Review: Neiman’s Demise
Have you ever touched a jacket made of chinchilla fur? You should try it, if you haven’t already done so. But you know what you shouldn’t try? Neiman Marcus’ restaurant on the bottom floor of Lenox Mall. In fashion speak, it was an experience at which Miranda Priestly would have pursed her lips.
NM Cafe, as it’s affectionately called, falls flat for a number of reasons. The interior is a cafeteria meets frozen yogurt shop, and the menu is a celebration of country club cuisine without the tennis courts. Or the spas. The atmosphere is, like the interior, one of a cafeteria: noisy and hollow.
Granted you could argue I should have known better, NM Cafe barely resembles the brand name it operates under, a store known for its exquisite service for the exquisitely inclined with exquisite taste. What unfolded during my Saturday lunch was an hour and a half of nightmare service with average or inedible food at haute prices.
The start of the meal began awkwardly. As the waiter filled our water glasses, he placed two baby teacups in front of us, and without a word whisked away to the kitchen. Tea, now that’s a classy way to begin a meal at Neiman. But no, I don’t think it was tea. In fact, I’m positive it was chicken broth. Not that the broth tasted bad, but why? Why chicken broth?
Moving on, NM’s menu is bland and pricey. Glossing over the $15 turkey sandwiches and $20 salads, I tried the Mandarin Orange Souffle ($15), which, turns out, is just chicken salad with a mandarin orange jelly of sorts. Not quite the souffle I had hoped for, but the plate was good enough for lunch.
Probably the best part of NM Cafe are the popovers with strawberry butter. Flaky and buttery and strawberry-y. Too bad the bread didn’t find its way to the table until the entrees were served. All other tables had popovers shortly after they ordered, but I literally had to flag down a waiter.
My friend ordered the “bay of fundy salmon,” labeled on the menu as a “heart couture” dish (I’m not making this stuff up). This dish and the events which followed were more bay of pigs than fundy. On the first round, the salmon was completely overcooked and dry. Seeing as our waiter was nowhere to be…seen, we flagged down another waiter who took the dish away only to bring a second salmon that was completely raw.
At this point my friend had spent most of her time watching me eat. When our waiter did return to fill up our glasses (not acknowledging that we had returned a dish), we told him how the salmon was raw. His reply: “Well, how do you want it cooked?”
Au contraire, mister waiter. How about properly? I didn’t say that but it crossed my mind. I can bear a waiter who is distant and unsympathetic, but sharp tongues are uncalled for. Long story short, my friend ended up ordering the she-crab lobster bisque, but by then it was too late. The meal had been ruined.
But wait. The story isn’t over.
When our waiter did find the time to give us our check, a $2.50 coke was on the tab. Funny thing is, we didn’t order a coke, and yet a waiter delivered one to our table somewhere between Salmon 1 and Salmon 2. By now it was nearing 3:30, and I just wanted to leave. We decided to not mention the coke and just take it out of the tip. Upon handing him a Visa card, he replied, “We only accept American Express.”
Of course, Neiman. Of course, the only card you accept is American Express. Neither of us had the cash nor an American Express card, but thankfully I remembered there was an ATM machine outside of Neiman on the second floor. The initial shock though was less terrifying and more humorous.
Humorous in a sad, defeated kind of way.