In honor of Halloween, thought I would share some of the more harrowing experiences I've had, purely from a customer service perspective:
1. Wieners Circle
I know the late-night, post-bar crowd expects to be yelled at, but I've been there at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, and the servers are just as grumpy. The Tribune's Kevin Pang had a hilarious bit on his "Cheeseburger Show" showing just how abusive they can be (warning, R-rated language ensues).
2. Gene & Georgetti
It may be the oldest steakhouse in town, but so are the waiters - as aloof as Uncle Fester and abrasive as Don Rickles; don't even think of sitting down in the front bar area unless you're a "regular." They will literally leave tables empty while you wait in the bar, just in case one walks in.
Amazing food, talented young chefs and ridiculously incoherent and absentee service. Danny Meyer would cringe, as the phone is left unanswered and reservation requests not even fielded. As much as I love the chefs doubling as servers, they add nothing more than a "this is ----ing awesome, dude." Ask them to turn down the music and they'll likely throw you out on your ass.
4. Il Mulino
I'll never forget I brought my Italian-American friend here for dinner after they first opened. We waited in the bar almost an hour past our reservation. When we were seated, I realized why the wait: our pompous server recited every single item on the "specials" card, doing his best Pavarotti - a good 5 min. ordeal - (most of which contained white wine, garlic and olive oil) before setting down the card between us to read for ourselves. When I politely told them the pasta was undercooked - even by al dente standards - the dude told me I must not know what real Italian food is like, because there was no way it was undercooked. It was the only time I felt like a tourist in my own city.
Very good burgers - slightly overrated at this point - served by a staff that could seemingly care less about what you'd like and how you'd like it, save for the internal temp of the beef. As for the comically loud music...by now, it comes off as if they're trying too hard to say 'hey yuppies, you don't like Metallica at 947 decibels? Well too ----ing bad, we do, and we're bad-ass, so deal with it!'