Neil Jaye wrote
I want to say that the failings (if that is the case) are purely economical.
Yes and no. I think the biggest failing has been a failure to communicate a good reason to go to R's and a good reason to go back.
On the first part, the restaurant has been remarkably aloof. If I were opening a high-end restaurant in Columbus, especially as an unknown commodity, I would make sure my restaurant was front and center at every restaurant event. Cut 10% from design budget and have a publicist full-time for two years. Be seen at the farmer's markets, charity events and anything else. Dinner for 4 as PBS auction item. Every event planner and commercial rep should be in your contact list, get a Xmas basket and have your personal cell #. All sorts of stuff to communicate the idea that you have the best restaurant in town and people should desire to go there.
For the typical diner, the restaurant has always lacked that special something that makes you want to go back. (Will hit the food part of that later.) If you are planning a special event, the restaurant never had the vibe that it would make it special and, lacking the innate ambiance of someplace like the Refectory, it needed it. My memory may be distorted (we usually got tasting menus - see the food part later), but I don't recall an amuse and a pre-dessert or other course for every table. Sweets to take home. Chef hardly ever visited the dining room. All those kind of things that make the dinner itself a special occasion. Yes, the economy dictates less of that, but that is why you have to make extra sure that every customer feels it was money well-spent. There is a pretty standard playbook for all that stuff - follow it.
The kitchen was capable of putting out memorable food. On the other hand, they often seems like they didn't want to. If anything, they underestimated Columbus diners. The first time we did the chef's surprise tasting menu, it was extremely disappointing. A course for the member of our party who had a shellfish allergy was slopped together. I sent back molten chocolate cake as a dessert (WTF - if it is served at TGIFriday's, it ought not to be on your tasting menu.) It was clear that the mindset of the menus and dishes were for diners who were already there (a la Greenbrier) rather than diners who should want to be there.
We had three superlative meals there, best in Columbus meals. In all cases, I talked with the chef and staff well in advance to make it clear that we expected something beyond, even requesting preps with particular ingredients like foie gras or marrow. In all cases, the meal was exceptional. They were also meals that jaded palates enjoyed as well as my extended family who can be more conservative. That type of pre-arrangement is something I am used to doing and I will always laud Rosendales for the great success on those. That said, there was too much of a distance between the quality of those meals and the quality of an a la carte or tasting menu meal.
While not perfect, the downscaling and now loss of a hands-on chef is a loss to the Columbus dining scene.
We need to support places that cater to a different clientele than our personal tastes and financial means may allow and stop putting out the opinion that anything thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too-expensive, too upscale, or whatever is in some way not meant for this town or stupid. And that goes for restaurants, valets, VIP areas, whatever.
Okay, sorry about the rant folksÃ¢â‚¬Â¦