When Rick Nichols panned the "5 bites" lunch special in the Philadelphia Inquirer, MCRF and I were only strengthened in our resolve to try it. (See link to article at end of this post). After all, what lunch special involving sliders, beer, and a cupcake could be bad? As it turns out, the food was fine, the service, however, was not.
The Five Bites consists of warm pretzel bites with mustard, jalapeno jam, and creamy cheddar sauce dips, your choice of two sliders (I went with lobster roll and cheeseburger, opting against fish burger or hot dog), a shot of signature corn chowder, a mini cupcake, and your choice of Victory beer. For $22, including the beer. Nichols panned this amount and mix of food for lunch and while I agree it's on the heavier side, the portions were small and overall manageable.
So here's how it played out -- delicious warm small pretzel bites were served. MCRF and I proceed to start dipping away. Not being a mustard fan and finding the jalapeno jam to just be sweet, my pick was the cheddar cheese sauce, which tasted a lot like ... butter. About 30 seconds into these, our sliders arrived. Hmmm. Soup's good, but what to let get cold next? Also, the burger comes pre-topped with ketchup, mustard, pickles. Did I mention I didn't like mustard? I haven't had this happen since McDonald's. Strange. Oh wait! Several minutes into that course, we're being asked if we're ready for our cupcake. The moment I finished, my plate was whisked away, even though MCRF was far from done. That didn't stop every server who passed us by from continually trying to clear her plate, despite her still not being done. And serving me a cupcake before her. I look around; plenty of tables, no need for a quick turnaround. Looking further into the lobby, I find we're still at the Ritz, where I expect far better service. The cupcake was, in fact, delicious, easily the highlight of the meal. And Victory beers never fail to deliver.
Our server asked us about the Nichols article. We shared that we had read it and were not deterred, since his main gripe was about the 5 Bites menu. Had I known about the service, however, I might have stayed away. Top Chef contest and 10 Arts chef Jennifer Carroll was reportedly out of town for August, so I'm trying not to associate this experience with her.
10 Arts is located at the Ritz Carlton, Broad and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia. Mr. Nichols' article can be viewed at http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/rick_nichols/20100829_Cobb_salad_at_Ritz-Carlton_s_10_Arts_a_thing_of_beauty.html.