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Monday, October 24, 2011

Dining Review: The Brown Derby for Dinner (Worst Dining Experience to Date)

I'd been to the Brown Derby once before for lunch.  It was a very nice experience with good food and good service.  It was basically what you would expect from a signature dining experience at Disney World.

On my current trip we decided to try The Brown Derby for dinner.  We were really looking forward to considering our previous experience with the Derby.  In truth we were in for an exceptional experience that we will never forget.

We had an ADR for 6:25. My wife really wasn't feeling well so I asked if we could postpone our ADR.  The girl at the check in counter had no problem with it and said she'd put our ADR on hold. I actually thought this would work to our advantage because the first showing of Fantasmic was at 7:30 and I expected the place to empty out a little.  I had no idea what kind of impact would result from this decision.

At 7:10 my wife was feeling better so we headed over and got seated by 7:15.  Within a couple of minutes our server came over and introduced himself and took our soft drink orders.  At around 7:20 he came back and took our app orders.  At this point I got an odd feeling.  Something seemed off.  He was not following the old cookie cutter Disney dining process.  Instead of waiting and combining our drink (alcohol not soft drink), app, and main course order, he broke this up.  We ended up ordering our alcohol order with our main course.  This caused issues later.

about five minutes later he comes back to get our main course order and get our alcohol order.  Around 7:30 we get our Cobb Salads but no drinks.  A few minutes later the drinks come.  Overall things are a little slow and confused at this point but we were in no rush. Before asking if we need anything else he takes off and ignores our empty soda glasses.

Forty minutes (thirty minutes after going dry) after the start of our meal we get a drink refill. At least that's what it was supposed to be.  My wife got a Sprite (correct). I got an iced tea (no one at our table was drinking iced tea.  I was drinking Sprite).  My niece got what appeared to be water (correct).  My niece proceeds to take a sip of her water and nearly spits it across the table.  Her water was not water but a Sprite.

At this point our waiter's fast pass for Toy Story must have been up because he disappears for thirty five minutes.  I am not kidding THIRTY FIVE MINUTES.  That means it took one hour and fifteen minutes to get our main course.  Our waiter mumbled something that none of us could make out and then took off.

I take a bite of my's hardly even warm.  I try the potatoes...less warm.  I try the green beans...cold.  My wife and nieces food...cold.  By the consistency of the sauce on my lamb I estimate it sat under a heating lamp for a very, very long time.

I sit there for five minutes with my hands in my lap before our waiter appears, looks at us, says nothing, and then runs away.

At this point I feel my blood pressure rising.

At the one hour and twenty minute mark he checks with the table next to us, looks at us,  makes eye contact with my niece and then starts to run away.  My niece bursts out laughing.  This causes him to stop, look back, and then continue his retreat.

At the one hour and twenty five minute mark he reappears.  Takes my wife and niece's plate.  Comes to me and asks if I am done.  I have a full plate of cold food that I have hardly touched since it arrived.  Wouldn't you think you should ask if the food is okay? I let him take the food.  I am in such shock my mind starts to shut down.

At the one hour and thirty minute mark he reappears with some desert menus and vanishes.

He reappears a couple of minutes later to take our desert order.  Order all of our deserts to go.

He shows up with the deserts and bill at at the one hour and forty minute mark.  At this point my wife offers to take care of the rest because she can tell that if I stay in my seat any longer I'm going to kill and eat the waiter so I can eat something warm.

My wife and niece finally escape the Brown Derby after a total of one hour and fifty minutes.

In the meantime I head right to guest relations.  After forty plus dining experiences in WDW I am making my first trip to guest relations to lodge a complaint.  I've never gone to guest services to complain about anything before.  This dining experience was so outstanding bad I could not sit back and let it go.  Normally I would simply write up a bad review and be done with it.  This was so bad it needed more.

I didn't ask for a refund or anything like that. I kept a cool head and tried not to laugh at the absurdity of what just took place as I relayed the details to college program cast member from Virgina Tech who took notes.

I wish this experience ended at that.  Yes there is more.  When I got back to my room I went to have desert.  I had a piece of grape fruit upside down cake.  Yes our waiter dumped my slice of cake into the box perfectly upside down.

I don't know what it was about us that so offended this waiter.  I do know that his kind service earned a 10% tip on a $240 bill.  We normally would have tipped 25% on a bill of that size.  Now some people would wonder why we didn't just blow him off.  Both my wife and I have working in the food service industry.  We always leave some kind of tip.  Maybe he was just  having a really bad day and our stiffing him a tip would cause him to take it out on another table.  Granted he should be more professional than that but he had already proved that he was not capable of being professional.

Final Note:  Just to drive home how bad this experience was - I took the time out of my vacation to write this review.  It was so bad I could not wait.

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