Last night, my husband and I came into Solera to celebrate by 30th birthday with a special birthday dinner - which was, sadly, anything but special. My husband, who isn't the surprise/reservation type (that's usually my job) - called Solera earlier in the week to see if someone would brainstorm with him as to how to make the night birthday-worthy. The person taking the reservation assured him that Solera had a certain romantic table on the patio that they used for special occasions like birthdays/engagements, etc. and that they would bring out a surprise dessert. When we arrived at Solera last night, the host looked at our reservation, and said ""do you still want to sit outside?"" - of course we did, because there was a special table waiting for us - right?! We walk outside, and were seated at a table next to a faux bamboo/wicker curtain with the service station behind it and my (very tall) husband's chair nearly fell of the stairs (not exactly romantic). Sure, we could see what we assume was the ""special table"" just across from us with lovely lighting and secluded by tree trunks, but apparently another couple had claimed that honor. To be honest, there was nothing special about our evening (the chef coming out and greeting all the tables on the patio except ours, was a nice touch).
The thing is, we would have been happy to pay a little extra for something special - we would have been thrilled to have anything that made this more than just a regular dinner - but that wasn't even an option. My husband chose Solera because I go there fairly often with my girlfriends and he thought that Solera may do something a little extra for my birthday - but he ended up apologizing to me for not going to Twelve, Potager, Tables or Fruition where we knew we would be treated well. Once he told me all this (over the entree), I encouraged him to mention something to the manager or host, but at that point, he didn't really know how to ask *again*. After dinner, he suggested that we try the birthday dinner again somewhere else this week.
I think what upsets me the most is that my husband rarely does surprises - and when he does, he really tries to impress me (I'm a bit of a restaurant snob with my girlfriends). However, our dinner at Solera was so disappointing, I'm willing to bet that he'll now think the dinner surprise plan isn't really worth it. I'm hurt, I'm irritated, I'm vocal...and I don't see myself or any of my girlfriends returning to Solera anytime soon. I think it is only fair that a restaurant that prides itself on service and atmosphere should know that staff shouldn't make empty promises to lure someone into the restaurant for a special event when we could have/would have gone somewhere else.