501 Garden State Plaza
Paramus, NJ 07652
Yelp really needs to start allowing users to give negative stars because this place isn't worthy of 1. Although I am fuming mad, I will do the best I can to NOT give an emotionally charged review that's filled with expletives and the like.
Let me start by prefacing this review by saying that I eat out. A LOT. My fondness of food is akin to one's favorite childhood memory... that's how much I love food. With that being said, I will say being at the Nordstrom Marketplace Cafe was BY FAR the singularly worst dining experience of my life. Worse than any fast food or waitered service. Worse than any carnival stand or amusement park. Worse than any street vendor or dive.
It all started off promising. I had high hopes. I ordered Cajun Chicken Fettucine in the hopes of getting the smoky, delicious flavor of chipotle but mostly I wanted the dish for andouille sausage. My friend ordered the Spicy Chicken Penne. Upon ordering we were told they ran out of penne and fettucine would be used instead. That was absolutely fine. After we had finished ordering our dishes and drinks at the counter we chose a seat where we promptly given utensils by someone who said, "She'll be right with you." Assuming "she" was our waitress we waited. And waited. And waited. Annnnd waited. Twenty minutes passed and we still had not received our drinks nor had our waitress come to our table. I saw her hustle and bustle about. It seemed like she was the only waitress for the whole place so my friend and I felt bad for her. "We'll leave her a nice tip," my friend said, feeling sympathy for how hard she was working. We continued to wait. And wait. And wait. FORTY minutes passed. No one had come to our table since utensil lady.
The moment my friend alerted me to the fact it had been forty minutes I waved my hands frantically toward the staff. I looked around and saw everyone had their food. EVERYONE. People who had arrived later than us had their food, drinks, utensils, bread, etc. We had nothing. I was appalled. Finally someone noticed my waves and pointed in my direction. Someone else pointed out and my waving and finally the waitress saw. While the staff telephoned the fact that I was waving to the waitress, I was pantomiming the fact that we needed our drinks. I made several absurd motions to show that I wanted my effing drink which (hopefully) was relayed to the waitress.
The waitress, who had never seemed to look at our table before, finally looked our way and started to walk over. She must've been called by another table because while she was walking over she stopped heading our way and went to another table to help them. She went to help a table that she had seen multiple times before. A table that had their food, drinks, etc instead of helping the table that had nothing at all. Thanks. I really felt appreciated. I watched her as she spoke to that table and then went back to the counter to get them whatever it was they needed then FINALLY came over to us. "Sorry, thank you for being so patient," she said, then grabbed our receipt and left.
Apparently, in this place, when you order the food they print out an itemized receipt for you but your order does not go directly to the kitchen. You are supposed to take the receipt with you to your table and when the waitress gets to you, she will take your itemized receipt and give it to the kitchen. Now I can't say for sure this is really how the system works. This is mostly speculation that's based on what I observed but if I'm right... what a dumb, dumb system. Now, I know I said I would try not to be emotional but that system is dumb. Because of that system the kitchen was never cooking our food the whole time we were waiting. If they had received notification of our order when we paid for the order at the counter then our food would have come out before the people who came after us. Prior to the waitress picking up our receipt, the kitchen probably thought they were done for the day.
Again we played the waiting game. We were dumbfounded that the kitchen would only now begin cooking our food... but all we could do was wait. Another 20 minutes or so pass. I see the food leave the kitchen window and the waitress begins to take it over to us. By now everyone has left and we are the only diners. She stops. She looks at the food. Something is wrong with it, I just know it but I try to shrug off the feeling and hope it's something small like a missing garnish. She comes over. She goes on apologize and then confuse the two of us by saying that there is no more penne (something we already knew) and that the two dishes are actually both spicy chicken, no wait, cajun chicken, no wait... she goes back and forth until she settles on spicy chicken but that it's the same sauce as cajun chicken so we shouldn't worry. The only difference between the spicy chicken dish and the cajun chicken dish are that cajun chicken has chipotle sauce and andouille sausage.
Okay. Hold up. What?!?! I was so confused. I wasn't sure if she was trying to say that they ran out of chipotle sauce and penne which is why we had the same dishes or... I really had no clue what she was trying to say. All I know as I stare at my dish is that it's missing the andouille (which I was really looking forward to) and the chipotle sauce. I asked her to bring the sausage since that was the main reason I chose that dish. She pleasantly complied and off she went to get the andouille. When she left my friend and I tried to decipher what she meant. I thought about it and privately came to the conclusion that the kitched messed up and gave us both the same dish but she didn't want to admit it because she probably didn't want to go through the trouble. She came back with the sausage in the midst of my thoughts and asked her bluntly, "So these are both the same dish?" She affirmed it and went on again about how the sauces are practically the same, just one is spicier than the other and the only difference is there's andouille in one and mushrooms in another, etc. (Man... every time she said that there was no difference in the sauces, I was fuming because chipotle has a distinct flavor for me and I love it... so for me, the lover of food... there is a big difference.)
She said that the kitchen could make me the dish I wanted but I voiced how the kitchen looked like it was closing, plus I implied I didn't want to wait yet ANOTHER 20 minutes for my food. I had spent over an hour and a half in this place with everything going wrong... I was so fuming mad (and still am) that I did not want to spend another minute sitting in that cafe. I just said I'd keep the food that was there, so she left. I was still at a loss for words. I couldn't believe it. We waited 40 minutes to be acknowledged by our waitress (God knows how much longer had I not waved), 50 minutes for our drinks, and nearly 1.5 hours to get our food... and the wrong food (at least for me) nonetheless! All of this was mulling in my mind... I added to the mixture more thoughts. I thought of how it seemed the waitress kept trying to downplay the mistake with the food and how rude McDonald's service was looking 5-star in comparison to this place. My friend told me to just eat my food since I hadn't eaten all day and that it was pretty good. I had one small piece of andouille (which was rather tasty) but didn't have the stomach to eat anything more. My appetite had been lost in this place.
Actually, writing the experience and re-living it is making me sick to my stomach again... I was going to describe the whole entire experience at great length but I'll shorten it now because I'm sick and so so so angry at this whole thing. To make this already long story short... the manager comes with the waitress. The manager says I'm sorry if we ruined your evening but can we remake the dish. I refused because I didn't want to wait. She assured me I wouldn't have to wait because the kitchen staff could make it quick since we were the only ones left. I declined again because I wasn't sure I could believe it. I really didn't want to wait anymore or spend any longer than I had to in the place. Meanwhile, I'm thinking she should comp something because the service and everything was unacceptable. Instead of offering a comp, she says please take my business card and you can come back and have a free entree. I was about to fall on the floor. I couldn't believe she offered that... she could see how upset I was... how could she possibly think that I would EVER want to come back to eat there? I scoffed and declined. The two of them leave us at our table.
The waitress came back on her own at some point and saw I hadn't eaten. I said how I thought it was unfair to pay for this when we got the wrong food and waited so long. She agreed and said something could be worked out with the manager. My friend said that she didn't have to comp his dish. She came back and said her manager said she wouldn't comp our drink but would comp our dishes. My friend reiterated she didn't have to comp his dish but the waitress insisted it would be fine and that it's not a problem to comp us for BOTH dishes. Great! We didn't have to pay for the stinky meal... The waitress comes back and gives my friend the receipt with the credit. He doesn't look at it until we're up and leaving.
"How much did they comp you?", I say.
He looks down and glances at the receipt.
Each entree cost us $10. They only comped one dish. WTF IS WRONG WITH THAT PLACE?!?!?!?!?!
Needless to say I will never. Ever. EVER go back to this place. I don't care if Morimoto decides to cook personally for each guest tableside I would never set foot in that place again. In fact, that place left such a bad taste in my mouth that I would never shop at Nordstrom at all.
Please do yourself a favor and don't bother eating here. There are so many other wonderful options in the mall for you to satisfy your hunger. It's not worth the gamble to eat here, seriously.