Friday, June 7, 2013
Nashville Food Friday: Miel
Miel is one of those restaurants that have been on my radar forever but I never got around to eating there. Shame on me, right? What kind of food critic am I?! Well lucky for me my dear friend Catie scheduled her birthday dinner there. Celebrating an amazing lady and eating fine french food? I'm in. What we got was an amazing meal followed by some very awkward customer service. The moral of the story is: Do not go to Miel with a 12 person party (even if you call ahead and they say they can handle it).
The decor is pretty sparse and minimal. They did the best they could with cinder block walls, but you can still see that the building is made of cinder block. There is really no good way to dress up cinder blocks, but I think Miel did a really good job of working with what they got. Their outside patio is lovely and secluded and looks like it would be a great date place.
Steve and I arrived a bit earlier than everyone else so we were able to take advantage of their happy hour deal and snag a $5 strawberry mojito. This drink was fresh and the strawberries were sweet. This might be one of the best happy hour cocktails I've had in a while. Probably because you can't get more springy than strawberries. Later on in the evening I ordered an Old Fashioned after someone else ordered it and let me have a taste. It was a great stiff drink; not too sweet the way some bartenders tend to make them.
Miel started us off with an amuse-bouche of pork terrine and cornishon on a cracker. I'm always a fan of chefs that start the meal of with an amuse-bouche. It gives the diner a taste of what is to come and let's us get to know our chef's palate. This was a very simple dish, but it was quite tasty. Everyone at the table enjoyed this.
We ordered escargot for the appetizer. Steve and I haven't had escargot in years and we certainly aren't experts on the dish. I thought the snails were cooked well and tender. I was also a fan that they came already de-shelled. Steve thought that some of the snails had an odd bitter taste, but he liked the texture. But we both agreed that the herb butter sauce served over the escargot was amazing. I even had to ask for another round of bread so I could soak up all the sauce. I'm a dipper at heart, baby.
For dinner I ordered the duck breast (shocker!) and rillette with farro and chow-chow. The duck was cooked to a perfect medium rare with the right color red in the center. I also enjoyed how thinly the breast was sliced. The dish was great, but I felt it was a little small for the $29 price tag.
Steve ordered the scallops with truffle and a lemon preserve. Steve loved this dish, mostly because he is a big fan of lemons. Another friend ordered the same dish and she found the lemon preserve just too sweet and didn't eat it at all. For the price, I felt like they should have served more than just 3 scallops. If they served 4 or 5, I think that would be more of an entree size meal.
For dessert we split the fig bread pudding with caramel sauce. I was impressed because the dessert wasn't really all that sweet. My mouth wasn't blasted with sugar and that was a nice surprise and a very fitting end to the meal. I love anything fig, which is why I ordered this, but I didn't really get any heavy notes of fig. For me, I would have preferred some thick chunks of fig in the pudding, or roasted and served on top. I think this is a dish I'm going to have to make for myself, with the aforementioned amendments.
Everything was great until it was time to pay our checks. But to explain this fully, it requires a bit of back story. Miel is a small restaurant and the birthday girl wanted to make sure they could accommodate a 12 person party. After a bunch of back and forth with the owner, they decided that we would be offered a reduced size prix fixe menu. When we heard about this, we were excited. The birthday girl was supposed to get a copy of the menu the week before the dinner, but she never received one. After emailing with the owner and not getting any responses, she passed this task off to a friend to try and handle. So we were all surprised and confused when we sat down and were handed the regular full menu. Weren't we having a set menu at a preset price? NOPE! I guess Miel forgot all about that.
Ok, so we moved on and made the best of it which was easy to do because everything on their menu sounded amazing. Our waitress was very meticulous about taking orders and did them clockwise around the table. She even asked each person if their ticket was split or shared at the beginning of the meal. Everything seemed under control until our checks arrived. They were all wrong. I think out of our 12 person party, about 8 people had wrong tickets, including our friend Anna who had EVERY dessert on her tab. So when we explained to our waitress what went wrong, she took all the tickets away and promised to come back with them corrected. THEN A LOT OF TIME WENT BY.
She came back and was apologetic and said that the computer had gone haywire and was messing up our tickets. When I got my next ticket, it was also wrong. There was an extra dessert on it and an entree I didn't order. So we told the waitress again, who took our tickets, and then DISAPPEARED AGAIN FOR SOME TIME.
The next ticket I got had a steak and something else on it. Not even close to my meal. The waitress then asked me to tell her exactly what I had so that she could start over and run it as a new ticket. Shouldn't she have that info? Shouldn't this have been done as soon as they realized the computer had gone crazy? Anyway, I listed off my two drinks, appetizer, entree and dessert and she disappeared again. At this point, there were only 4 people left at the table. Everyone else had figured out their checks, paid and went home. Around this time the manager came over and apologized for the computer issues.
When she and the manager brought back the revised ticket, she said they had already charged it to a card. It wasn't my card, but Steve's. Do we look the same? Do I look like a Steve? So, Steve paid for my dinner and I had to pay for his. When I told the staff that I didn't appreciate it because my meal was more expensive than his and he shouldn't have to pay for what he didn't eat, THEY OFFERED TO CHARGE MY CARD MORE AND GIVE ME CASH TO PAY STEVE BACK. Umm.... nope. A restaurant is not an ATM. Steve of course didn't mind paying for my meal, but it's the principle that confuses me. This is where after getting 4 different tickets and a mix-up they should have offered to comp something to make up the difference, not to mention that we were there for at least 45 minutes trying to pay and leave. WE ARE TRYING TO GIVE YOU OUR MONEY- WHY U NO TAKE MONEY?!
The staff at Miel told us their computer isn't setup to do split tickets. I find that odd, but whatever. The worst part is we had planned around this fiasco from the beginning by agreeing to a set fixed-price menu that they never provided. The staff was apologetic, but I felt they could have done more on the customer service front. You see that the natives are getting restless? Bring them a drink. You keep charging a bunch of people for a creme brulee that they didn't order and you can't figure it out? Just comp the mystery brulee and move on.
Honestly, the food was amazing. The chefs are clearly doing something right. And I would totally go back to eat there, but I would not go with a party larger than 4. They seem unable to handle that.