2.15.2010

Xiomara: Foodies Beware!



I drive by this restaurant all the time. The name grabs me. I wonder what kind of food they serve and who goes there. I decided finally to give it a try during DineLA week. My reservation was made for Xiomara (See-o-mara), a Cuban fusion restaurant on Melrose Avenue just past Highland.

The reservation was for four people at 9pm. The restaurant was quiet on this Monday night with only four other parties seated. Having looked over the DineLA prix fixe menu before arriving, we were all hungry and eager to enjoy the food at Xiomara.

Then the waiting game began. Our party was promptly seated at our table, but no menus were given. A server came to our table and took our drink order. Four tantalizing mojoitos arrived at our table, but still no menus. We sat for 20 minutes before receiving a menu.


Our appetizers came out relatively quickly and we thoroughly enjoyed them, however the rest of the meal dragged on. Our plates were cleared, our drinks finished, and no entrees in sight. By the time our entrees were delivered, only one other party remained in the eerily quiet restaurant. By the time we received dessert, even they were gone. To make matters worse, the ice cream accompaniment to our tres leches cake was half melted. Our friend’s three-gelato sampler turned out to be three samples of mango. Our server told her that this was the only gelato they had. Suffice it to say she did not order mango at all and did not eat her dessert.

At this point we were ready to leave. We waited for our check and had trouble even finding one of the two servers to bring it to us. Did I mention that it was already 11pm! The bill was presented and we immediately put down our payment. I could see one of the servers behind me cleaning silverware while the other server was at the front of the restaurant setting tables. No one was acknowledging us. I would have asked for a manager, but it was very evident that there was no manager working that night. Finally in our frustration we called for the server across the room. We waited another 19 minutes for the bill to return and watched as the two servers struggled with splitting our check. The check returned manually written and the server explained that the Micros system had crashed. Fine. Yet, another problem occurred- we had been overcharged. Imagine how frustrated we are at this point, tired from all the waiting and ready to go home. I again flagged down a server and tried to explain that we were charged incorrectly, but rather than understanding their error and fixing the mistake, the servers argued over it in front of us.

We left Xiomara upset and completely disappointed. From the minute we sat down to the minute we left, we received poor customer service. Throughout our dinner we were kind and tolerant, but we should not have spent $200 on a dinner that took 2 hours and 20 minutes. What disappoints me most is that we enjoyed our meal and were looking forward to sharing a positive experience, but after receiving such completely horrible service we will certainly never be back.

I wrote to the General Manager to explain what happened on our visit. It took her almost a week to send this response:

Xiomara had a meeting with all the employees that worked on Monday night to discuss the service your received.

According to the servers the reason you did not receive menus as soon as you were seated is that your group did not all arrive at the same time and they waited until your group had completely arrived before giving you the menus.

The problem with the melted ice cream was that it literally had just finished churning and had not had time to freeze- it should not have been served. it seems that the server did not put the sorbet order in with the flavors that were requested. the server should never had told you that we only had mango, since we did have all the flavors on the menu.

The disagreement on how to split your check happened because our pos system was not processing credit cards, the filter on our water heater had burst over the weekend and shorted out several different electronic systems and the hardware to process the credit cards had not been replace yet. However, they should not have disagreed in your presence nor should they have double charged the sales tax, that was someone not understanding how to fill out the credit card slip.

The service you received was not our normal standard and Xiomara would like to send you a gift certificate for 2 mojitos and 2 appetizers.


I cannot believe that a restaurant would be so apathetic to this situation. I expected a sincere apology and acknowledgement of what went wrong on our visit. Instead Xiomara's General Manager passively justified all of the evening’s mistakes. In a sense she validated the poor customer service we received. Her offer of 2 mojitos and 2 appetizers hardly compensates for our four meals. Take my advice: there are many fantastic restaurants in Los Angeles - do not waste your time or your money on Xiomara.

20 comments:

  1. Sorry to see that. I would have assumed they want more business instead of a cover up to save face. If the manager think you wanted free meal, boy she is over-compensating. It's really insulting. I wouldn't go back either.

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  2. Wow, what an awful night! And so what if all your party hadn't turned up - wouldn't they give the people who were there menus to peruse?? And the sorbet flavours and broken machine - ARGH it's all bad. AND BEING OVERCHARGED! Reminds me of the time I had a horrific experience too, and we decided not to leave a tip as the service was SO BAD... and can you believe this, they ran after us when we left saying hey you didn't leave a tip! LOL.... you just gotta laugh (and cry)!

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  3. Sorry about the huge disappointment! The same thing happened to me and Austin when we dine at Jar. We got seated and it was like they totally forgot about us! No one came with the water or bread or menu. We didn't have a server for a while until we had to flag down someone. The server didn't seem to care that much until he saw Austin taking pictures of the food and asked if he was a Yelper. When he realized we were food bloggers, he was a lot better about the service ha! Too bad this manager at Xiomara doesn't know how quickly word spreads on the internet!

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  4. You were gracious and restrained in these circumstances, especially considering how much you spent for the subpar experience. Kudos for you and boos & hisses for the staff of Xiomara. The manager's letter should be the photo beside the definition of passive/aggressive - she apologizes while inferring that you're overly demanding and they were admirably trying to cope with unforeseen setbacks.

    As you say, there are way too many good restaurants in LA to waste any more time or money on such a place.

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  5. It's sad how the GM came back in a defensive nature with the issues you had that night. Even though the food seemed to be decent, bad service, cold atmosphere can just kill a meal. Why bother giving you coupons if you're never going back. I'm definitely not going there either after reading about it. As you said, plenty of restaurants in LA to waste our good $ here!

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  6. Yikes - that's worse than I even imagined! What an unbelievably frustrating evening! I actually enjoyed my meal there a year and a half ago, but not sure I'd patronize the restaurant again after reading about how poorly they treated you.

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  7. PepsiMonster- That is exactly my point! I would think in times like this you would want new business, more business but that email response definitely doesn't show that. And of course your servers are going to tell you a different story!

    catty- you are right it situations as horrible as this it is best to just laugh, i did more of the get angry when we left than laughed but next time =).

    LAEasyMeals- yeah the power of the internet is underestimated by some businesses. She would have been smart to consider that I wrote to her rather than Yelped but now I yelped and tweeted and blogged! I hope word gets out that Xiomara is no place to spend your money!

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  8. Tangled Noodle- my sentiments exactly!

    Diana- The food was pretty good that was the worst part because I would have loved to come back but with service like that I will not return.

    Cathy- Seriously!

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  9. The customer is always right. That's the way it goes. A prompt sincere apology would have gone a long way. I guess it's too late now!

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  10. This sounds like a nightmare. Thanks for the warning. I can't believe the word "Sorry" never appeared in that letter "your" received.

    Complete mess from top to bottom.

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  11. It's always amazing when customers have to beg for the check. You'd think a restaurant would want your money. There was a time when Xiomara was considered a hot restaurant, with two locations. If they want to keep the one remaining location, they should step up the service, and fast.

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  12. What a mess! They have no clue who they messed with!! The only thing I think you could have done differently is to speak w/the manager while you were receiving poor service.

    now you have me craving mojitos and mango sorbet!

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  13. Well I will definitely cross that one off my list! I am just finishing a post about a similar expirience we had down in SD during resto week! Hope you have a fabulous meal soon!!! Cheers!

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  14. Sook- It is definitely too late for them!

    Phil- A sincere appology would have been perfect, but making me feel like I'm lying and covering up for your servers not a great way to get me to come back.

    Josh- They really should re-evaluate their service standards if they want more business. When I went there was hardly anyone there.

    Jennifer- Bad service is the worst! Sorry about your experience, I look forward to reading about it. Let's grab a meal sometime soon =) hopefully our luck with service will be better.

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  15. Well that is certainly unfortunate. I think they have a location here in Pasadena and if I recall correctly it was one of the most amazingly romantic meals I've ever had. How dissapointing.

    To play devil's advocate for a moment, I've had all those situations that that manager had happen to me, and it does make it extremely difficult to deal with guests while shit is hitting the fan in the back. You're trying not to show the guests that you are FREAKING OUT while micros crashes, and the water heater has bust again, and a small child is crying because they have noticed the dead fish floating in the koi pond and you're trying to fish it out.....I can understand if things go wrong. Sometimes everything happens all at once and it sucks. I can also understand the manager wanting to explain the situation to you, hoping for your understanding, and I can also understand the manager defending their staff.

    HOWEVER, I can't understand why their GM was not more apologetic. The tone of their email is completely blase and insincere, and I can understand your anger. It is so hard to recover your good sentiments about a place once things go so wrong without a sincere apology.

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  16. UGH!! Sorry your experience was so horrible and that management replied in such a poor way. Such a waste of money.

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  17. Dear Letmeeatcake, your review of Xiomara was very informative, and I am so shocked at the response you got from the complaint that you made. I dont know what I would have thought if the reason they did not get you menus was because your entire party had not arrived...sounds like this person responding to your complaint started off on the wrong foot! I respect that you wrote about a negative experience you had, because as unpleasant as it is, it is important for others to know. Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers, Gaby
    You can visit me at http://ptsaldari.posterous.com

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  18. I have wondered from time to time about this place, but figured if it was fantastic, I would've heard a lot of chatter online. Sorry to hear about your meal. Really unfortunate. :(

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  19. That's horrible! It's 2 plus hours you'll never get back. No meal should go over 2 plus hours and...on a Monday night? Please, I'd like to go back and take my sweet time to pay for my meal - after you send me the complimentary mojitos and appetizers!

    Uncle Ollie

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