This is my second review of L'Abattoir within a year. I so want to love this place. Again, the food was really delicious - the service sub par.
We were one of three tables in the upstairs dining room at 6:30 PM on a Tuesday. We ordered two cocktails. I asked for a gin & tonic, with Hendricks gin, with a cucumber slice (Hendricks has cucumber notes, cucumber is recommended as a garnish). Our sweet-natured waitress said earnestly., "Oh, I don't think cucumber is something the bar regularly stocks". I let it go, and asked for a twist of lemon instead. Inside I'm thinking, "You have cucumber in some of the dishes on the menu. You're charging a fortune for a cocktail made from a premium brand booze. Tell your bartender to don his armour and go into the kitchen and steal, if he has to, a wedge of cucumber from the disgruntled kitchen staff".
I get my drink with not a lemon twist, but with a honking wedge of fresh lemon. Oh well.
20 minutes later (again, three tables upstairs) our cocktails arrive. Not 60 seconds after we start sipping them, the starters are put before us. Not nice. Bum's rush anyone? One of the starters was grilled octopus with smoked paprika sauce, fried jalapenos, pickled cucumber and breadcrumbs fried in pork fat. The octopus was super tender and the sauce a perfect foil. The other dish was a fresh crab tart, with thinly sliced green apples and fried chickpeas. Both delicious. There are large pieces of an usual fresh herb on the crab dish. My partner asks what it was. The response. "Um...hmmmm...basil?" You tell me sweetie! The correct answer is: "I don't know, let me check with the kitchen and get right back to you, so that I may endear you to me so that you might give a larger tip at the end of your special night out". We had to ask if, when dropping off the plates in the dish pit, she could pop her sweet little head in the kitchen and ask. She did. The green in question turned out to be the tops of fava bean plants. Who could have guessed?
We received our entrees not much later. Grilled tuna with big plump pitted green olives and baby potatoes. Nicely seared on the outside, more raw toward the centre - just like it should be. My partner had the smoked duck breast with duck confit and fava beans. The duck was super tender, generous in portion, very nicely smoked. Amazing sauce. The confit was stuffed into mini spring roll wrappers. Very tasty.
Then more rushing. As the dinner plated were being cleared the dessert menus were put before us (seriously. simultaneously). Not a moment to digest, unwind, reflect. It seemed as if it were a mad rush to get us the hell out the door and the table turned over (even though we were well under our "two hour limit").
A senior waiter saw our discomfort and came to chat with us. We explained that we really, really enjoyed the food, but that the timing of the service was just whacky and made us feel rushed and edgy. To the restaurant's credit, this fellow apologized sincerely and as a gesture of good faith/an apology comped our dessert. Nice gesture and we really appreciated it. Dessert was spectacular - probably one of the best I've ever had. Coffee-bean financier (small cake) with coffee ice cream, tonka bean mousse and caramelized bananas. Crazy delicious.
I really do recommend L'Abattoir for the food. It's really very tasty and the prices are reasonable. The service however, needs some tightening. That's management's job and I hope they manage to make make the investment. The food deserves service of the same level.