For this Thanksgiving, Joel and I went our separate ways to visit our families — Joel to Chicago and I, Atlanta. After a few days of eating the never ending Thanksgiving leftovers, my family and I decided to go out for dinner at the newly anticipated Atlanta version of the New York City restaurant, Spice Market. The owner, Jean-Georges Vongerichten teamed up with W hotels to place the Spice Market franchise in all W hotels. With Vongerichten being the food heavyweight that he is in NY, we thought this was sure to be a slam dunk.
We arrived on time and were seated in the nearly empty restaurant at a booth. The booth was a bit small for the family style of serving and our family of 5, but we thought we’d make it work. We ordered a variety to start including the Vietnamese Spring Roll, Papaya Salad, Calamari and a Lobster Roll. The spring rolls were typical — fried and crispy. The Calamari was the total opposite: mushy and chewy with about 7 pieces total on the plate.
As things are served family style, food comes out when it is ready in the kitchen. So, next oddly enough came my brothers entree of Pork Vindaloo. It was about 5 more minutes before the rest of our meals showed up while he ate his entree. Finally came the rest of the order: Green Curry with (a measly amount of) Vegetables, Steamed Lobster, Steamed Red Snapper, Onion and Chili Crusted Short Ribs, and Spicy Shanghai Noodles. All was ok. The amount of short ribs in the order was disappointing and much less than the NY version. The salad served with the lobster was so salty, that we all tried it and had to spit it out. And when told about how terrible it was, the management didn’t seem to understand our dismay and simply brought us a new one (still salty) to make it up to us.
Also trying to make it up to us, the management pulled out the go to — “make your customer feel better about the crappy meal they just had” desert trick; We were served some of their signature desserts, free of charge. The desert, like most of the meal was sub par; nothing special and far from the quality put out in the flagship NYC restaurant. The service was terrible and the runners were horrid: they kept bringing us hot plates and didn’t place them on the table — instead, they were handed to us.
I feel that service is half of a pleasant or unpleasant experience in a restaurant. When the service and the food are sub par, it’s a sure sign I won’t be going back or recommending that anyone go there. If I could, I’d tell Jean-George that he needs to keep a careful eye on his investments outside of NY, especially if he wants his name associated with them.