Mia’s Balcony* (#268, 7/19/13) – 32
I’ve driven by Mia’s Balcony many times as it has a great location on St. Charles Ave. Finally, I made my way there (primarily due to a group-on). To start with, Mia’s basically gets destroyed on Yelp. It almost made it more appealing as I wanted to see if it could really be that bad – the service seemed to be the biggest issue. My quick take on the place – I don’t see it staying open much longer. I couldn’t help thinking that it must cost a fortune to have a high-end (high-price) St. Charles Ave location; wouldn’t you spend some money on the workers as well?
Anyway, here’s the breakdown. I’ll start with atmosphere. It is a very nice space in a cool older-looking building. It has a nice deck/patio (not really a balcony) out front, and inside, it is average sized with nice open space and high ceilings. Unfortunately for them, there was nobody else in the place at 7:30 on a Friday night. In some ways, that can be a good thing, but I like to have a little activity around me in a restaurant. The number one atmosphere issue however, was the tv in the bar. The place is split, essentially down the middle, bar on one side, restaurant on the other – though you can look into the bar, just a half-wall type divider. Apparently, with so few customers, they get bored, so the tv was blaring loud enough for us to hear on the other side of the place. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a decent show, but I don’t need to hear it during dinner. So out of 30 for atmosphere, I’m giving it a 10.
I’ll bounce to food next. A couple of dishes to evaluate from and the fish was outstanding. Unfortunately, their website is down (another bad sign) and the Urban Spoon menu is from 2010, but it was their main fish special, served with red fish this time and it was very tasty. A solid meal. This shows a major flaw in my ratings/reviews. I often only eat one thing, so if I had this, I probably would have give them in the high 30s for food. Instead, I had the filet mignon – which I was excited about since the menu says it’s wrapped in bacon with a chimichurri sauce, both favorites of mine. Unfortunately, there was no bacon. And no chimichurri sauce. And instead of being cooked medium, it was much closer to well done. In other words, it was quite bad. The potatoes were okay, asparagus was marginal at best. Out of 50 points for food, I’m giving it a 20 – the red fish is the only reason it made double digits.
And now, onto the service. Again, the Yelp reviews killed their service. However, I thought our waitress was nice enough, maybe a little over-attentive at first, but no issues at all. She did tell us the fish was salmon before being corrected by another waiter, but not really a big deal. It did take a little bit to actually get a drink offered, but not a big deal. I probably only noticed because of the Yelp reviews. So service had a chance at a decent score…until the bill. We were actually using a Restaurants.com gift certificate, printed that day. When we offered it up, she said, “I’m sorry, we are no longer accepting those. The owner has been trying to let them know.” To be fair, we didn’t mention it before ordering, but on the other hand, we just printed it that day, specifically for Mia’s. Not all that happy about this development, but whatever. Surprisingly, she came back and said the owner would accept it today. So back on track. The original bill was $52; the updated bill was $37. Let’s see, 52-25 equals…37? We mentioned the discrepancy and she came back with an itemized bill, which included at the bottom an “other charge” for $10. She explained that is the gratuity. Good to know as it was just slipped in with no mention of tip being included. So anyway, that seems like a pretty dirty trick which gives them a 2 for service.
Final score: 32. I believe my lowest ever, which seems mean. It has some good food and some location, but the bad steak followed by them essentially trying to cheat us makes them deserving of a terrible total.