Monday, September 12, 2011

Young Alfred: A little too green

It's got to be tough for city restaurants - the competition, reputations and trying to get the corporates away from their go-to, safe dining spots. And it can't be any easier for casual eating places, with sky-high rents and volatile crowds complicating everything from staffing to menus.

I've been to Young Alfred in Customs House a few times; work lunches mostly, and found them decent for their price point, but a little lacking in warmth, experience and uniqueness. And after hearing rumours about new management and help in the kitchen, I was hoping things would have improved significantly.

Pumpkin ravioli with sage and burnt butter from Young Alfred, Customs House, Sydney
When we entered one Friday night just post peak dinner hour, the almost empty dining room didn't bode well. After a good minutes' loitering at the front desk watching the staff and two other rather reserved groups, we were seated at a dark, candle-free table for two by seemingly indifferent wait staff.

There were specials announced and tap water brought to the table, but as we made our booze-free order (had just come from a boozy party), the dismal service seemed to get worse.

Food took a long time to arrive - even though we had only ordered mains and a side; or indeed, perhaps for that reason. For all the faults of the service, we did get cracked black pepper and the pumpkin ravioli was divine.

Smooth pasta with a rich pumpkin filling and decadent butter sauce, I always note that the small five pasta serves of ravioli (and most other filled pastas) are not ideal orders for hungry, male appetites.

Grilled pork cutlet with polenta and snow peas
I went for an uncharacteristic specials order and was justly rewarded with a big hunk of tender grilled pork. With crisp snow peas and a not too creamy wet polenta beneath, it was a pleasant and very homely main that satisfied me nicely.

Steamed broccoli side
The side of broccoli was quite overcooked, but still eaten by the hungry ravioli orderer and somewhat preferable to the coolness of the staff. By this point of the night, with still a large group lingering over the end of a meal, the staff had all but disappeared; making requesting the bill and paying a little difficult.

After too long, we did it bistro style and went up to the counter to ask for the bill, and got out of there quick-smart. While the food was high quality and mostly very tasty, service at Young Alfred leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps time and experience can fix it, but it's not growing on me in the meantime.

Young Alfred on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Bad service always ruins a meal for me.

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

I haven't eaten here for a while, but a friend who ate here with a moderate-size work group had the same issues with service as you. They did like the food, but weren't impressed due to the service aspect.

Dumpling Girl said...

What a shame that the service was terrible, as the pumpkim ravioli looked great.

Anonymous said...

read in the paper yesterday that the place is closing down along with bilsons......

JB said...

Pity about the bad service. Always ruins a good meal.

A shame too, it's a nice space they have there.

gastronomous anonymous said...

thats a shame the service was terrible! i havent eaten here for years! but like u have always gone for lunch...

Tina said...

Hi lateraleating - Sometimes you can let it slide, but this occasion wasn't one of those times.

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse - Yeah, it's hard to go back for the food when you know what the service is like.

Hi Dumpling Girl - It was; really rich and luxurious (could have easily eaten two plates!)

Hi Anonymous - I heard Bilson's Number 1 Wine Bar is done; dunno about this place.

Hi JB - Total shame as it's such a beautiful space. Maybe they think they can get away with it as a result...?

Hi gastronomous anonymous - Yeah, at lunch with a big group I don't think the service is as obvious vs night time as a couple.


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