I had been looking for a new breakfast place to review for sometime, and it was suggested that we try Parkers Maple Barn in Brookline. Eager for something new and ready for the adventure we set off early in the am to be assured of getting there before they open, so we could get the best table for doing food photos. Defiantly not the easiest place to get to, the drive to Parkers Maple Barn was dotted with some historic and antique looking houses that were quite unique and beautiful to look at on the drive. When we finally did pull up to Parkers Maple Barn, we saw a rustic building with the charm of an old saw mill, tons of personality, and it showed great promise for the character of the meal ahead. We walked in about 2 minutes to 7, and as they opened at 7 we were in fact, 2 minutes early, but as the door was opened and another couple was already seating and enjoying coffee, we felt it was ok to head in. We walked in and were greeted with a "just a minute!" by the hostess before she briskly walked us to our table, which was located in a dark corner next to the fireplace, and being that I was going to be doing a food blog, I always request to be seated by a window. Now, bear in mind, there is NO ONE in the entire dining room except for one other couple, and the dining room is huge, so I figure there would be no harm in asking to sit by a window. This would be one of the 30 plus tables that are located next to a window that no one else is sitting at. At this point, the hostess stops putting the menus down, lets out a huge sigh, literally rolls her eyes at both of us, and says "why don't you just show me where you want to sit?", as if this was the most inconvenient request we could have ever made of her. Whenever I have asked this of other hostesses at other restaurants, we are normally greeted with a "sure" or "absolutely", but for this hostess, it was clearly a tremendous inconvenience to her. So we walked 10 feet over to the first table by a window and sat down. She plopped down our menus and said, "technically we are not even open, so its going to be a while for your coffee". Yet, if I look over at the older "regulars" sitting in the other part of the dining room, they have coffee already. I try to shrug it off so that I can enjoy breakfast and start my day on a happy note, but sadly, it was only going to get worse. Next our waitress brings over our coffee carafe and cups, and without saying a word, drops them on the table, says "here you go" and walks off, without even a "good morning" or "how are you". Combine that with the dirty coffee cups and it was clear, there would be no eat local blog on Parkers Maple Barn.
Now, everyone always asks me, "It seems like every food blog you write its always positive and happy, don't you ever have any bad experiences?" Well, the answer is yes, I have a lot of bad dining experiences. I have eaten at more than a few places where the service was poor, the food bland, and the experience unpleasant, I just choose not to blog about them, I choose to keep my blog posts positive and happy, because that's how I choose to live and run my company, as an obnoxiously happy, positive, optimistic person. But I told a lot of people we were going to do a food blog today about Parkers Maple Barn, and I wanted to keep my word.
Food is always important, flavor, presentation, pairings, these are all vital to the success of a restaurant. But service, service is also just as important. It doesn't matter how good your food is, if you make your guests feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, and there is a general air of rudeness from the people that are serving you, no one will come back for the food. Good food cannot overcome bad service, but good service can always help to overcome mediocre food. Because if people feel welcome and appreciated as guests in your restaurant, they will give you a second chance to get the food right, but if you make them feel unwelcome, they will not come back, and instead they will look elsewhere for a positive dining experience.
So we looked at each other, stood up, and walked out, and that was it. And as we walked by the hostess on our way out, we were met with a sarcastic comment of "um, have a nice day?" coupled with one last roll of the eyes. Will we go back? no. There are a million places in this state that make breakfast, and I'm sure a lot of them do it better than Parkers Maple Barn, and in the end, its the experience of the meal more than the meal itself that is the entire purpose of going out to eat.