When it comes to ambiance, Le Locale is perfection. The space is absolutely stunning and modern. There is a romantic covered patio at the front, a lounge, the main dining area where you can watch the chefs in action and then an area to the side that is a little more private for groups of 10 or more.
When we first arrived at Le Locale without reservations on a Tuesday night, we hoped we would be able to get in. It was quite busy inside and we were casually dressed. Le Locale is very much a place to be seen in and I wished I had taken more time getting ready after our long drive to Montreal. Luckily we were able to get a table in the main dining area.
This is the part that becomes difficult. While everyone else around us was getting excellent service and seemed very happy, our waiter forgot everything. We each ordered a glass of the same wine. He arrived at the table with only enough for half a glass. He told us that was all he had and apologized, saying he was out of it and should have known. He offered us something else and that was fine.
We ordered an appetizer of Crab cakes, which he forgot to punch in. We watched several tables who had been seated well after us, enjoying their entrees while our appetizer still didn't come. We had no reason to believe our waiter had forgotten as he kept bringing us bread - the most amazing walnut pistachio bread I've ever had. He could tell I liked it and kept bringing it over and winking. But still no appetizer.
As the tables around us polished off their entrees he brought our crab cakes with his apologies. Small, delicate but very tasty. We had ordered our entrees at the same time as the appetizer and assumed they were not far behind. We were wrong. We waited for at least a 45 minutes after finishing our appetizer to see our waiter had changed into his street clothes and was heading over to chill at the bar. Concerned, we waived down another server and asked what the status of our meals were since our waiter seemed to have finished his shift. She went over and talked to someone (I suspect he was the manager) with what appeared to be our order in her hand. I could see them gesturing back and forth in the direction of our table.
The manager came over and informed us our waiter had forgotten to punch in our meals and would we still like them or prefer to just leave? While leaving in a huff may be a fun dramatic exit for some, it wasn't an appealing option to the two of us after a 5 hour drive from Toronto and watching everyone else around us enjoying their food. We told him we would like to eat what we ordered.
15 minutes later our meal arrived. I had fresh pasta with a tomato cream sauce, olives, fresh basil and sun dried tomatoes and my husband had a steak that was supposed to be medium rare but came rare and cold. My food was fantastic but my husband was less than impressed with his cold rare steak. I would drive 5 hours to Montreal just for that pasta.
What sets a smart restaurant apart from a stupid one, is the management's finesse in handling this kind of a situation. A customer should not be expected to request for things to be comped due to bad service or bad food, it should automatically be handled once they are made aware of the problem. This is where Le Locale stepped up. The server/manager without prompting from us, waived all charges for everything. We did not get a bill of any kind. We still tipped as a gesture of appreciation on his behalf and I hope they didn't share it with our waiter. Had they not done that I don't think we would have considered ever going back.
I suspected from looking around at other diners that this was a bad experience totally out of the ordinary. Everyone else was happy and well looked after. So many of the dishes at the tables around us looked fantastic. I had also done my research online and knew this was supposed to be a great restaurant, so I chalk this entire negative first impression up to that one waiter and don't consider it a fair reflection of the rest of the restaurant. We decided at the end we would both be willing to go back and give it another chance with a different server.
740 William Street
These reviews are the subjective opinions of ChickAdvisor members and not of ChickAdvisor Inc.