First, I almost never take issue with bad service or poor food at restaurants. When I choose to attend a restaurant, I accept the fact that I am submitting myself to culinary and service professionals whose skills far exceed my own. Further, in my view, the bad experiences make the positive ones all the better.
That said, I have never, in my entire life, indirectly observed or directly experienced the degree of wrongful conduct that I was subjected to by the words and actions of the manager at Chianti on Whyte. Although my experience differs, I note a similar review on March 13, 2013 by a customer who described this manager's conduct as that of a "15-year-old". While I understand the comparison, in my view, the manager, described as male / mid 30s / dark hair / short frame - 5'7"-5'9" / slightly plump figure / Italian accent, in my view, acted like an adult who, due to Chianti's high traffic location, has developed the view of customers as disposable because there are plenty more waiting in the lobby.
I ordered a composite pasta dish with veal and shrimp. The group that I was with were celebrating a birthday. We were a table of apprx. 15. Our waiter, a tall Caucasian male in his mid 20s, was kind and helpful throughout, and took my order that included a veal add-on.
When our food arrived, I cut into the veal that I was excited to devour with the standard dinner knife provided. The meat was like leather. I continued to enjoy my past and shrimp. When our waiter attended my side of the table and asked me if I was enjoying the dish, I told him about the tough veal. Note that I was not angry, but rather I asked with a smile if he would provide me with a steak knife. The waiter apologized and told me that I should not have to eat the tough meat. He advised that he would take the veal off the bill, and requested that I provide the two uneaten portions of veal. I passed off the two portions to the waiter on a side plate.
Several minutes later, the manager, described at para 2 above, attended our table. He stood above me, and appeared visibly angry. He waited for the entire group to turn their attention to our location before placing the small side dish with the 2 portions of veal on the table in front of me. He then proceeded to firmly press a knife down into the veal, and, standing, began cutting through the meat. Even with the added weight, it took the manager several swipes to cut off a piece.
My mouth dropped. I was stunned, incredibly embarrassed, hurt, and angry that the manager had the gull to attend our table, and seek to rebut the claim that I had made to the waiter who, not directed by me, had chosen to return my food to the kitchen.
In reply, I first pointed to the meat that had saw marks imbedded in it. I told the manager that I was unable to cut through the meat. He attempted to cut through that portion, and had more trouble than with the first demonstration. I then told him that I had not asked to have the meat returned, but that I had simply requested a steak knife. The manager stated loudly, in slightly broken English: "Why you need a steak knife. There's nothing wrong with this!"
At this point, I accepted the fact that rationalizing with this manager would not be possible. I told him that his conduct was unprofessional and extremely rude. I told him that I would pay for the veal, and I directed him to leave our table, with the veal, immediately. He stood there seemingly stunned, I infer due to the fact that he had expected me to become angry, which would have justified him asking me to leave the restaurant.
Through the remainder of our dinner, the manager glared at me whenever he walked by our vicinity. As I was paying for the meal, I informed the manager that I would blog this incident, and would be laying a complaint with the BBB. He smiled at me, and stated "Whatever. I am owner here". Again, his behaviour leads me to conclude that he sees customers as expendable. He does not understand the negative ripple effect that he created when he treated me, and this birthday goers who were subjected to his attack, with such arrogance and disrespect.
Given the great location and, overall, good food reflected by the 78% rating, I am not suggesting that you, too, will have this horrible experience. Maybe my physical appearance (blonde, glasses) reminded the manager of someone who hurt him in the past. I don't know. I do know that I will never return to this location, and I have informed all of my friends, family, and co-workers about this incident. That said, there is a growing body of evidence that speaks of a Chianti's manager/owner as being an unreliable variable in what should otherwise be a positive Italian dining experience.
Thanks for listening!