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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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Readers Blog: Your Milwaukee Dining - Local Restaurant Reviews

Good things comes to those who wait and wait and wait..(The Pasta Tree)

One of the things we enjoy most about Your Milwaukee Dining are the recommendations, observations and overall feedback from our readers and followers. We have visited a number of restaurants based solely on emails and tweets from all of you. That’s actually one reason you’re reading this article right now. A few weeks ago I received a number of messages about Pasta Tree on Farwell. While their food always seems to be absolutely spot on and perfectly prepared the service issues have repeatedly dominated the Pasta Tree conversation.


So with that we headed to Pasta Tree on a Saturday night with 8pm reservations to see if the service troubles were common or just something that happen to pop up every now and there.

Here we go:

7:58pm: We arrived at the restaurant for our 8pm reservations and were immediately greeted and seated in the north dining room where most tables were full and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

8:10pm: Our server introduced himself and took our drink orders as we continued to look over the menu and narrow down our choices.

8:20pm: The server returned with drinks and was quickly asked, “what are you having”?  I politely asked if the restaurant had any special dishes for the evening and if he could please tell me about those. He began to rattle offabout 4 or 5 outstanding sounding dishes including a Soft Shell Crab option. (I started to get nervous at this point, as I had been there for 20 minutes and the server was about to completely skip over the special dishes for the evening). After hearing about all of our options we decided to  stick with our original choices of of Scallops alla Abruzzo ($19) and Shrimp Pesto Linguini ($20)

8:25pm: Our appetizers of Carrot Soup and a Caesar Salad arrived and were enjoyed as  expected.

Let the waiting game begin

8:25pm – 9:10pm: During this time the table was cleared, waters were re-filled and I wish there was more to say, but there’s not. We were promised our dishes were coming any minute and eventually they did,  several “any minutes” later.

9:10 pm: Two dishes were brought out to the table and before the second entrée hit the table I knew something was wrong. We quickly told the server that was not what we ordered and he seemed shocked. He apologized for the one incorrect dish and confirmed the other dish was accurate, the lasagna? I felt so defeated and told him I had actually ordered the Shrimp Pesto Linguini and he asked if I was sure. I was very sure and I walked him through our previous conversation step-by-step. He hurried off to the kitchen to correct the error. (Eventually returning to say that Chef had made a mistake with both of our dishes, but didn’t offer any apologies.)

9:15pm: I took a moment to look around the dining room and noticed that it had begun to clear out. I assumed this was a good sign for our wait time and got excited for our long awaited meal.

9:25pm: So 1 hour and 25 minutes after arriving for our meal the correct dishes arrived and it was time to enjoy our food. I asked for a small bit of salt to add to the dish and the eating commenced. Needless to say the hunger at the table had grown exponentially. I actually excused myself from the table and went to speak with the Manager. I did something completely out of the norm and explained to him why we were dining at the restaurant and informed him about the service issues we had consistently heard about it. I wanted him to know what exactly I was experiencing and let him know that had it not been for informing our readers about the service I would have left an hour ago. (I struggled to decide if I was doing the right thing by telling him this, but I couldn’t just leave without telling someone at the restaurant what was happening and at least give him a chance to correct any mistakes.  I knew I couldn’t be the only one in the restaurant suffering from their off night.)

9:35pm: It may seem tedious at this point, but after 10 minutes and 2 reminders the requested salt finally made its way to our table.

9:45pm: One hour and 45 minutes after arriving I asked the server for the bill. It was the most painful $78 bill I can ever recall paying. Not once did we receive apologies from the server or any staff member. In fact what I will remember most about the evening are the words spoken by the server as he left with my credit card, “This was ridiculous tonight, I know”.
And with that my Pasta Tree experience was over. 1 hour and 45 minutes I won’t be able to get back. I can’t say I will be back this year to do a follow up review either..it was just that bad.

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Talkbacks

LMT | June 29, 2011 at 12:03 p.m. (report)

Very informative and interesting blog entry. I would be lying if I said I was shocked to hear that the experience went so terribly. My boyfriend and I had dinner at the Pasta Tree just a couple of months ago. The food? Tremendous, hot, and incredibly satisfying. The service? About as bad as it gets.

My boyfriend and I both work in the service industry, so we love talking with wait staff, bartenders, etc. when we are out. We love going out to eat. My feeling about restaurants is that you can have a top-notch product but your establishment is only as successful as your staff. A crappy staff that doesn't care about the work or turning first-time customers into regulars really ruins the opportunity for a restaurant to be a hit in this city.

Hopefully mangers from The Pasta Tree will read your article and subsequent comments to effect some change.

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Jimmy_Jones | June 13, 2011 at 4:16 p.m. (report)

I hate to pile on but I have to agree about the service issues. They have been the most over-hyped restaurant in Milwaukee for several years... I still wonder how they stay open.

Oh yeah, overcharging for pasta.

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suzaloo | June 12, 2011 at 9:37 a.m. (report)

While the food is always excellent whenever we go there, I'm afraid the wait times are terrible. We've always had excellent servers, but just as mentioned in the article the time it takes for your entree to hit the table is just ridiculous. I know of several restaurants with smaller kitchens that manage time better.

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thizgirl | June 10, 2011 at 3:52 p.m. (report)

36032 That is an obscene amount of time to wait for pasta! I still can't believe there were no apologies made or a retribution of some sort. Bad business!

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Rob | June 10, 2011 at 2:55 p.m. (report)

I was there one time.. The server was very nice the whole time... until we declined dessert. When we didn't want dessert, the server seemed to be very offended. It was very odd.

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