Confidential to certain neighborhood restaurants

Recently, a joint in my hood — long plagued by spotty food, bad service, a crappy wine list, and a host of related issues — decided that “hey, I’ll ask a TV show for advice!” was the right plan.

Mrs Heathen and I decided to try them out last night, to see if the plan worked.

First, their key problems, as I see it:

  • A somewhat run-down building.
  • Generally poor service, mostly by people who appear to have never waited tables before.
  • Glacially slow kitchen production even when very, very not busy.
  • Spotty execution.
  • Bizarrely long menu.
  • Poorly considered entrees rife with unforced errors.
  • Trifling wine list that needs help.

After the visit, I can report that the interior is much nicer, and the previously unknown to me waiter did seem to have done this before. Further, the menu is much shorter and more focussed, which is great.


We waited about half an hour for a burger and a salad when there were only 2 other active tables in the restaurant. The wine list is unchanged and terrible, which will be even more damning when the always-excellent Max’s opens on the next block. The execution of the food we got was iffy at best; a beet salad should have more than a couple beets in it, I’m sure you’d agree, for example. Worse, they appear to have deliberately sourced burger buns and patties that are wildly different in size, which is unfortunate, because it gives the impression of a very small burger — and leaves you with a bunch of extra bread when you’re done. Of the fries, the less said, the better — “leathery” is not a texture I look for in side dishes unless we’re under siege and dining on filet of Allen Edmunds.

I really, really want this place to work. They’re reasonably priced, and literally two blocks away. But they seem to have a really, really hard time with the basics. Reality TV isn’t going to fix that. Given what they changed and what they left the same, I have the distinct impression that the owners and I disagree about what’s keeping Gratifi from being a great local restaurant.

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