This is my latest revisit to Society. The first in a long while and the last for a time to come. Tonight was a bustling Saturday, and as a result our party of eight were one of the five large groups sitting on the covered patio. Scalding from the burn of team lamps, we at least weren’t going to catch a cold on this night. Lap blankets were available for those who needed more heat than the double row of over head lamps, and the free standing heat lamps scattered around the space, could provide. The entire patio was covered in a weather resistant plastic. It blocked the view, but protected us from the elements. We were essentially in a steam box. I found the heat freeing as I was able to eat unrestricted in my tank top.
It’s weird to never set foot in to a restaurant that you are eating at. I looked longingly into the darkness of the actual building. I admired their trademark large pink chandeliers from where I sat. They looked like they were made from pink candle wax, and they appeared to dripping from the ceiling. And as is the Halloween tradition, they had orange pumpkins lining window sills and cotton spider webs hanging from columns. Just the minimal amount of spooky to stay festive.
I appreciate the busy-ness a place like this might bring in on a weekend night. However if you have to pay an automatic 18% gratuity for coming in as a group larger than eight, you expect and deserve a level of service. And tonight, for us, it just wasn’t cutting it, in both service and food. The tables were set with pre cut pieces of parchment paper. An easy way for fast table bussing. Though something that took away from an attempt at a more sophisticate theme. But judging by the paint cans that they were stored in; the rolls of parchment was a temporary fix.
In reflection, our server was actually the regular bartender. During last month’s visit I remembered him being our bartender and doing a fine job in his usual role. So I suspect the following is an anomaly. Call it training or call it covering a sick call, but the guy was trying his best. Though without the proper training, at an event like this, on a night like this, it was a waste. The guy very honest, almost to a fault. He was vocal enough to admit what he did like, it wasn’t much. And when giving recommendations he took it literal, and could give no more than what he would eat. Only the Nutella and Oreo milkshakes to drink. And a salad for dinner. He wasn’t able to successfully sell me on any dish. And I was really left to decide on my own; despite my pleas, persuading him to give suggestions. At this point, knowing the menu and being able to refer to a customer’s favourite or a popular seller is the solution.
Things got complicated when a few in the group ordered appetizers for their whole meals and others had entrees. The appetizers came first and the entrees 45 minutes after. And as a result those who waited, to not have to eat before and watch others then after, were forced to attempt to enjoy their food cold. We waited 1 hour, for everyone to get their food; with the expectation that everyone would be able to dine all at once. It was a long hour as we looked longingly each time a server passed us. After speaking to the on duty manager the confusion was explained that appetizers always come out first and the entrees after them. That our server made the mistake of not inputting into the computer to have it otherwise.
I don’t know if it was because the busy night forced them to rush, but the kitchen was not putting out a descent caliber of food. Reading other reviews, majority say this is a common occurrence. In general “Society” is not known for their food, as it’s appeal comes from their drinks and their use of pink cotton candy in them. I have never had a major issue with their food as I am an adventurous eater, with a system that can stomach anything. But today I found that the food was not worth finishing. Those who dared to venture away from the safety of ordering poutine and burgers were made to feel regret.
I love milkshakes, and they only get better when you add alcohol into the mix. The results are these creamy and sweet “Spiked milkshakes”. They all tasted amazing, as you are unable to make out any of the burn from the spirits being used.
“Peanut butter cup”. Peanut butter, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and crumbled peanut butter cups.
“Nutella”. Frangelico, Nutella, and chocolate flakes.
“Oreo cookie”. Creme de cacao, an Oreo cookie, and chocolate drizzle.
“Strawberry shortcake”. Pinnacle whipped, strawberry purée, vanilla simple syrup, and graham cracker crumbs.
This is their trademark drink, a perfect cocktail for bachelorette parties and all events girly. “Candy Collins”. Bombay sapphire gin, fresh lemon soda, topped with their own in house spun cotton candy. The actual cotton candy machine is behind their bar for easy delivery.
“Signature appetizer platter”. Signature meatballs, poutine, Mac and cheese balls, chicken wings, lobster corn dog, cheese burger pizza pockets, and a garden salad. There is a required two person minimum in order to qualify, this platter was split amongst three. Therefore several elements came only in threes, as it was meant only for one per person. This was the plate that was left untouched for 30 minutes as the others in our group waited for theirs to arrive. Majority of these appetizers were deep fried and better enjoyed hot. So after a few disappointing and soggy bites we had asked for this to be taken off the bill and a way from the table. The manager offered us a new replacement order, but seeing as we had waited long enough, and getting a new one would result in the rest of the table now waiting for this order to be created as their entrees got cold, we politely declined. Besides after you try something cold, having it hot wouldn’t do much as you are already scared off.
“Poutine”. Hand cut French fries, cheese curd, chicken gravy. Simple easy, not hard to mess this one up.
“Chicken gnocchi poutine”. Chicken gravy, onions, fresh herbs, and mozzarella cheese; with an arugula salad on the side. We didn’t quite understand how this qualified as a poutine. The cheesy bread that was unmentioned on the menu was ironically the largest component of the dish. The serving of gnocchi was not enough to be considered an appetizer portion, and this was suppose to be an entree for a grown adult. There was hardly enough chicken have have it lead the title of the dish. By far one the most misinformed dishes I have ever seen.
“Society burger”. In house ground beef, vine-ripen tomato, signature sauce, hand cut fries. In this, we added $1.50 for a dollop of guacamole and $1.25 for a scoop of pulled pork. You can’t really go wrong with a burger. The beef patty was only ok, but there was enough of everything else and ketchup to keep the burger tasty.
The “Fall in love menu” was a $25 feature available through October 16-27. On it you choose between two starters and two entrees, with a s’mores dessert to round off the set. Both myself and another guest made this our regrettable choice. The starter was either a split pea soup or the bruschetta. We both had the latter. “Basil pesto mini bruschetta”. I think they attempted to craft the dough into a heart shape, to play off its menu theme of “love”. But they did a poor job with the consistency of it, as you can see when you compare the two orders side by side. I have only had bruschetta made with crunchy bread. So this chewy and hard to cut version left me disappointed. It didn’t appear to be fully cooked. It resembled a rubbery sponge that soaked up all the oil from the dressing. I was hungry enough to finish this, wilted veggies and all.
“Lobster Pappardelle”. Lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, in a saffron rose sauce. This felt like another case of false advertising on the menu. Despite liking the rough cut pieces of pasta used to make this dish, there is nothing else nice to say about it. No lobster meat, and even less lobster taste. As a whole this plate was pretty bland, my guest who ordered it couldn’t get enough Tabasco on it to make a difference.
“Chicken potpie Wellington”. Carrot purée and ricotta mushroom caps. I am a visual eater and this did not look good. The mushroom caps were the tiniest I have seen. The taste of the gravy was decent but the texture of everything else soured the plate. The pie looked messy, as if someone just rolled the ingredients into a sheet of puff pastry and called it a day. A large service would have been done to this plate had they just used a ramekin or something to hold the pie together. The pastry was soggy, this was nothing more than left over thanksgiving stuffing. Definitely not something I would feature.
And they forgot to give us our “triple decker S’mores” dessert that would have came with a peach purée. When asked about it our server said sometimes people just order the appetizer and entree and that he didn’t charge us for the dessert. The dessert would have been the best part to the set menu, what I was actually looking forward to the most, and the main reason why I choose the meal in the first place. He could have asked before assuming on my behalf.
The night was a bust, left impatiently waiting our moods fell. I felt bad for our server but we were hungry and therefore getting grumpier at the slowly worsening situation. The worst part was that the birthday girl was so guilt ridden over her choice in venue, that she apologized several times to us. On a night where she should have been tipsy and happy she was upset and embarrassed. She was apologizing almost as much as our server was, for all his mistakes. An attempt was made to make things better with complimentary shots, from him to us. Not everyone wanted to drink so half the shot glasses were sent back full. Though honestly he had already poured them, so he might as well leave them all for the table, to be divided by those who did drink. What a waste to have to discard them. I hope they didn’t try to give our unwanted leftovers to another table.
We wanted to leave, to carry on our celebration at a different venue. But were convinced to stay thanks to the charismatic manager on duty. He pleaded for us to remain seated, saying he wanted us to leave tonight with a better taste in our mouths. “I want to make you happy.” He offered us complimentary desserts, which we honestly wanted to go without. At this point we had been there for 3 hours and we just wanted to leave. But here were were waiting another 15 minutes for it to arrive. I wish I could say it was worth the wait.
“Junk food platter”. A cotton candy cornucopia of caramel popcorn, sugared doughnut holes stuffed with white chocolate, a decadent chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, and Nutella creme brûlée. Everything was at room temperature. The caramel corn was hard and stale. The doughnuts dry with hardly any filling. And cookies came with some rock hard and other chewy. The best element on the platter was the creativity found in the Nutella creme brûlée, a chocolaty smooth pudding topped with burnt sugar.
When it came time to pay I was glad they automatically waved the 18% gratuity fee for parties over eight. I would have never paid it, given tonight’s events. have never been so happy to exit from a restaurant. Away from the loud patio made unbearable. Servers shouting to one another across the room, worse when it was done over customer’s head. And the loud over 20 person group of teens, under 20 who sat across from us. There was so much high pitched yelling and picture taking was going on. I swore a heard a “YOLO”. I believing in a loud environment takes away from
your other senses. Ones that you need to be fully immerse in your food. I am too old for places like this.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
If you compare this, my most recent post to the one I wrote on “Society” over a month ago, (click here to read that review) you can see when you visit makes a world difference in your experience. Though this shouldn’t be the case. Consistency is the key. The customer who enters at 5pm for dinner service should be treated just as well as the one who wants a seat at 8pm. And the food just keeps getting worse and worse. I enjoy the creativity and the fusing of dishes for clever delivery, but if you can’t make a great idea taste good, it is not worth doing. Given the reputation of other “Glowbal” run restaurants this is an anomaly to me. How can everything be allowed to slide so far down here, while the level of excellence is maintained on Alberni street? Don’t deny your cravings to try this for yourself.