CHATEAU ALIK: CONFUSION AND CHAOS

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I don’t normally post negative reviews, mostly because I’d rather tell people what they should try instead of what they should avoid. But, based on my experience yesterday, I’m compelled to write something now.

Chateau de Alik is a restaurant in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn, and the experience I had yesterday might have been the most hilariously terrible level of service I’ve ever experienced at a “high end” restaurant. For the most part, the restaurant is like any typical russian restaurant in the Sheepshead Bay/Brighton Beach area. Gaudy aesthetics, a menu with no clear theme, and waiters who tend to cater better to other Russians than to Americans. Considering my whole family is from Russia, I figured I’d be getting decent service, but what followed could only be found in a slapstick comedy.

Our reservations were for 4:30, and we were informed that there is a big party scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and that we need to be finished eating by then. with two and a half hours, I figured that was fine, there was only five of us, how long could it really take to get through a three course meal? The answer is two hours and fifteen minutes when your waiters forget to serve you. As we were seated we were given three menus, all in russian, which my brother and I can barely read. It took five minutes for the waiter to actually bring two more menus for us, and we just happened to luck out that they ran out of russian menus and “had to” give us the english ones.

The menu itself is all over the place, it seems like the chef knew he wanted to have expensive dishes on the menu, and based the entire menu on that alone. There’s nothing that actually brought the menu together. There were french dishes, and italian dishes, and russian dishes. The next issue is there was no separation between appetizers that are meant for a single person and appetizer that were meant to be shared with the table. We ordered four appetizers, tuna tartar, escargot, smoked bacon and tomato salad, and fried calamari. The escargot and tartar were tiny dishes, with barely enough food on the plates to share. the salad and calamari on the other hand were enormous. Unfortunately the former were meant to be shared and the latter were for individual people.

Now the service, this is where we really had some fun. Now I will qualify what follows by saying that there was a large party for a one-year old being prepped while we were eating so the waiters were distracted. Having said that, if your staff can’t handle serving a table while preparing for an event, then you really shouldn’t be taking reservations. Our waiter seemed particularly clueless. It started with a complete lack of understanding of what my brother and I were trying to order, because we were ordering in English. It got to the point where we had to point at things on the menu for him to know what we wanted. As orders would finally come in, they would not come in all at once. Half the table would be well into eating their appetizers before the other half got anything. My brother suffered in particular, as he ordered the bacon salad, which they clearly forgot to make. As every other appetizer was almost eaten, we finally got a hold of our waiter and told him that the salad had not been brought yet. Turns out, it takes 30 minutes to cook bacon, at least that’s what the message from the kitchen to us was, that “they were still cooking the bacon.” More realistically, they obviously forgot. My brother then asked for water, and instead of bringing a pitcher to pour for the table, they took his glass away and returned it filled with water. Instead of making the waiter take four more trips to refill all our other glasses, we asked for some water to just be brought to the table. They brought sealed bottle of Voss water… and then charged us $4.50 per bottle. We eventually finished our appetizers and waited a further 30 minutes before the entrees would be served. Once again they were not served simultaneously and there would be some people eating, while others weren’t. Finally, when we tried ordering dessert, the waiters did not know what was on their own menu. They were out of two of the options and were offering desserts made at a completely different establishment. This was all topped off by the fact that at all times half the staff was just standing around chatting and half was running around setting up for the party. We’d have to wave our hands frantically for anyone to notice us and two different times things were dropped right behind us. My brother and I were dying of laughter by the end of this meal. The meal reached the point of being one of those movies that are so awful that they become hilarious.

I would say that the food was a small redeeming factor but it really wasn’t. It’s not that the food was bad, it was mostly adequate, but it wasn’t the quality of food one would expect for the prices that were being charged. The sauce for the calamari was so chunky and unsausy that you couldn’t really dip anything into it. At one point I just forked out a huge piece of tomato so I could at least have some of the dip with my calamari. My brother had rice with his entree, some of which seemed undercooked as he had a bit of crunchy rice. To boot, his scallops had little bits of crunch on them. We couldn’t tell if the scallops were poorly washed and still had some sand, or if the top was so over cooked that we were crunching on little burnt pieces of the scallop. I ordered a rack of lambs, and though there was plenty of food on the plate, the lamb was not uniformly cooked. I asked for medium-rare and while one my cuts was medium-rare the second was very clearly medium, with the entire center being a solid pink.

Perhaps it was a bad night, perhaps the experience is better for a large party than for a small one. Whatever the issue was for the staff that night, it was enough to ensure that I will never willingly return. As my brother and I exited the restaurant, we noticed that directly adjacent to Chateau de Alik, was an authentic looking chinese restaurant, meat hanging in the window and all. We both thought the same thing, that we’d have rather gone there. suffice it to say, I won’t be returning and I plan to actively tell people to avoid this place unless they want a good laugh or they’re willing to shell out a lot of money for a mediocre experience.

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