Nobody home at Harvey House

Stopped by the beautifully restored Harvey House diner at Union Station yesterday, but they were closing down an hour early due to grill problems (we had tried to get in last week for lunch, and gave up due to a 45-minute wait).

They did sell us milkshakes, in smallish containers (half-pint?), for $3.99 each. I was told they were made from Haagen Dasz ice cream, and they tasted like it (the strawberry was indeed fruit and not synthetic esters, as far as I could tell, and the chocolate was rich and true, a fairly rare event in the world of shakes… it definitely wasn’t just flavored with syrup).

They should mention this fact on the menu, because the buzz has been how reasonable the prices are, and when you first see that small cup, you think “I’m paying four bucks for THAT?” Of course, I was just looking at the paper giveaway menu, but that looks like it was copied from a larger version (hence the tiny 4 point type).

We also managed to get them to sell us pie. The apple version was a nice rendition of the national symbol, with a flaky crust and a decent filling.

But please give the banana cream pie a pass. The banana pudding part was far too sweet, and the “cream” topping was some fake kool-wip thing (it didn’t get cold like the bottom part, which reminded me of a friend who left a McDonald’s sundae on his dashboard accidentally… after a few hours, he returned, and it HAD NOT MELTED).

I have to say, though, that the most disappointing part was the service. Every single server and manager we spoke with (and we talked with at least four while we were there) seemed like they had been there for an hour past closing time and just wanted to go home. What the hell? They were closing an hour early, and why was it such a pain for a customer to ask for something that didn’t require the grill? We were willing to take it to go, so they wouldn’t have to deal with a table or dishes.

But they treated us like we were mosquitoes bothering them, getting in their way, big sighs and acting like the things they were selling us were huge favors. We had to go back and ask for the to-go forks (like I was gonna eat banana cream pie with my hands?), and the hostess seemed genuinely irritated. Not the way to endear yourself to your clients, Harvey House honchos!

Of course, I was taking my chances, visiting a new eatery in their first week. We’ll give ’em a few more weeks to hit their stride and try again.

Oh, and am I the only one lamenting the demolition of the way-cool laminar fountain in the Great Hall? How can this be the City of Fountains, and there be no public laminar fountains? I hope someone in a high place is putting their weight into this problem, pronto!


1 Comment

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One response to “Nobody home at Harvey House

  1. Unfortunately, I think that the service you received is pretty much all you can ever expect form Union Station, except for Pierponts (which is run independently of US).
    I’ve always had such high hopes for the Union cafe and the re-opening of Harvey’s. But somehow the staff always makes me feel unwelcome and unappreciated. I’ve worked in the restaurant/ bar industry a long time and have never known a place to stay open with that kind of predictably bad service.
    And yes, I also miss the fountain, also a point of discussion on our trip there this weekend.

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