OK, while I'm frequently contributing to the TA forums, I seldom post reviews. Something has to be outstandingly good, or horrifically poor . . . and the latter is the case last night (12/30/10) at Trattoria da Franco. When decided on dining here while on vacation in Alexandria, thanks to Restaurant.com, a valued dining resource we've used dozens of times over the past five plus years. For $10, you can buy a $25 gift certificate, making dining out (in theory) an affordable experience.
I have been a very happy and loyal Restaurant.com customer for many years and have never had any issues or problems in using the certificates within the terms posted. We had a very bad experience last night at this participating restaurant, which included dealing with the owner.
When we were greeted by our server, I provided him with the g/c as it states to do. He came back and told us in order to use the $25 certificate, we would have to order an appetizer and dessert, in addition to the two entrees. When I stated that the certificate only requires a minimum $35 purchase, excluding alcohol, he pointed out the info in the lower right side that provides suggestions on "how" to get to $35. Trust me, it was no issue as the entrees we were ordering were $20 and $25.
The server held firm to their house policy, stating that Restaurant.com had it "wrong" on the website and certificate and that we would have to order that much food in order to use the g/c. When I asked to speak with the manager, the owner Franco himself came to the table. He told us that he no longer participated in this program because they (Restaurant.com) couldn't get it right and that he was not happy with having to give away $25 in food when people just come in to spent $35.
I tried to explain to him that we were frequent diners using this program and that he was mistaken and that in fact, he could change that $35 to $50 as I have seen that at other restaurants. He got a bit snippy with me, to which I told him that if they were not going to honor the certificate as issued, we would pay for my husband's cocktail and leave w/o dining there. He said not to do that and that he would honor it. He went on to point out what we already knew about their 20% gratuity policy. (While we've seen others do it at 18% with the g/c, we did see that this place was going to tack on 20%.)
Well, as we ordered our entrees the server asked if we wanted garlic bread with our meal and well, of course, we're in an Italian place. He failed to mention the $4 charge for it. Dinner came and the portions were as reported, were on the small side. I had never dined at an Italian place where the mix the sauce in with the pasta. The spaghetti was mushy and not very good. My veal parm was decent but over sauced . . . and my hubby's chicken marsala was a bit too sweet. We did enjoy a $6.95 pastry dessert to split, which was better than the reported "bread" taste in an earlier review.
Given the entrees were $25 and $20, did not come with bread or a salad, we felt this was terribly overpriced. Their bar prices are a ripoff at $9 for a "short" rail drink. Our total check came to $78.76, plus 10% tax ($7.88) . . . and to that total amount he tacked on the "mandatory" 20% gratuity ($17.37).
I would not recommend this place to anyone . . . and again, am only too sorry I didn't check in here at TA before buying the Restaurant.com certificate.
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