Monday, August 19, 2013

A Comedy of Errors at Scores

On Sunday August 11 at 2 P.M., my wife, mother in law and myself visited Scores (150 Trainyards Drive, Ottawa) in hopes of having our usual quality chicken meal with decent service.

We arrived and waited as the third party in line.  The hostess seemed to be taking her time on a relaxing Sunday afternoon seating her customers.
She asked us to wait five minutes for a table and took our names.  We looked around at half empty restaurant.  My wife inquired as to the wait with the hostess.  The hostess replied that the wait staff was less on a Sunday afternoon due to lower volumes.  There was no one behind us, so our party of three took seats near the door waiting for the hostess to call our name.

In five minutes, she called our name, gathered the menus and moved towards an empty table.  She stopped mid way and asked us to return to the front to wait another five minutes.  It was like the table was a mirage, she even baited us by walking by the salad bar to the table.  She explained the section we were going to be in was being taken care of by a waiter who had a large party of fifteen people who had a reservation.

At this point, I asked to speak to the manager.  The hostess disappeared into the back and returned with the manager.

The manager was the usual manager we had seen in the past at this Scores location.  He usually is right on the mark helping his staff during busy times get food out of the kitchen and is usually a happy person to deal with.

He asked how he could help.  I explained that Scores seems to have let us down.  Last visit three weeks ago with my family I had inquired with him about the lack of plates at the salad bar.  There had been none and customers were forced to use the soup bowls at the other end of the bar.  After inquiring a staff member returned with another load of soup bowls.  Was not for another ten minutes later that the salad plates showed up.   This time I explained what was occurring and I was about ready to leave due to the runaround I was starting to get.

I expected the manager to apologize and find away to experience the usual Scores hospitality.  But it was not the case.  He said there was no need to be rude and I could leave if I wished. He then said that the restaurant reduces staff on Sundays after lunch normally.  He then started into the salesmanship about how Scores had been rated 5 stars in service...blah...blah...blah...blah... He then said he was opening a new section and would gladly seat us himself.

He sat us down in a booth next to the windows and handed us the menus.  Short time later, the waiter, Dex came over and asked if we had ever been to Scores before.  We nodded in agreement that we had mentally noting he was the waiter on our previous visit with an even larger party of 8 people when my family stayed during the August long weekend.

Dex took our order and inquired if we would like him to hold our chicken order for ten minutes so we could enjoy the salad bar?  We would.

The Order: 3 Quarter Chicken dinners 1 side with fries, 1 side with rice and 1 side with steamed vegetables.  Two glasses of water and 1 Pepsi. Note: All chicken meals come with complimentary salad bar access.

An interesting observation though was Dex also served another table near us of a party of ten who had arrived way before us.  Were we a new section as the manager had said?  Doubtful as not only was Dex serving this large party but yet two more tables near us as well that were also sat before us.  New section? Hardly!

I ventured over to the salad bar and got my usual potato salad, carrot salad and coleslaw.  I returned to my seat and dug into my salad.  Scores' potato salad is some of the best I've ever had and this time it did not disappoint.  A creamy sauce with decent sized edible chunks of potato.  The carrot salad and coleslaw were standard nothing special gourmet but not terrible either quality.

The salad bar at Scores is a standard nothing special salad bar that you can visit and fill yourself up at.  It has fresh fruit, chicken soup and usually one other soup of the day, build your own toss salad and a mixture of premade salads for you enjoyment.  On a regular visit this location resupplies the salad bar like clock work ensuring any empty bowls are promptly refilled in a timely fashion.  This visit was no exception.

At fifteen minutes our main chicken dishes arrived from the kitchen with  a female server.  My plate was first.  Since I was sitting closest to the window I had to receive the plate with my hands from the waitress before setting it in front of me.  Upon receiving though, the plate felt funny.  I looked to find what looked to be baked on broccoli chunks on the outside.  I perused the rest of the bottom of the plate to find more baked on vegetable debris.   I pointed out the dirty plate to the server and she promised to get me a new meal.  She disappeared for ten minutes to find a clean plate and get a new serving of fries, chicken and bun.

The chicken was the normal rotisserie juicy roast chicken that I had come to expect.  This particular piece seemed to be a little more meaty than usual meaning I got more for my money.

The accompanying fries were normal for Scores.  Nothing overly special or unique.  Just regular straight boring old fries.  No potato skins on or seasoned with unique salts from who knows where.  Just boring old fries, nothing great but nothing disgusting either.

The piece de resistance at Scores though has to be the half hamburger that fills in for a roll.  At Swiss Chalet they actually have a dinner roll that sometimes is warm served with butter.  At Scores it is like some idiot purchased bags upon bags of hamburger buns on sale to show his boss he save the company money.  One problem though, Scores doesn't have hamburgers on the menu.  What to do.....what to do....  serve it up with the chicken entrees!  Great idea and great savings too!

After finishing the chicken entree I returned to the salad bar for some food.  Upon returning, my empty chicken plate and cutlery was gone.  What do I eat melon slices and associated juice with? Dex was no where to be found.  I ventured over to the waiter area and snatched a new set of cutlery wrapped in a napkin and resumed eating.

Dex came around again inquiring how our meal was.  No problem came the reply, Dex had been marvelous with timely service in refilling my Pepsi and my co-eaters' water and clearing plates.  The only issue had been the cutlery which I was willing to cut him slack on. We asked for the bill as we did not need dessert and Dex happily obliged.

Overall, this Scores restaurant seems to be slipping.  If the restaurant staff could not handle one more table of three the manager should have been brought out to help.  The restaurant may have had more customers than normal, but in that case would it not be all hands on deck to ensure the best service level was being provided?  Not in this case, the manager had to be brought out of the back after the hostess wished to give customers nothing but the runaround.  Added to that, the quality control on cleaning plates seemed to have also declined.  The baked on piece of broccoli I found was easily visible by any person removing dishes from the dishwasher or about to put food on it.  Sure Dex saved the day with friendly timely service, but we left one of our former favourite restaurants with a bad taste in our mouth.  We will probably return to Scores, just don't expect us for at least three months.  In the meantime, Scores, pull up your socks!

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