No matter how dreadful the experience, I don’t like thrashing places wholesale. Even when the service is deplorable, I look for that hint of good will, the slightest suggestion of a desire to please and will linger a little longer than usual in my praise of a the tasty bread basket when I find it. I’m the first to admit that even the best of places have off nights. So in the name of fairness, I’ve been scouring my brain about my experience at Philippe Chow Express to find something comparably redeemable, but keep coming up with nada…
unless we would want to count those things that are deceptively redeemable as valid. If that were indeed the case, I could refer to the appearance of the entrees below:
While these entrees may appear appetizing and may have been admittedly prepared with reasonably quality and fresh ingredients, a host of issues severely stood in the way of their being properly enjoyed.
The main food flaw was that both entrees were served at a lukewarm temperature. This boggled my mind since one of the main characterizing features of the dining room is a large and prominently situated grill station manned by a small army of industrious white-clad cooks giving the appearance of constant order turnover. Instead everything we ordered, including the ridiculously mediocre $6 bowl of won ton soup ordered by my guest ordered, was merely warm.
The visible grill station only creates the illusion of high quality standards, in reality the grill station at Philippe Chow generates rancid-smelling oil vapors that float throughout the room and creates a bustle that exceeds the dining floor din. The warmth and coziness of the red brick interior is shattered by the shrill kitchen sounds and service that is indifferent and incompetent beyond any measure of tolerability.
The host that welcomed us took a call on his blackberry while directing us to our table. Since he proceeded to talk to his caller unapologetically, we seated ourselves. Once seated, we were categorically ignored by the head waitress, servers and host for nine full minutes. It wasn’t until I flagged a busser that a server came to us.
Everything from the server forgetting parts of our orders, to the sequence in which our orders were brought out, to being entirely ignored throughout the dinner was egregious. Rice was forgotten. We needed to request it two additional times from our initial order, only to have a small oval-shaped tepid serving rice delivered once our entrees were half-way eaten. My guest got his soup only after the entrees and soup had arrived.
When I informed the ill humored server that my prawns were too cold, he gruffly carried the prawn platter away from me without apologizing or offering any explanation and ignored to take the prawns that I’d transported to my dinner plate in front of me. He returned seven minutes later with the warmed over prawns. They were merely edible but not enjoyable. He didn’t bother to replace the prawns that were in my dinner plate.
As all of these misdeeds were unfolding, not once did the host, head waitress or management even attempt to approach us or inquire how things were. Although the restaurant was swarming with staff and there was no overwhelming dining crowd to speak of, the staff consistently and deliberately avoided to make eye contact with its guests…not even a smile.
This place stands squarely on my list of places to avoid in Greenwich Village. If you want quality, tasty Chinese food in the Village, head to Sammy’s Noodle Shop, a couple of blocks south of this faux, wanna-be upscale place on 6th Avenue. To be sure, Sammy’s is not a beacon of genteel service, but servers are quick and competent, tabs are low and tastes are reliably fresh and good. Their mouth-watering steamed dumplings are a must!