"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

07 November 2011

Totally off any sort of topic this blog may have ever had: Restaurant Review, Saga in Cranberry Township PA

I tried to write all this to Saga's management directly on their web page, but apparently you can only send them short pithy remarks. So I've directed them here, and you can all share in my letter to the management. You might want to take a break first and pop popcorn. It promises to be lengthy and entertaining. I am nothing if not entertaining, right gentle readers?

To: Saga Restaurants

Dear sir,
After our recent visit to your Cranberry Township restaurant, our first (and last) visit to Saga, I felt it worthwhile that you be aware of the sort of experience your customers are receiving.
We arrived on time for our 6:30 reservation on Saturday 11/5. After waiting in a somewhat cramped space behind the party that came in right before us for a while (along with a second party that joined us and cut through to be seated somehow that seemed at the time to make a little sense) the other party was seated and we were told that we would be seated shortly. A few moments later, the hostess informed us that we would be delayed "a few minutes while we find some menus." I was unaware until this time that the Menu is a rare and endangered exotic animal which much be stalked slowly through the kitchens and storage rooms of restaurant chains. I formerly believed that they were inanimate, incapable of hiding themselves either by methods of concealment or escape, usually made of mere paper and easily located by restaurant staff. I am now more sophisticated in my understanding of this rare and fanatstical creature.
Apparently finding menus involves two members of the front end staff taking extensive pictures for an overdressed party of late-teens or early twentysomethings, presumably a late Homecoming event. After several minutes of watching their photos being made, we were again addressed and informed that they were still having trouble finding those menus. I was close to pointing out the small pile of take-out menus on the front desk next to me, when we were ushered to our seats. Take-out menus, however, must be the protected young of the endangered menu-beast and unacceptable for hunting. These grazed freely and unmolested on the desk.
All in all this was nothing more than an amusement, lasting perhaps 10-15 minutes. Within a resonable time after being seated, a soft spoken waitress took the order for our party of five (including two small children).
Appetizers were brought within a reasonable time expectation, and the crab rangoon was quite good. We were a little alarmed to find the soggy receipt for a previous customer attached firmly to the bottom of the plate containing the edamame we ordered, but otherwise nothing was out of place. (For the record, the receipt was not for edamame but for drinks and how it came to be attached to the bottom of the dish is absolutely beyond comprehension unless it was being trained in the escape and concealment skills of the menu-beast.)
During the course of our appetizer, a second family (including another two small children) was seated at our grill section. Knowing the routine in places like this, we expected this would cause delay. We had no idea how much delay we were in for!
I must say at this point that the restaurant is well named. What proceded was a meal of epic porportions, a true saga indeed. While our soup was being brought to our table, I noticed another grill section being filled with people across the restaurant from us. These folks having arrived about half an hour after us, and about twenty minutes after the second family at our table would eventually see a chef far faster than we did.
Our soup was brought, and salads, and that was the last we saw of the wait staff. There was not even so much as a refill on my husband's cup of tea for the next half an hour. In the course of serving the soup, the waitress spilt a noticble amount of soup on the floor, but no effort was made to clean it up. On further reflection, it may be that the waitress was a secret agent for the protection of the menu-beast and the soup perhaps is how these are fed in the wild. When our chef arrived I was concerned that he might slip in the soup puddle, but perhaps unobserved the menubeast had slurped it up in the intervening hour.
After waiting at the table for a full hour, seeing other families come and go, and noting that families seated later than us had already received their entrees, our family became understandibly irritable. The children began to melt off of their seats in one direction or another, their patience exhausted. We began giving forlorn looks to any staff person who passed our table, but apparently they had all been well trained in ignoring puppy-dog-eyes. Another family was seated at the grill across from ours and we considered slipping them a note saying "run while you can."
Eventually an employee slowed near our table long enough for me to ask "Will there be dinner tonight." He looked appropriately confused by my remark and made no reply, but a waitress returned within five minutes promising that there would be a chef at our table "soon."
It was one hour and fifteen minutes after seating that we finally saw our chef. All the other chefs were high-energy and by the time ours arrived we were rather dreading the show. We were fortunate to have a chef who was able to sense that we weren't interested in being much entertained. He was delightful and didn't push the showmanship too far. We also ended up with a second chef croweded into the area, as the other party apparently merited much faster service.
It was fully two and a half hours that we ended up spending on this dinner and just over $100. At no time did a waitress come by and ask if our food was okay or our experience satisfactory. After the chef left, we never heard a single word from the wait staff. They also took a rather long time processing our credit card. Perhaps they were again distracted with the need to hunt for menus for another family.
While we understand that a Saturday night is a busy time in a restaurant, Saga was far from capacity and made no attempt to acknowledge or apologize for the slow service. Our meal was overpriced (and our rice undercooked) and mediocre.
I am not writing because I want coupons (trust me, you can keep them). I am writing because I am the daughter of a small business owner and my father would have wanted to know if his clientele was dissatisfied. I presume that you should want to know these things also.
On second thought, perhaps the menu is so rare in this establishment because starving patrons have resorted to eating them in order to survive.
We won't be back.


  1. Would you think of re-posting your gentle comments on Chow Hound?

    Or would you consider allowing me to do so?

    Notice how careful I am to not arouse the tiger.
    (emoticon to suit)

  2. *roar*
    Repost wherever you like. I have to say, the more I wrote the more I was amused by the debacle. But then, I guess I'm easily amused.

  3. Adding Azul in Leetsdale PA to the over an hour wait for food hall of shame. This time with EIGHT kids dripping off of chairs and climbing the bar. (Not my kids climbing the bar, but I have to admit that after an hour passed I was kind of encouraging them.)