I get it, believe me I do. Not one single person wants to work on a holiday; especially one like Thanksgiving which has traditionally been sacred in every single sector except the restaurant business. I’ve worked holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas before and it wasn’t pleasant. When I worked the holidays I worked in an industry which was service related but I received no tips on top of my salary. However, because Thanksgiving has been a traditionally busy day for restaurants some choose to remain open and one of those restaurants is The Lexington in St. Paul.
We’ve been to The Lexington several times over the last decade for Thanksgiving and we’ve always been more than pleased by the atmosphere, service and especially the food. In fact, we were so very pleased with the service we’ve recommended it to countless others suggesting it as an excellent place for them to spend Thanksgivings without spending gobs of money cooking for very few people, or none at all.
We were always thrilled by the generous servings of soup and the excellent Caesar salads especially topped with a healthy dose of anchovies and a very tasty dressing. The turkey dinner was just like everyone expected: tons of tender turkey doused in gravy, a pile of homemade mashed potatoes with skins included, soft and fluffy dressing, some candied yams and a side of cranberry sauce all for a very reasonable price. While the food has never been anything but traditional–no avant-garde anything here–it was just what hit the spot on Thanksgiving for those grateful individuals who were either incapable or unwilling to cook on a holiday.
However for all those great Thanksgiving dinners we’ve had over the years we’ve been visiting The Lexington on Thanksgiving, it was all wiped away with one careless and basically miserable experience we had this past Thursday.
We arrived 10 minutes or so before our 3:30 reservation. The restaurant was just as crowded as years passed. While the many tables around us were promptly and adequately served, we were neglected time and time again. Our server, while friendly, was either spread too thin or simply could not be bothered to serve two and a half people who weren’t sucking down glass after glass of wine poured from the bottle proudly situated in the center of the table knowing she wouldn’t get as big of a tip. Either way I watched as several tables around us, served by other far more willing and competent staff members, were waited on many more times than we were. In fact, one particular table of ~10 had a server who visited six times in between two of the seven times our server visited our table the entire meal. I too would have liked to have had drink refills, additional baskets of bread, and even butter delivered without asking. Heck, anchovies and croutons and maybe even some dressing would have been nice on my salad too. However the service is only half of the equation.
Service issues aside, the food wasn’t even remotely close to what it had been and it certainly wasn’t anywhere near what a blind and deaf 90 year old great-grandmother could have done with one arm, three fingers and no cookbook. The turkey and gravy were fine. Nothing spectacular and certainly underseasoned but good enough for someone who doesn’t care much about turkey and gravy. However the sides were miserable. I think I could have had better sides at Rack Shack BBQ and that’s saying a lot.
The yams were undercooked and, for the most part, left a sharp and bitter aftertaste. The mashed potatoes were starchy and there were too many skin pieces making them take on a pink hue. The dressing, normally fluffy and and wonderful, was overcooked and dry. Even the gravy slathered all over the dressing didn’t make it worth eating. The cranberry sauce was also fine, nothing special there but it’s definitely not something which can possibly save the rest of your huge Thanksgiving failure.
The pumpkin pie you served me that night was bland and goopy. Those are two words no one should ever use to describe pumpkin pie, let alone pumpkin pie at a restaurant. I should not have ever thought to myself, “I think a slice of Cub’s $2.99 pumpkin pie would be nice right about now,” unfortunately I had to this year. How disappointing.
But the biggest insult came when I paid the bill and found I was charged over $2 for a soda water with a lime. While I realize you believe The Lexington is somehow worthy enough to charge people nearly $40 for a steak ($36! for a pathetic 6oz filet on Thanksgiving) on any given night, how dare you charge people for something that takes nearly nothing off your bottom line?
While I have nitpicked a bit here, I seriously hope you make some serious changes to your future Thanksgiving dinner services. You have most certainly lost one of your biggest advocates and while that may not mean much to The Lexington, it should. I shouldn’t need to bring 10+ people and request several bottles of wine to get even the most basic level of service. I should never have to beg for refills of bread, soda water which you will then later charge me soft drink prices for choosing, and have to flag down our waitress who was generally M.I.A. to ask for butter for the bread which we also begged to have delivered. You should never had sent overcooked and dry dressing to my table and my salad should have come with dressing and anchovies by default–let alone croutons and flavor.
I hope the $69+ you took from us was worth never having another dollar leave my pocket and end up in yours again. Happy Thanksgiving.
What did you do for Thanksgiving dinner? Did you go out to eat? Have you done so before or do you always eat a traditional meal with family and/or friends at someone’s home? Have you ever had an absolutely miserable experience at a restaurant which made you never want to return? Whatever you have to say about this open letter to The Lexington in St Paul go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.