. Is that really what the decor looks like? I like it, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for that type of restaurant. That actually looks more fit for a fancy-ish diner on the beach, in my opinion.

    In general, I seem to have terrible luck with service everywhere, which is why I usually don’t let it affect my overall rating (unless the servers are plain rude). However, there is one restaurant in particular where I’m treated like a queen every time I go. Been to the restaurant at Applewood Inn? It’s incredibly expensive (easily $100 a head), but the service is impeccable. But it’s probably exactly what you’d expect from a restaurant who has received a Michelin star in the past.

    Also, I’m totally with you on the feminism thing, though it depends on the delivery of the catcalls and the person delivering them…

    CS 57.11

    • I agree, while the food was good, I would really HOPE that it would be at the prices they charge. As I said, I love their concept and am a big Local nerd, but there are some elements missing that will likely keep me from going back, namely affordability (I had to save up for that shared meal and was selfishly a little relieved that Paul wasn’t feeling very well…otherwise we would have really ‘dined’!) and atmosphere. The old location, while small and therefore probably limiting, was very cozy and homey, whereas this one is industrial and cold. And loud! But, this location is still new to them and everyone around them, so time will tell what changes may come.

  4. Great review, knowing it is not a review. Too far for me to go, but I love reading reviews. Some kind of vicarious dinner experience, maybe. But I am not too drawn to Sebastopol for an expensive restaurant. Actually anywhere.

    The Parish Cafe, in Healdsburg sounds great, but since I never get to Healdsburg, oh well.
    Thanks for very fun reviews of customer service.
    Windsor cs5711

  5. What a great story. I haven’t been to Barlow Center yet since it officially opened (I did go to Taylor Maid Coffee once a few months ago) and I find the phenomenon of it frankly daunting. But karaoke, did you say!? In Sebastopol? Oh, I think I hear the siren calling . . .

    A little consideration and friendly attitude in service does make a huge difference, I have to agree. It’s nice that your Healdsburg business neighbors love you so much they can shout “WHAT?” into the phone when you call and the regulars can catcall you all in good fun. But I think it’s possible to be taken a bit too much for granted in places where they know you and love you. Like, there is this one Sebastopol eatery, whose name I won’t mention, which I patronize often. I drink an unusual amount of water with my meals so I don’t mind every now and again standing up and walking across the floor and pouring my own water. That’s fine. But I was in there the other night about 20 minutes before they closed and there were only two other customers (together) besides me. So when the lovely, friendly server brought my food, and I asked her to please refill my water when she had a chance, and she told me cheerily “Of course!” but then disappeared for five minutes until I had to go get it myself, I felt a little taken for granted, you know? I tipped a little less than usual (but still over 15%). Hope you can approve.

  6. Pingback: Bravo, Bravas! | You've Been Served

  7. Pingback: The Good, The Bad…The Restaurant Roundup! Part 3 | You've Been Served

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