What’s one of the big new name restaurants to hit Wichita, KS? None other than AVI Seafood and Chophouse.
They are located in Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview. I really wanted to check this place out so I enlisted the assistance of a longtime guest diner who has joined in on Letters A-I: Tiffany. We went to AVI on New Year’s Eve, a night where many restaurants “step their game up” so to speak.
Before all that, I purchased a gift voucher from Restaurants.com for around $6. It gave me $50 off my meal as long as I spend $100. How hard could it be for two people to ring up a $100 tab at a high end restaurant? Well on New Year's Eve, it was VERY hard.
We had reservations for 9 pm. Arrive just a few minutes before and they seat us right away. So far so good. We sit there and wait for our server to come take our drink orders. About five minutes go buy and a server comes up and asks "Have you been helped yet?". We answer no and he replies ok and says somebody will be right with us. Tick tock..... tick tock.... More time goes by. The same server comes by about five more minutes later and says, "You guys still haven't been helped yet? He'll be here in just a minute. If not, I'll help you." Ok, not off to a good start.
A couple minutes and finally our server comes out. We immediately order some crab cakes not sure if we’d ever see our server again. He comes back shortly to take our drink order and we each order a cocktail and a glass of wine along with an order of lobster rolls (which is a lettuce wrap but with lobster inside).
Our crab cakes come out. At this time, we decide to order two bowls of their lobster bisque soup. Regarding the crab cakes, I was told by a friend that the crab cakes at AVI were the best in Wichita. After a couple bites, Tiffany didn't think they were. She thought the ones from Bonefish were much better. Her quote: "They taste like cheeseburgers" as if they were cooked on the same grill next to one. I thought they were ok, nothing to write home about.
During this entire time, we're still waiting on our drinks, the soup, and the OTHER appetizer. Our server even mentions a couple times, your drinks are on the way. After a while, FINALLY our server comes out with our drinks. That was about 10-15 minutes from the order time. Immediately after that, our lobster bisque comes out which Tiffany thought was absolutely delicious. I thought it was ok. We thought bits of lobster would have been a nice touch.
During this time, we're still wondering where our lobster rolls are at. Our server even came by at one point and says, "Did you guys get your lobster rolls yet? Didn't think so." and walks off. So 25 minutes go by from the time we ordered them to the time we received them. Our server tells us, they are comped.
Dangit, we have to order more drinks! So Tiffany orders a couple more glasses of wine while I sit there complaining about how lousy our service was. Restaurant lesson to all the readers out there. Ways to cope with bad service: Drink Or Complain Or DO BOTH!
There was literally a point during all this, we contemplated just paying for the apps and drinks and leaving. We decided on staying.
We order our entrees. I go with the Spice Crusted Duck (came with parsnip whipped potatoes and grilled asparagus) and Tiffany goes with the Grilled Scottish Salmon (edamame succotash, griddle potatoes, and roasted tomato butter). This was the first time I've ever had duck before and it was DELICIOUS! Wasn't too big on the grilled asparagus which we were pretty sure were snap peas. The whipped potatoes which Tiffany thought was tasty were ok in my opinion. The first few bites into the salmon, Tiffany thought it was to die for. It was full of succulent flavor (I’ve seriously been waiting to use the word succulent in a blog for the past year and not even sure I used it appropriately). I even tried a bite, cooked to perfection. As she kept getting more towards the center, she noticed it wasn't cooked all the way through and wasn't in the mood to eat raw salmon on a night that would be followed up by New Year's Eve celebrating. So she didn't finish her salmon. The server never did ask how to cook the salmon so for some people it may have been ok but for Tiffany it wasn’t. I ate each portion of my duck, it had a dry look to it but didn't taste that way. Loved it. The sides, I could do without though.
So we did some quick math on our numbers. We figured we'd need to order another drink and two desserts to reach one hundred dollars.
We ask our server what the desserts were and he told us he could bring them all out on display. That worked for us. Not too much time goes by and the dessert tray is out (geez, if he worked just as hard in getting our apps out that would have been nice). He goes through each of the six desserts. We kind of gave each other the "meh" look as none of them really sounded good. We end up ordering just one dessert: the orange cheesecake. We did the math again and figured we'd need one more dessert to put us over $100. This was a rough estimate because we had no idea how much one of the cocktails and the desserts cost. When the server came back with our dessert, we asked for one more dessert to go and our ticket.
The orange cheesecake was very blah and didn't pack any flavor into it. Our server comes back and tells us he comped our second dessert to go because of the wait and hands us our ticket.
GREAT! We needed that dessert to get us over $100 and get us the hell out of there! The two comped items wasn’t enough to make up for the bad service. AVI on their site claims to be a four star restaurant. Does the fifth missing star stand for service cause that’s definitely where it lacked.
What was our final tab? $99.50 not including tax. Our gift voucher stated our tab must be $100 not including taxes or gratuity. We looked through our ticket. Two comped items and four glasses of wine which were supposed to be $8 according to the menu, we were charged $9. So even with a wrong price on four drinks, we still couldn't hit $100. We figured, we'd just give him the voucher and see if he said anything. He didn't say a word.
Received our ticket, paid it, grabbed our to go dessert and left.
To make matters worse, when we tried the dessert later (vanilla bean cake), it sucked.
Honestly overall it was just one of the worst services I've ever had in a restaurant. The constant waiting got so old. Not so sure we'll be going to AVI again. Tiffany called it one of the worst dining experiences she's ever had. I'm hoping she was talking about the service and not the company.
On the way out, we ran into some friends who were dining there. They had similar experiences as us with the lousy service. They said their night was slowly approaching three hours at a restaurant because of the waits. One of them even said, “Service was almost like it was an inconvenience for us to be here. Our waitress told my wife that the chef was angry people were ordering entrees with substitutions.” Who says that, really?
AVI. What does that stand for. Annoying and Very Inconvenient.