Last night my wife and I had dinner at Bogie’s, a small San Rafael restaurant now run by Luc Pouget, a pétanque playmate.
I consider Luc a friend and I was predisposed to like his offerings, but as a reporter I am bound to put my personal feelings aside and be as impartial as can be.
When evaluating a dining establishment, my judgment is basically formed by two almost equal criteria: food and service.
The rest (noise level or atmosphere) while being important does not carry as much weight.
After having made reservations, we promptly arrived at the restaurant at 6:30 p.m.
We were met in the dining room by Luc who took a few minutes out of the kitchen to greet us.
Greetings are important to me. If we are properly greeted and promptly shown to a table, it shows that the restaurant is primed for business and ready to take care of its customers.
But last night no waiter was readily apparent and we were left to pick our own table.
Let me say right away that the biggest shortcoming of Bogie’s is service, or lack thereof. It desperately cries for a professional waiter (preferably a waitress) and we never saw one, not even the shadow of one.
After sitting at a table (in a sparsely occupied dining room) we had to wait a long time to be offered menus.
We finally picked Marinated Calamari Salad and Escargots en croute for appetizers, but again we had to wait about twenty-five minutes for them to materialize.
A rather long waiting time for items that should have been already prepped in the kitchen.
The salad alas, was not properly seasoned and had to be sent back to the kitchen for a booster shot of dressing.
The escargots were equally uninspired. They were served in little pastry shells while drowning in a rather insipid sauce.
To me, there is only one way to serve escargots: bathed with butter, parsley and garlic. That’s it.
We also had to beg for water and bread, and wine seemed to have skipped the waitperson’s mind altogether. We had to remind him to bring it over.
In the dining room incidentally, we noticed and said hello to Catherine and Jean-Claude Bunand and Eve and Antoine Lofaro.
For our main course, we chose the Rib Eye steak and the Duck breast (magret).
I am pleased to report that the steak was tender, cooked to perfection and that the duck breast was equally tasty.
This being said, I cannot decently give this place my seal of approval.
I wanted to like this restaurant and sing its praises.
I would have liked to make it a regular hangout like Cheers “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad that you came”.
But a place where everybody knows your name should also serve good food and provide decent service.
And the latter was definitely hard to spot.
One final unfortunate detail.
After paying in cash and intending to leave a generous tip in spite of it all, I waited a long time to see my change.
When nothing materialized, I had to walk to the cash register and demand my due.
Not good! This casual attitude doesn’t reflect well on the establishment.
In order to survive, Bogie’s will definitely have to hire a competent waitperson (preferably of the female persuasion) and up its game in the kitchen.
I wish Bogie’s all the luck in the world, but I am afraid that it is going to be a long uphill battle.