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Naturally, the chef was outraged by my comments, even though he had solicited them. The loin, he sneered, was from New Zealand, and the chops were from Colorado, thus explaining the taste difference. As for the shrimp and fish, "I buy it fresh every day," he said stiffly and left the table in a huff. For the record, I am not insisting that Harmon doesn't replenish his supplies on a regular basis or that he is the one who doctored the salmon. I am merely offering the two best-case scenarios: He is buying goods that aren't graded on the high end of the scale, perhaps to save on a too-tight budget that HR tracks. Or he actually doesn't know better, is being bamboozled, and could use a course or two in marine-life identification.
I'm comfortable in saying, however, that Harmon lacks propriety. I wasn't so polite either by the time general manager Patrick Kemmache came over to "apologize for my chef." I had not requested the presence of the GM, partly because I was still in shock that such an altercation would occur where main course prices average $25 and where we had started the evening by ordering a bottle of Far Niente Chardonnay. At $67, a really good price for such a small-production vintage, the wine was the second most expensive white on the menu.
When the GM tried to excuse the chef as being a little "hot-headed," I corrected him. "Your chef is an ass," I said.
1230 S. Pine Island Road
Plantation, FL 33324
Region: Davie/West Hollywood
"You're right. He is an ass," Kemmache replied.
To his credit, Kemmache was really just trying to salvage the situation. But instead of immediately -- and discreetly -- comping the bill or arranging for wine or desserts to be sent out (any of which might have actually prevented me from ethically publishing a review), he asked me what I wanted by way of compensation. I didn't want anything but the respect that every customer deserves, and I told him something like that. Nor did I request an apology from the chef. Of course, one wasn't forthcoming, though the roasted chicken made an appearance. The dish was fine, but I was afraid to eat it; I've worked in too many kitchens to be ignorant about the retributions awarded to so-called "difficult patrons."
As far as desserts went, we were handed the menus, and coffee was delivered. But after half an hour of waiting for the server to come back to see if we wanted the sun-dried blueberry bread pudding with maple crème Anglaise, the Hill Country peach cobbler, or the Mayhaw berry swirl cheesecake, we gave up and asked for the check. I don't blame the server, who was perfectly polite throughout the evening, for being overly cautious. By that point, I'd have been afraid of me too.
Kemmache did give me his card. He also invited my husband, me, and, as an afterthought, the other couple in my party back for a meal on the house. But I won't return for the freebie.
I won't go back even though the place has an intriguing wine list that offers exceptionally well-priced boutique California vintages as well as a handful of European and Australian bottlings. Indeed, though the wine list was enticing, the oxidized glass of La Crema pinot noir we sampled during happy hour hinted that the staff is either keeping open bottles of wine for too long or storing them incorrectly.
The wine was perhaps the least of the offenses we encountered. But taken in toto, the infractions at Bin 595, which ranged from poor impulse control on the part of the chef to misleading menu labels to spoiled food, represent a serious breakdown of corporate upmarket hotel-restaurant policy.