10 Downing

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had a birthday dinner to attend – at 10 Downing. This unfortunately is a case of awkward service nearly completely ruining a perfectly tasty meal – I’m being generous with my description, because I was incredibly upset that night with our service (and I wasn’t alone). Our server was perfectly pleasant – when she’d bother to pay attention to us. We were a table of 10, so her gratuity was included… but that is never an excuse for her to just completely ignore us. It took forever for her to take our order – we were literally left alone for more than 20 minutes, even as we tried to get her attention – and when she finally came over, she offered to tell us the specials… after we’d already all studied the menu for 20 minutes. It would have been helpful to know about the specials before that, yes? And when it came time for dessert, we were ignored again (not all of us ordered from the prix fixe menu, which included dessert) – she probably could have turned our $600-700 tab into much more had she appeared more frequently to ask if we wanted more drinks, too. It took another lifetime to get our bill, by which time, I was visibly agitated. It was aggravating in the beginning when I was hungry (it wasn’t just me!), and then as the night progressed it just started grating on my nerves how blatantly we were ignored. It did appear they only had one server for the nearly-full dining room (with multiple runners and busboys), but she never apologized, she never even seemed to realize that she was ignoring us. An apology or explanation would have gone a long way with me! Ergh.

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I ordered from the 3 course prix fixe menu and started off with the shrimp & grits. The grits were deliciously cheesy, and the shrimp were plump, cooked properly. I enjoyed this dish greatly – as did most of my friends who also ordered this – though I was also so hungry by the time it came out that I can’t be too sure it wasn’t just hunger talking.

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My main course, pan-seared salmon with dill cream sauce atop a risotto-like bed, was delicious. Crisp-edged salmon that was perfectly tender in the center – not overcooked in the slightest – with a cream sauce fragrant with dill, I practically inhaled this dish. I considered how to recreate the dill cream sauce at home, because I really enjoyed it that much. I would totally want to eat this again – light, simple, allows the ingredients to shine. Yum!

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Dessert was lemon panna cotta with roasted cherries, topped with walnuts. The panna cotta, while denser and firmer than I prefer, was lightly lemony, which I enjoyed – especially in conjunction with the crunchy walnuts and the sweet cherries. Great execution here.

I can’t comfortably recommend OR not recommend 10 Downing – the food was very good, and I didn’t hear any complaints from anyone about their dishes either – it was just a matter of being really uncomfortable with the service that makes me hesitate over returning. I truly enjoyed the food, but I absolutely hated the way we were treated – which wasn’t blatantly rude or poorly, in which case I’d have said something at the time, it was just being ignored for so long but then the server acting like nothing was wrong when she’d come over like she totally had no idea she was ignoring us. I just didn’t understand. A real shame, too, given how much I enjoyed my meal otherwise.

10 Downing on Urbanspoon


  1. says

    i don’t care if it’s the best food in the world. bad service alone is reason enough never to return, especially in NYC where there are a million dining options.

    • says

      I agree! That is definitely true, there’s always another place willing to treat you well for your patronage, so why go somewhere to be ignored? (As I always say, if I wanted to be yelled at or have people be mean to me while I eat, I’d just go eat with my family…)

  2. T.C. says

    Bad service when grat is already included…uncalled for. Even if you were a large group. They clearly don’t want group dining or your return trips.

    Food looks good though.

    • says

      No. That was part of the problem – that the service wasn’t egregiously bad where I could clearly say “our server is throwing plates at us” – it was just a matter of going ignored for far too long.

      • says

        A very well known and respected restaurant reviewer had the best advice in a situation such as this. Talk to the manager before you leave – heck, half way through the meal would’ve been good. Your check times would prove your wait. She may not have been “throwing plates” but the service was still unacceptable and then to add insult you had to tip the auto grat. Managers want to know when their staff is slacking so they can help them improve. I can’t tell you how many managers I have heard say “I wish I had known at the time.” Many managers will also waive the auto grat if it is obvious that the service stunk.

        Sad actually because the food looks really good and you seemed to enjoy it.

        • says

          Honestly, I also don’t think the manager was even around. As I mentioned, it did seem like they were understaffed – an explanation would have gone a very long way with me, but we got no such thing. And yes, the food was good, I enjoyed it… just hated the service.

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