My wife is an employee of the Great American Insurance Group and as part of their Christmas party last year we were given two $75 gift certificates to use at the Cincinnatian Hotel’s Palace Restaurant or Cricket Lounge. She used one of the gift certificates for lunch at the Palace with her family a few weeks ago and while she commented that the food was good, the service left something to be desired.
Fast forward to last Friday, the last day the gift certificate could be used. We still had one certificate left so we decided to head down for another lunch. Upon our arrival around 11:30 we checked with the Palace to see if we could get a table. Despite the nearly completely empty dining room we were told that they were booked solid with reservations. I’m assuming that most of the reservations were for noon, and we did see a steady stream of people arrive throughout our visit.
Since we had still beaten most of the lunch rush, we were able to find a table in the seat yourself Cricket Lounge. Our service started off great, with our drink order taking only a few minutes to fulfill. However as time went along and the lounge got more and more crowded, it was clear that the single server was going to struggle keeping up with the demands from the entire lounge.
My wife started with a bowl of the soup of the day, butternut squash ($6), while I started with the farm greens salad with apples, candied walnuts, aged cheddar, and sherry vinaigrette (full $8, half $4). The salad was full of flavor from the sweet toppings and cheese. Plus the sherry vinaigrette dressing was wonderful. I really enjoyed this salad and would easily order it again. Though I’m not sure why it took a half hour for the starters to appear at our table.
For lunch my wife had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with fries ($9). The sandwich was piled high with pulled pork that appeared to already be mixed with some sauce and then it was topped with even more Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce. I wish they would prepare their own BBQ sauce for the sandwich, as I feel it could definitely have been better. The fries were nice and crisp but definitely nothing out of the ordinary.
I went with the turkey wrap which comes filled with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, and dijonnaise on whole wheat wrap ($11). I like that the wrap comes grilled on a panini press so that the wrap itself has a bit of a crunch to it, while the insides remain slightly chilled as you would expect in a wrap. I definitely enjoyed this more than the pulled pork sandwich. And the house made kettle chips were also more enjoyable than the fries.
I was hoping to be in and out in an hour, that was one of the reasons we got down there as early as we could. Unfortunately it took over two hours for our meal. I would think that most business-people downtown would want to be in and out at a quicker pace, especially in the more casual lounge area. I think it was purely a staffing issue, and they shouldn’t expect one server to be able to handle the entire space, especially when they know the gift certificates that all employees received were expiring that day.