An Unfortunate Truth

This week, Steve and I had to settle a bet.

There is a popular restaurant in Astoria called Locale.  I have been there a couple of times for birthday parties or appetizers and cocktails.  Once, a couple of years ago Steve and I went there for dinner because it was recommended by a friend (thanks Meryl).  I recall us having a great time and enjoying our meal.  Steve remembers the meal being mediocre and not enjoying the overall experience.  After debating whose memory was correct we decided to settle this with a dinner rematch.

Now that we are in our 30’s we made fun of ourselves for making an early 6:30 dinner reservation.  To our dismay, there actually was an EARLY BIRD menu!!!  Gotta love the nail in the coffin.  But it was a pretty good deal, $25.00 for a three course meal.  Since this was a debate on the quality of the restaurant, we skipped the prix fixe and decided to order off the menu.  I was excited to get started because I know so many Astorians that love this place!

We liked our first impression of the restaurant.  It has exposed brick walls,  a plush red banquette, large windows, simple but elegant tables and chairs, and chic lighting fixtures.  The music was a great mix of jazz and classic rock.  Our waiter was very friendly and attentive and started us off with two cocktails.

         

We ordered the Writer’s Block and The Skinny Girl.  The brown butter reduction in the Writer’s block left Steve’s mouth feeling greasy and there was no sign of vermouth or campari on the palate; there might as well have been none at all.  Overtime the reduction began to collect and form a strange looking, chunky foam that made it very unappetizing to look at.  We applaud their creativity but it’s time to take this one back to the drawing board.  The Skinny girl was mediocre.  It had a bit of a processed taste from the cucumber vodka, which took away from the anticipated refreshing sensation.  Overall….we weren’t thrilled.

And again….the wine list was awful!  We really need to go on a wine search because Astoria locations are getting lazy in the vino department.  I got a glass of  Shiraz knowing it would probably be bad and Steve took the safe route and grabbed a beer.

So far, Steve was winning this round, but I was holding out for the food!

For starters, we shared the heirloom tomato salad.  While the marinated feta was mouthwatering, unfortunately the tomatoes were hard and crunchy because they weren’t ripe yet!  They also sliced up some beefsteak tomatoes and mixed those on to the plate….a BIG no-no for heirloom fans.

Next, we shared a bowl of homemade gnocchi with pea puree, shallots and wild sage emulsion. Sounds great right?  Imagine how disappointing it is when it is not good at all!  Our hearts broke over this dish.  The gnocchi itself had NO FLAVOR.  Texture wise it was spot on, but that meant nothing when you couldn’t really taste anything.  I was fighting Steve for the fried onions on top just so I could get some sort of taste in my mouth.

By the time dinner came I already gave up.  My wine was horrible and I didn’t enjoy both starting dishes.  I still had a small window of hope for our main course but that was quickly crushed.

       

We both ordered specials.  I got the hanger steak with a blue cheese sauce and Steve got a pork loin with mashed potatoes and arugula.  My steak dish was originally coming with broccoli and I asked if I could switch my vegetable for spinach.  The waiter said no, they do not do any substitutions.

Awesome.

After the waiter spoke to the chef they agreed that they could give me a mesclun salad instead.

As you can tell by the photo, all I could taste was blue cheese sauce.  It was abundant and overwhelming.  I was scrapping the sauce off the meat but I still had trouble tasting my steak.  Steve’s pork chop was over cooked and lacked flavor.  However, the mashed potatoes were pretty darn good!

In this case, Steve’s memory won.

Locale is a cute spot in the heart of Astoria and the atmosphere is very welcoming.  But the food is disappointing….and at those prices, you would expect much more.

**Out of a possible 5 stars, here’s what we thought….

Décor: 4 star                 Service: 3 stars

Beverage List: 2 star           Food: 1 stars

Location: 3 star            Overall: 2 stars

Cost: $30 – $50  per person

Locale

3302 34th Ave
Astoria, NY 11106
Neighborhood: Astoria

(718) 729-9080

After reading our blog, here is a response we received from the owner (our response to him is also below):

hi liz and steve,

my name is johnny i’m the owner of locale. first of all i’d like to thank you for visiting locale. i’d to reply to your by asking you what your culinary background is. are you well traveled? are you well versed in food and wine? do you have any formal training? how have you lived in new york? by your knowlegde of food and wine it seems to me maybe you were brought up on applebees and olive garden. being so maybe you should stick to mcdonalds and stay out of real restaorants. you have no idea how hard a restaurant staff works but i can assure you its harder than sitting down and writing a blog. one more thing the best sushi in astoria is JJ’s at 31ave and 38th st this is almost as good as yasuda in manhattan not wattawa which is asian fusion. if you would like to reply to me on my email i can be reached at lic.rest@yahoo.com

Hello Johnny,

Thank you for your response.  I can see how our experience and review may have upset you.  We completely understand the difficulties and pressures that are involved in running a restaurant, as we both have done so for many years. Our descriptions were not exaggerated or engineered to ruin you; it was simply an honest representation of our experience as a guest.

With the accessibility of Yelp, Open Table and personal blogs there are many opportunities for people to share their opinions.  This information is invaluable, both good and bad because it gives you the opportunity to improve and to revel in your successes. I am quite sure that this is not the last review you will read, so instead of attacking your guests, try taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

Your patrons should not have to hold a culinary degree to dine at your restaurant. In fact, it would be better (not worse) for you if they didn’t; given the many responses we received in agreement with our complaints.  If we ate at Applebee’s, then to us Locale, would be better….not worse. It’s a shame that your response has now destroyed any possibility of turning a negative into a positive. We can’t speak for our readers but we don’t imagine this will put you or your establishment in a good light.

We will try JJ’s, thank you for the recommendation.

Liz and Steve

See other Locale reviews at:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/locale-astoria

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3 thoughts on “An Unfortunate Truth

  1. hi liz and steve,
    my name is johnny i’m the owner of locale. first of all i’d like to thank you for visiting locale. i’d to reply to your by asking you what your culinary background is. are you well traveled? are you well versed in food and wine? do you have any formal training? how have you lived in new york? by your knowlegde of food and wine it seems to me maybe you were brought up on applebees and olive garden. being so maybe you should stick to mcdonalds and stay out of real restaorants. you have no idea how hard a restaurant staff works but i can assure you its harder than sitting down and writing a blog. one more thing the best sushi in astoria is JJ’s at 31ave and 38th st this is almost as good as yasuda in manhattan not wattawa which is asian fusion. if you would like to reply to me on my email i can be reached at lic.rest@yahoo.com

    • Hello Johnny,
      Thank you for your response. I can see how our experience and review may have upset you. We completely understand the difficulties and pressures that are involved in running a restaurant, as we both have done so for many years. Our descriptions were not exaggerated or engineered to ruin you; it was simply an honest representation of our experience as a guest.
      With the accessibility of Yelp, Open Table and personal blogs there are many opportunities for people to share their opinions. This information is invaluable, both good and bad because it gives you the opportunity to improve and to revel in your successes. I am quite sure that this is not the last review you will read, so instead of attacking your guests, try taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.
      Your patrons should not have to hold a culinary degree to dine at your restaurant. In fact, it would be better (not worse) for you if they didn’t; given the many responses we received in agreement with our complaints. If we ate at Applebee’s, then to us Locale, would be better….not worse. It’s a shame that your response has now destroyed any possibility of turning a negative into a positive. We can’t speak for our readers but we don’t imagine this will put you or your establishment in a good light.
      We will try JJ’s, thank you for the recommendation.
      Liz and Steve

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