Wow what a HUGE disappointment…. I had been looking forward to Salvation Taco since it’s opening back in December especially when I heard so many great things about it. For me, going out is about the food and the beverages, but as good as both of these were at Salvation Taco, it was not enough to make up for the horrendous service! Prior to my current job, I worked in hospitality for five years (in a five star, five diamond hotel) so yes I can be critical when it comes to good service because I know what it’s supposed to be like, but this was way beyond bad. In all of my years of dining out, I have never been reprimanded by a manager for telling a server that we had been waiting for our guacamole and chips for 30 minutes, nor have I ever been interrogated by the same manager about a missing taco!! I hate to start out my story like this, but I had to get it out… Now I will go over the series of events which led to this scathing review.
As soon as we walked in, I loved the ambiance immediately, it was loud and lively with brightly colored lanterns hanging from the ceiling, a big bustling bar, and a quieter lounge/library area in the back with two ping pong tables – so fun! We were told it would be about an hour wait which wasn’t a big surprise, so we settled in at the back lounge area where we found a large table that had a reserved sign on it, but two guys were sitting there and told us that they had been told it was ok to sit until the party came. So we sat down, and asked a busser if it was ok, and he went to get our waitress. She came over and said it was fine, but that if the party came, we would have to move. We figured this could work out because hopefully our table would be ready by the time they came in. At this point our server disappeared, and we had to have the busser track her down so we could get a menu. She came with the food menu, but no drink menu. We then had to try and flag her down again so we could get the drink menu. This was already setting the tone for the rest of the night. When we flagged her down again to actually take our order, we decided to get 4 drinks for the three of us since we never knew when we’d see her next!
The cocktail menu was very cool, filled with fun twists on Mexican favorites. We went for the Salvation Margarita, La Palomita, Fly by Night, and Petaluma Punch. The margaritas were fantastic with the agave, fresh lime juice and chili salt, they had just the right amount of acidity and sweetness. The Petaluma Punch was my least favorite, it sounded like it would have been delicious with the strawberry infused rum, but something about it was just not good. The Fly by Night was also excellent, and I’m not even a gin fan, but the cinnamon vanilla bean and orange blossom made for a very refreshing mix. My cousin loved La Palomita with the tangy grapefruit soda and sweet vanilla salt. If the service hadn’t been so terrible, this would have been my new favorite drink spot in Murray Hill.
Since we were starting to get hungry, we asked if we could order something to pick on while we waited for our table, our server said it was fine so we got the Chips & Guacamole, Ceviche Verde con Chicharones, and Pork Belly and Pineapple Salad. I was very tempted to try the Crispy Pig Ears (I always like to try new things!), but everyone else looked at me like I had three heads so I was out voted on that one. No sooner had we ordered, when a hostess came to our table to let us know that the party for whom the table was reserved had arrived. We told her we had just ordered some food and were waiting for our table to be ready, so she went to check on the status of our table. She came back shortly after, letting us know it was ok to stay and that they would be seated somewhere else. So far so good…
It had been awhile since we ordered, and still no food. We asked our busser if he could check on the chips and guac which surely had to be the easiest item to bring out. We decided to order some tacos in the meantime, since it seemed like we should get a head start since the service was so slow. I wanted to try one of each and we practically did! We ordered the Roasted Cauliflower with Curried Crema, Skirt Steak with Pecan and Chipotle, Crispy Sweetbread with Chickpeas, Moroccan Lamb on Naan, and Korean BBQ.
The ceviche was the first item to come out (apparently they don’t bring everything together), and it was quite delicious. The pairing of the crispy pork rinds with the citrusy fish was an excellent combination. The plate was tiny though, and we quickly ate it all up!
Next came the pork belly and pineapple salad which was my cousin’s pick and something I typically wouldn’t order, but I was really surprised. It was filled with cilantro and large chunks of pineapple in a sweet dressing and was a great juxtaposition to the fatty, salty pork belly. And still no guacamole and chips… We now asked our server for the third time…
While she went to go check on our chips, another hostess (later I found out she was a manager), came to tell us that our table was ready if we’d like to move. We told her we wouldn’t mind staying, since we had an open tab with our server, but that we didn’t want to have to move if another party came since our table was reserved. While she left to go to talk to the hostess, we told our server the situation and asked if she wanted us to close out the tab or transfer it or what. Her exact answer was “that’s a really good question, I don’t know what we should do”. So when the manager came back to get us to move to the new table, and we told her that our server didn’t know what to do, she told us that was not the case, and that our server surely knew how to transfer a check and that we must have misunderstood. Um ok…
We sat down at our new table in the livelier bar area, and someone else came over to ask if we needed anything. Since no one really introduced themselves, we really didn’t know if he was our server, busser or what. We did however tell him that we had ordered guacamole and chips about 30 minutes ago and still hadn’t gotten it. A couple minutes later, he comes back with our guac finally! And he also brings the tacos minus the Korean BBQ taco. After all that, the guacamole was good, but nothing extraordinary.
The same lady who had brought us to our table comes over (with an attitude), basically accusing us of complaining to our waiter about the 30 minute delay on the guac and chips. She also examined our table because she didn’t believe that we did not get the Korean BBQ taco! We basically had to re-count what we had eaten thus far because she said the kitchen told her that they definitely gave us the taco. Really?!! We are arguing over a $5 taco here!! I’m sorry, but the number one rule in hospitality is that the customer is always right – and in this case we were really right! She got very rude with us, and in a snotty way said she’d take care of the chips and guacamole, but my cousin told her it wasn’t necessary and that we would pay for it. As a side note, not only did we pay for it, but they also charged us an additional $3 for extra chips! I have never met such a terrible manager in all my life.
This is the Korean BBQ taco (pictured below), which as you can see from the first picture above was clearly not included in the first round of tacos. I must say the manager left such a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended), that I am surprised I could even enjoy the food. The lamb was by far my favorite, it wasn’t at all a taco in the true sense of the word, but it was fantastic. The lamb was so tasty and tender and the fresh naan bread was soft and chewy with the cool tzatziki and crunchy cucumbers – bite size heaven! The cauliflower with the curry crema was such an unusual spin on a taco, but very light and delicious. The skirt steak with the pecans was meaty and crunchy and the soft tortillas were really light and you could tell they were homemade. The Korean BBQ taco (after all the effort to get it), really was worth it. It was a genuine amalgamation of all good things Korean in a Mexican tortilla – brilliant! My least favorite was the sweetbreads, it was deep fried which I’m not a huge fan of, and I didn’t taste any chickpeas – maybe they forgot to put it on there along with my Korean taco! And I will tell you what – the tacos were amazing – but I will not come back because of their appalling service.
You would think we would have gotten up and left after finishing off the tacos and cocktails, but we were already here, and I had heard that the Churros with Mexican Chocolate were to die for, so I had to try them. We all got a little excited when they came, and forgot to take a picture right away, so there were actually four on the plate to begin with. The dough was warm and covered with sugar, and the chocolate was on the darker side and a bit bitter. They were good, but not as great as I had envisioned. The dough itself was kind of bland, and I found it lacking in flavor. Growing up in South Florida there was a churros truck called Celia’s Churros, and every Saturday on our way home from horseback riding when I was young we’d stop and get some – now those were amazing churros!
As I said earlier, I was so disappointed with our experience at Salvation Taco – the food is delicious and the cocktails are awesome, but for the amount of money that we paid and for how badly we were treated, I will not be coming back here any time soon.
Rating: ♥ ♥
Salvation Taco | www.salvationtaco.com | 145 E. 39th Street