Last week I met a friend at Cibo - a wine bar in midtown Toronto. It's her recommendation - a nice wine bar. Some pretty people are there. We are seated by an attractive hostess. Trendy music is playing (a little loud for my taste, but it's all good). Server comes to our table and introduces herself (dammed if I can remember her name) - but I digress.
She sets drinks menus down - and comes back a few minutes later. Neither of us open the menus. I order my usual (Campari and Soda) and my friend orders a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (pretty pedestrian orders). So far so good.
Couple hours later, we're good to go - the check arrives. "You've charged us for the bottle", I say to the server. "Umm" she replies with a look of incredulity. "The glass of wine your friend ordered is $32". By this time, I'm rolling on the floor. "$32 for a glass of cab sauv that my friend ordered - not even by it's name?"
"Yup", said the server with a you-caught-me-with-my-fingers-in-the-cookie-jar look. "This is a wine bar you know." (Note to self - like I believe being in a wine bar justifies a $32 hammering for a glass of cab sauv).
My blood's starting to boil - I'm biting my tongue. "Sure", I continue - I pay the bill, add a generous tip (like she deserved it) and my friend and I continue chatting. "Wait. Tell you what," I add, as we run for the exit. "Here's another $20. Use it to buy someone a drink who can't afford to take a $32 pounding for a glass of the same cab sauv my friend just drank" - as I pressed a cool $20 into her soft and wanting palm.
Then we left - not even an entire boatload of bitters could come close to the bitter taste in my mouth.
I called the manager yesterday- just to let him know. He was non-chalant - couldn't care less. "Yeah", he went on. "It was a great wine, wasn't it - I'll let the server know you liked it but thought is was kinda pricey". I asked if there were perhaps cheaper options. "Many", he replied. Begs the question (in my mind, at least) why a $32 glass was served, as opposed to a $19 glass or say a $71 glass (if there even is such a thing).
Obviously the server gave us the proverbial "you-know-what." The manager seemed oblivious.
"Next time you're in the area, drop in - and ask for me. If I'm here I'll give you a glass on us," he added. "Nothing much I can do - like I can't give you a refund or anything."
Yeah right - like I'm gonna come to mid-town to get a free glass of $12, $22, $32, $42 or even $71 glass of anything.
1. Don't order a house red, house white, cab sauv, burger or anything at a restaurant without knowing the price - if you do, touch your toes and open wide 'cause you're at their mercy
2. Deliver and expect full transparency in all your communications - the server should have told us the price tag and given us the choice
3. As a client/ customer, ask questions
4. Last impressions last long --- I know you know mine of Cibo
Cibo's at 2472 Yonge Street - that's if you care to touch your toes, open wide and pay $32 for a cab sauv (without opening the menu). If not, you can buy two bottles of my favorite red wine (Altoona Cab Sauv) and make a toast to three old concepts --- transparency, disclosure and value.
You'd make me smile if you did! Le Chaim.