|This entry refers to a departed business that has closed or left town. All information here is for historical reference only.|
|630 G Street|
|(in the G Street Shopping Center next to the Davis Food Co-op|
|Dog-friendly alfresco dining on the patio|
|Lunch Fridays 11:30am-2pm|
|Dinner Tues - Sat 5:30-9pm|
|Wine Tasting Every Tues 4:30-6:30pm|
|Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm|
|Closed on Mondays|
|Not required, but they are happy to take them|
|e-mail [email protected] or phone (530) 792-8066|
|Available for private events|
Opened 11th January, 2011
|Cash, Check, Credit Card, UCD Purchase Order, Davis Dollars|
|Dinner Lunch Brunch|
|Current menus here|
|Business closed July 2015|
Previously located in Winters, Monticello is the Davis version of the former Monticello Bistro and Tastebuds Catering. Owners Rhonda & Tony Gruska have joined forces with local farmer Jim Eldon, the owner of Fiddlers Green Farm to provide a seriously local and fresh dining experience. In addition to the Davis restaurant, they offer full-service catering, and continue to have a booth at the Davis Farmers Market. The new restaurant location was formerly occupied by Osaka Sushi. While the shopping center where it's located is rather dated, the decor inside is quite modern and very classy.
In addition to interesting and flavorful food, the menu showcases seasonal appropriateness, regional resources, freshness and minimal interference between source and plate. The wine and beer list features local and regional selections. The wine list is reasonably expansive, and while the beer selection is small, it includes some excellent beers from breweries like Berryessa and Bison. There's a small bar where you can sit and enjoy your selection. Coffee is provided by local roaster The Pepper Peddler. It's pressed and quite strong—in a good way. This "farm to fork" business reflects the values and sustainable future of Yolo County and the region.
Their weekend brunch has a separate menu with a decent mix of breakfasty and lunchy options, most of which include some seasonal veggies. If you're looking for something unusual and delicious, try the savory cheese strata. Portions for most dishes are modest—not small, but certainly not overwhelming. If you bring a big appetite, you'll probably want to to order a side with your meal. Most of the brunch entrees run about $8-12 (from memory), while most of the sides are $3-5.
An 18% service charge is added to every bill, regardless of party size.
The staff are quite friendly, and they seem to know the food very well—generally a good sign. They do seem to run out of some of the menu options, so be forewarned. Possibly an indication of the tastiest options?
Sign up for their mailing list at [email protected]
|Four tastes for $5 w/ Davis Enterprise Wine Columnist Susan Leonardi "Wineaux"|
|Classical Bassoon with Ricardo Rosales|
|Picnic in the Park food booth, March-October|
|Live Music with Dinner|
|Octave Mandolin with house musician Bob Wren|
|Jazz Piano with Ken Kemmerling|
|Sketch Sunday Davis & Live Music|
|Watch art being created, Listen to Bob & Donna Wren, Art created is for sale|
|Jazz Brunch with Jon Spivak on guitar|
|Live music with George Sheldon & Sandra Carter|
Join Davis Enterprise Wine Columnist Susan Leonardi, Wineaux, to sample four (sometimes more) specially selected wines for $5. Susan pours wines from their extensive wine list, in addition to wines from winemakers who would like to be on their list. Appetizers are available until the kitchen starts serving dinner at 5:30pm. Come for wine tasting and appetizers at the bar or start at the bar and then move to a table for dinner or come in for dinner before Susan departs at 6:30pm and participate in the wine tasting at your table. Anyway you choose, it is a pleasant way to spend a Tuesday evening!
Monticello sources its ingredients and local wines from: Fiddlers Green Farm (Jim's Farm),Bledsoe Pork, Beryessa Gap, Bogle, Cache Creek Lavender, Capay Valley Vineyards, Coco Ranch, Dixon Ridge Farm, Fiddlehead Cellars, Five Dot Ranch, Free Spirit Farm, Fulll Belly, Full Circle Farm, Good Humus, Lester Farms, Lloyd Johnson, McDonald Orchards, Mike & Diane Madison, Riverdog Farm, Marr Cellars, Matchbook, Mt. Moriah Farms, Murdock Farm, Putah Creek Winery, Sawbuck, Senders Wines, Simas Vineyards, Tomei Cellars, Traverso Wines, Vezer Vineyards, Wilson Vineyards.
Stance on food trucks and Davis restaurants
Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular around the country, and many restaurateurs (such as Bobby Coyote of Dos Coyotes) worry that they would hurt Davis's restaurants, especially its mom-and-pop restaurants. However, Rhonda Gruska, co-owner of Monticello was quoted in the Enterprise as being in favor of the arrival of any good food, whether it comes from a truck or a building, because it forces everyone to up their game and gives Davis a reputation for putting out quality, cutting-edge meals: "There’s not a lot of good food in Davis. The more thriving a food community we are, the better off all restaurants are. If we get known as a food town and people want to come here because we have all these different cool things going on, it benefits all of us." Bob Dunning accused Gruska of offending nearly every other restaurant owner in town; according to Dunning, Gruska called him and said that she was "sticking with her statement that 'There’s not much good food in Davis.'" Dunning further reports that Gruska said that "being married to a chef will do that to you" and that "of course her chef is one of the good ones." It's unclear from the way that Dunning's article is written whether the last statement is supposed to be from Gruska herself or if it's Dunning's editorial comment; Gruska says it's his editorial comment, and that the exact quote is "There’s not a lot of good food in Davis" rather than what Dunning said that she said, which was "There’s not much good food in Davis." Was part of what she meant that they use food from local organic farmers which other restaurants don't?
2010-12-13 13:08:20 We had them cater our wedding and the food was delicious. They worked with us every step of the way to make sure we got exactly what we wanted on the menu at a price that was affordable to us. Can't wait to dine at the restaurant! The same people sell delicious stuff at the Farmer's Market too (seasonal pickled foods, spreads, and jams). —themichelle
Thanks for the plug! Your wedding was fabulous fun and we can't wait to serve you at our new place when we open (any day now)! —Rhonda, Tony & Jim
2011-01-14 13:56:09 I dined there last night with three friends and we had a wonderful experience. They're still in "soft opening" mode, so we got to witness Alex Roth of The Pepper Peddler installing a customized grinder and a muralist at work on the back wall. The space is beautifully open and the food is exactly what you'd expect from our Farmers Market favorite: local, fresh, high-quality and interesting. Surprise hit: local, seasonal take on Patatas Bravas. Service was great, the wine list has lots of local choices that I'm excited to explore and the wine-barrel bar looks awesome.
If you've never worked in the service industry or have little patience, do yourself a favor and wait a month until you visit... But if you're already in love with Monticello offerings from other venues and are willing to participate in their learning/polish process, go, go now! —KemblePope
2011-01-16 10:42:08 We just had a delicious brunch. Less than a week after their soft opening, not all of the menu is available, but what we had was excellent and the ginger scones are to die for. The interior has been entirely redone and is bright and inviting even on a misty morning. —dylancooke
2011-01-23 20:27:35 Had dinner at Monticello a few nights ago with some friends. Even though they are still in their “soft open” stage everything was great! All the hipe and waiting was totally worth it. The salads with the house made dressings are some of the best over. They are really great at using what is local and in season which means don’t expect basil pesto in winter!!! But they did have a great arugula pesto pasta a week ago that was very yummy. I would say the best part had to be dessert!!! Their baker is amazing! She came from Nugget market and I have been hearing all about her at the farmers market so when we went in of course we had to check it out by ordering one of each dessert. The Lemon Rosemary cake with lemon curd filling and goat cheese frosting blew us away!! Who would have thought, very creative. We will defiantly be going back to check out the seasonal desserts often. Bet Nugget feels silly for letting that one get away but we are very happy for the fresh breath of creativity to Davis. Thank you so much Monticello and looking forward to the “Grand Opening”. —MaxineC.Wallace
2011-01-23 22:35:46 Thanks everyone! We are working so hard. We appreciate your support and thanks for the wise words KemblePope. People often forget about all of the energy that went into the restaurant before it even opened (and Jim is still trying to find someone to take on management of the farm). We are thrilled, but also pretty exhausted. Our friends, adrenaline, and Pepper Peddler coffee are keeping us going. Stick with us and we will make you all proud to say you supported us from the start. —RhondaGruska
2011-02-03 14:50:44 Went for lunch today and was happy overall. Glad for the "warning" about the service...if we hadn't of known that before hand, we may have been a little put off. But since we knew everything was new, it was all ok. :) There's a couple things though our table wanted to mention: 1. The Endive Gratin has potential but it seemed a little undercooked and needed a little thickening as far as the milk sauce (sorry, don't know what to call it properly) was concerned. 2. In the salads that have walnuts- I think they would be better if they were carmalized a tad. it would be a nice flavor combo with the bleu cheese and the vinegarette dressing. 3. The soups were a bit bland. None of us at the table normally cook with or add salt to anything, but we had to add some for the soup otherwise it tasted flat. 4. Why did my iced tea glass come out only half full? The tea was VERY good though. The service was friendly, if a bit slow. We are looking forward to making it a regular spot for lunch/dinner when the kinks get worked out! And thanks for making the accomidation for the stroller! —jsbmeb
2011-02-04 10:11:49 I think this restaurant is perfect for Davis. I have been there for lunch and dinner. Both were good, but I can see where there is some fine tuning to be done. I had a ham and cheese sandwhich for lunch which was very good. My co-worker had the pulled pork sandwhich. While she liked the pork the sauce tasted like straight tobassco sauce. Also, it would be nice if it was served on a warm or toasted bun. The cole slaw, which we both love, was good but had a fair amount of horseradich which was fine with me, but a diner behind me did not like the heat. Dinner was good as we order the stew. I order the beet and green soup as well. The stew was very good with polenta. The soup didn't have much flavor and it was a little oily with the beef broth. I agree with another diner, that it was lacking in just a little salt. I tend to under salt and both of the dinner dishes needed more. Also, on the soup menu, the beet and green soup did not say it was made with beef broth. So, they should add that as a vegetarian would have been disappointed. I will be back though as I really liked the atmosphere and the concept. —LokiAbbi
2011-02-07 21:23:25 Thanks for the feedback. I too have had endive gratin, one of my favorites, and it has not been the consistency it should be. There is definitely something going on there, as no matter how much we blanch and cook it, it is still tough. This has not been the case in the past. Jim, our farmer partner, says it is probably starting to bolt, and this makes it woody. We will take it off the menu for now and bring it back in the future. On the salt issue, many restaurants use quite a bit of salt in their dishes, as they want you to drink more. However we have many customers who are watching salt in their diets who are thrilled that our food is not salty. You can add salt, but you can't take it out. On the soup, there was not beef broth involved. Only olive oil. Without the Parmesan, it was also vegan and this made many of our vegan customers happy. The hot sauce served with the pulled pork is vinegar based Frank's Red Hot. It can be a bit spicy for some, so that is why we serve it on the side. Same with the cold slaw. It is laced with horseradish. Not everyone's cup of tea, but the Bledsoe pulled pork sandwich does have a large following. We are always happy to accomodate strollers and have several high chairs and booster seats as well. Thanks for coming in and thanks again for your feedback. —RhondaGruska
2011-02-08 17:58:21 I'm quite surprised by all the friendly comments. I suspect that there are a lot of friends of the owners posting here. That was definitely NOT my experience. The service was fine. Definitely a little distracted, but that isn't surprising given a new restaurant. I had huge problems with the food. Between us, we ordered two salads, two entrees, and one desert. All five dishes were greatly under seasoned. Both salads were fresh but greatly under dressed. Somehow the chef made the pasta tasteless. Even the parmesan cheese on the pasta was tasteless, so there is a clear quality of ingredients issue. I ordered the duck which came with gummy gelatinous skin, on top of tasteless overcooked polenta, and a brown tasteless sauce. To top it all off the menu said that the dish comes with chanterelle mushrooms instead mine came with brown button mushrooms. A pretty tacky bait and switch. All in all the whole experience wasn't worth the price I paid. —rickyspeak
2011-02-11 16:01:44 I have had great experiences with Monticello. Enjoyed the Veggie stew this week and it was delicious! The chefs are great about listening to food allergies. My good friend is gluten and dairy free and they had several options for her that many other restaurants in Davis are unwilling to provide. I was also very happy to see that our waitress was being fed towards the end of her shift. It is nice to see that some restaurant owners still care that their staff eat well (which isn't the norm in most cases). Really looking forward to seeing the entire bar finished and the edition of expresso drinks :) —KaitDancer
2011-02-12 22:31:12 We went there tonight and stood there for a few minutes before anyone acknowledged us. Restaurant 101-Greet your guest when they walk in....a simple, "someone will be with you in a minute" works. But when the woman did acknowledge us there wasn't a warm welcome, but a "do you have a reservation?" I told her no. She said "they" always recommend a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night. Who are they? And the funny thing is I came in earlier that day to look at the menu and I spoke to her...she didn't suggest it to me. She felt rude & it was off putting, she made me feel like I was bothering her. Maybe it was busy & maybe she was having a bad night—but we won't be back. First impressions are EVERYTHING to me! Some people just shouldn't be in the front of the house. I hope she reads this & takes this as constructive criticism and changes. Know your strengths, but also know your weaknesses to build on them. —LPGrote
2011-02-14 03:18:23 We wish we could immediately greet and seat everyone who walks in on busy nights, however there are only so many of us and only so many tables. People were certainly not standing around ignoring you! I do my best to be a good hostess, but I also jump in to buss tables, run credit cards, run food and wine, etc. as needed. Being extremely busy and being rude are very different things. We operate on the premise that while it is important to try to greet people when they walk in the door ASAP, it is even more important to take care of those who are already in the house. Even if you do not work in food service, you must have experienced times where you couldn't give someone your immediate attention, as you were already occupied taking care of someone else who required your attention first. On busy nights, I ask if you have a reservation, as it is important not to give away reserved tables. This weekend, nearly every table was occupied, already reserved, or had a party waiting for it for a good part of the evening. However, if you had mentioned that you wanted to join us that evening when you came to look at the menu, we would have been happy to reserve a table for you. Once the tables are full, there is not much we can do. Some people take our offer to wait at the bar until a table becomes available. However, even the bar was pretty occupied this weekend. The neat thing has been that many people say they want to remain at the bar once a table comes up, as they seem to enjoy it once they are there. We attribute this to the mood lighting and our great bartender! Please try us on T,W,or Th evening or during lunch or weekend brunch if you want less hustle and bustle than you might experience on a weekend....and on weekends, we recommend a reservation if you not have the time and/or patience to wait for a table. I do appreciate constructive criticism, but it goes both ways. My constructive criticism for you is that your life will be much less stressful if you try to be realistic and do not walk in the door with unreasonable expectations...and as the old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." And speaking of books... people can always visit Sweet Briar books while they wait. We are happy to give you a ring on your cell phone when a table opens up. —RhondaGruska
2011-02-14 23:16:01 This made me laugh "My constructive criticism for you is that your life will be much less stressful if you try to be realistic and do not walk in the door with unreasonable expectations." This wasn't your best friend who is afraid to tell you the truth. If you want to succeed you need to be more humble. The problem was NOT that you didn't have a table, but that you didn't make her feel welcome. And then you launch into a tirade about how you're right. Please, please take a step back and ingest what she is telling you. Neither her comment nor mine is unkindly meant. —dizzyditz
2011-02-15 19:46:37 This is my experience which may or may not shed light on what it feels like to enter this establishment. I never went to the place when they were open in Winters. Always wanted to but didn't. I tried two offerings in the farmer's market - both were truly awful - a pesto and a relish - bought at different times. BUT I decided to check out the new place because I have been in the food business ( I was once a partner in a large and successful catering business in Manhattan) and I always give restaurants a break so I went in on my way to the coop. It was Valentines and I knew they would be full but it was early and I thought I would look at the menu and see what was what. A blonde woman (whoever that is) barely smiled and reluctantly handed me the menu. When I asked what the regular hours were she answered, "They are printed on the door," and walked away. No one was in the place. They had just opened. If this restaurant is that busy and successful they can't even be civil then they are doing too well to miss my business. Please don't answer this with an excuse. There is another restaurant in town that does very well with a surly hostess so maybe it works. Be well. —AHoffmann
2011-02-16 00:54:05 The food? Amazing. The service? Good, but you can tell the place is new. Kemble had it right. Know what you're walking in to - a new restaurant with a new staff and a little bit of polishing left. For this reason, a lot of the negative reviews here bother me. What do you expect, people? It's a new restaurant. If that bothers you, if you want the Arby's experience, where a server has memorized the three ring binder and will make no minor slip ups, give Monticello a few months to get organized and go to Applebee's instead. Rhonda is great, but from eating here a few times and watching the place operate, I can see how someone just showing up might not realize that she might say "Hi," when you come in, but she can't stick around and chat - she's also running the restaurant, doing business related stuff, and trying to manage a new serving staff.
Regarding AHoffman's review... I found that to be the most egregious. I don't run a restaurant or anything, I'm certainly not a high falootin partner in a big successful manhattan catering business as he is, apparently with big city expectations. I just live in town and eat here a bunch. I wasn't there when (I'm guessing) Rhonda told him where the hours were posted and handed him a menu in a "surly" manner (really? REALLY? Surly? SERIOUSLY?), but I can imagine the situation and see how it would be hard for an owner to just unlock the doors and start opening on what should have been a day off for restocking and such, greet AHoffman in an unstressed manner, hand him a menu, and, I don't know what his expectations of hospitality were, perhaps he wanted her to drop everything, stop preparing the restaurant for a PACKED evening, stand there, and smile at him and watch him while he read the menu, on the off chance he had a question. I just don't get it. If I'm ducking into a restaurant to just look at a menu, I like to be left alone. To each his own.
I love this place. I love the philosophy of it. I love knowing that what I ate came from near by, and that Tony's in the back, figuring out how to take the random ingredients that local farmers have available and put them into something unique. I love the people who run it, they're good people. I like that I know the farmers they buy from. I like that I can trust what I eat, because they care about what goes in their food. I like the fact that they don't serve anything out of a can. I like that I can talk with the owners during my meals. I know a lot of their servers from the Co-op - Monticello is one of the few businesses in town actually hiring people in this downturn, you know. That's rare. Very rare. I love the fact that they're not yet another sushi, pizza, or thai restaurant. I actually like going during these early, unpolished, opening weeks. I love that Rhonda, Tony, and what was that other guy's name? Kevin? I love that they took a risk in the toughest economic climate of our generation, and put it ALL on the line just so we could have some good food, that they fixed up and completely remodeled this total wrecked dump Osaka left behind and transformed an empty, failed store front blighting our town into this vibrant, creative, unique business. I love that they did all of this for us, and still manage, somehow to smile and show us a good, comforting time, despite the stress and insanity of opening not only a new business (stressful), but a new restaurant business (VERY stressful). Seriously, if I were in their position, under that kind of stress, I would be bald, cranky, and insane.
You people, you nit pickers, you doubters, you curmudgeons, for reals, take a step back, reflect, be grateful for what this is, and support it. This is a rarity. This is a gem. This is employment for at least a dozen people in a disastrous economy. This is Davis, and it needs us. [Users/"EdwardNiemand"] —EdwardNiemand
2011-02-16 01:06:08 Oh, though, one small suggestion. Take an awl to those salt shakers. You use this great flake salt, but it jams up the holes. After that, it's all over, and I'm playing the salt maracas over my dish for five minutes to season the food, especially the soups. Otherwise, much <3. —EdwardNiemand
2011-02-16 15:32:20 Hey, this is Mary, the bartender at Monticello. The pulled pork sandwich is one of my favorites here, especially washed down with a cold Acme Ale. We have so many great beers and wines, with food available at the bar too. Come down and see me, and check out our selection :) —MaryMurphy
2011-02-16 21:36:10 After reading all the comments here, I had to check this restaurant out for myself. It was my birthday and when asked where I wanted to go, I requested Monticello.
The comments about unfriendly help written here must have been taken to heart. Everybody on the wait staff seemed to be competing for the Ms/Mr Congeniality prize.
The comments about the slowness of the service, though, were sadly true. While we were seated immediately, we were there for 15 minutes before we got water, bread or menus. It was 45 minutes before our food came and we waited 15 minutes for the check. I should add that the place was only about half full and one table of patrons was seated, served, and left before we got our food.
However, from reading what has been printed here, I was kind of prepared for that and was determined to relax and enjoy. Two in our party had steak, I had lamb chops and I have to say it was the most delicious lamb I've had in a restaurant in a very long time. My companions had the same comment about their steaks. The comments about the salt shaker, however, are true. My lamb needed salt and no amount of shaking of the shaker produced enough to make a difference. The potatoes and bok choy, however, were very nicely seasoned.
Because it was my birthday, I insisted on dessert. I was surprised that there was no dessert menu, but our server rattled off the four choices. We decided to share a chocolate tart (I think—there was a chocolate torte and a chocolate tart and I'm not sure which I ordered!). I'm very glad we decided to share it because though it was absolutely delicious, 1/3 of the dessert was more than enough because it was so dense and so rich.
It will be fun to watch this restaurant as it gets on its secure footing. I sincerely hope that wait-staff lessons continue and that the staff learns to prioritize. The table next to us, which the patrons had left, was cleared and re-set while we were still waiting to get our wine. If there had been a group of people waiting for the table, I could understand, but there was nobody at the front and we had been waiting 15 minutes.
I will definitely return, but if the service continues to be this slow, it may not make it as a regular place to eat. —BevSykes
2011-02-16 22:12:42 I also wanted to add that only two entrees on the menu have prices and everything else was read off by the waitress, who never told us the price (which ended up being more than we expected). I have a problem where there is more OFF the menu than on and you have too much to remember as the choices are rattled off without any indication whatsoever what the price is going to be. (Yes, it was our fault for asking, but in a good restaurant, we shouldn't have had to) —BevSykes
2011-02-17 20:00:41 Not sure what the comments about slow, unfriendly service are about. We were greeted promptly by the owner who was extremely friendly and our waitress was exceptional. She even got the bartender to come over and give us beer recommendations when we couldn't decide. And this is all aside from the AMAZINGLY delicious food. Will definitely be going back. —michelletrueblood
2011-02-18 04:24:41 Where is Kevin, your british bartender, this week? We really appreciated his beer expertise and friendliness, as well as the unusual beer choices and food pairings he recommended. We could see this becoming a regular neighborhood locale with the friendly, knowledgeable staff and pleasant atmosphere. —RobMadrone
2011-02-18 15:55:47 It's sad that people have to name call on wiki. I gave a sincere review on my experience, in hopes that the hostess would realize how it made us feel. If wiki is just for positive reviews than what's the point. And it would have made me feel better if the person just apologized and said come on back we don't want that impression left. But she didn't. So that's ok. But it still was my experience. And no I won't be going to Apple Bee's. =) —lgrote
*Lgrote, you missed the response to your earlier complaint. Rhonda Gruska is one of the owners of Monticello, and her post immediately follows yours. JudithTruman
2011-02-19 16:38:16 The hostess, who I think is the owner, was the rudest person I have ever spent 15 seconds with - she is awful and I hope she doesn't doom the restaurant. The food was also bad, everything needed salt. The hamburger was way to small for the bun. Small hamburgers are okay as long as the bun is also small — no one wants to take 3 bites of bun before the meat. My friend's lamb was cold and it looked like canned dog food.
There was maybe 1-2 vegetarian entrees, nothing for a vegan. Almost every salad had cheese and nuts on it, did they run out of ideas?
For the price, the menu was boring and uninspired. For what we spent at Monticello you can get way, way better food. —CatherineGarret
2011-02-20 08:55:56 While I do think the negative comments about here are way overboard, I do sincerely hope that the owners take the constructive critiscim about the Salt Issue to heart. This place has SO much potential to be a Davis staple and I really want to see it succeed- its so close to our house and love walking to the Co-Op, so we would make this a regular stop as well. —jsbmeb
2011-02-20 09:43:12 I went and tried this last night and was very pleased! The food was extremely fresh and the service was excellent. This is a great place to come for a nice night out or a special occasion. Looking forward to the full opening! They did actually have a vegan option! The vegetable stew was great and if you have it without the cheese on top, it's vegan! —cfb
2011-02-20 10:48:32 Well, the restaurant looks good, the food is reasonable, though I wish they'd get more adventurous with the seasoning. The menus clearly need work - when I went in there were just a few grubby dinner and wine menus and no beer or beverage list. The woman who seated me was offhand, but the server was pleasant and efficient. I've remarked elsewhere that for a restaurant in this class, presentation is half the battle, so getting well-printed and informative menus is a must. So is really good welcome from the start, and I have to say that is one of the things that should change. I certainly did not get a smile on entering, and the hostess seemed rushed and distracted. That requires some training, and the owners should take that up pretty quickly, otherwise word will spread, and they'll be left with just their friends and regulars.
The wine list was fabulous, and that will have me going back. My partner appreciated the attention from their beer guy, and the food falls just short of perfection (there's certainly a lot of it!) The table service was good for me, at least, though having a 'specials' board or menu would be nice too. I like to peruse a menu rather than have someone recite it. I've been there twice, and will almost certainly go back.
Rhoda, you should save your energies for getting a real welcome ready rather than defending your actions. From reading all these comments, that's a real big issue that you need to address. Get those menus looking good, get the welcome right, get the bar set up and keep all those friendly servers. Then for sure you'll have people coming back for more. —JaneyLamont
2011-02-20 14:17:36 Five of us had dinner there and the service was timely and pleasant. The lamb tagine was good after salting it three times to bring out the flavor. The pasta dish was short on flavor did not get finished, nor was it boxed to go. The Cobb salad with crab was good except for the arugula (does not belong in a Cobb salad) The crab chowder was tasty (even better with a little salt) and the vegatable "minestrone" in no way resembled minestrone and was described as a fairly bland vegetable soup. If they are leaving the salt out of the preparation for people on a low sodium diet, I would suggest making low sodium an option and season the dishes for the majority. They must have something against salt since it will only come out of the shakers under great duress.
The the Mexican bread pudding(chocolate and cinnamon) was very good as was the chocolate tart and chocolate tort, which was too much for one person to finish (the rest DID get boxed to go).
They do need to either post their prices for the specials (almost all entrees are specials) and/or state the price when they tell you about them before you order, as do most other fine restaurants (unless you are in a tourist trap location). Posting the specials in a couple easily viewed places would also keep them from having to repeat them later. 3 beers, 1 tea, 2 dinner salads, 4 soups, 4 entrees and 5 desserts with tax = $200
Monticello has good potential and we'll give them another try in a few months to see if they are responsive to customer comments. —Chuckles
2011-02-20 20:01:43 Hello all, I'm one of the owners daughters, Ella. Jim Eldon is my father (and no, Kevin is NOT one of the other owners, contrary to popular belief.) I would just like to say: the hamburger patties are hand-formed, so yes, sometimes they come out too small. Our apologies. And yes, nobody in the restaurant business has infinite time to talk to you while you are waiting to be seated. Again, we are sorry. Also, I highly recommend stopping by the bar sometimes...it is beautiful! —EllaEldon
2011-02-21 11:04:40 we surely didn't want her infinite time, the opposite would have been better. The problem with a lot of the owner's (owner's family) replies is that there is always a grand excuse, as if rudeness is acceptable and we have the problem. The best thing to do would be to hire a woman that CAN be civilized and the owner can do something else. —CatherineGarret
2011-02-22 20:41:07 We totally hear you on the salt folks. Any recommendations on the types of shakers that work well with sea salt, as that is what we use, would be appreciated. It is also lower in sodium, which makes it taste less salty, so this appears to make it even more important to be able to get plenty out in a few shakes. There is always the option of switching to good old Morton's. However, I am not sure our customers would prefer the anti-caking ingredients and other additives. Regarding the burgers, while they are hand shaped, they weigh in at 1/3 pound. The buns are made by Village Bakery, and we have requested a smaller bun, but they won't budge. We are searching for a new source for buns and will work to find something that fits the burger better if possible. BTW: Ella is only 14 years old and comes in to help out on weekends when she could be sleeping in. Perhaps she will get a restaurant management degree in the future and then I can stay at home, watch the Food Network, or take vacations to Hawaii. Of course, I will always take her calls so she can vent about the thankfully few customers who appear to think it is good sport to trash anyone and everything they can online or via e-mail empowered by their anonymity. For those of you who support our concept of local, seasonal, sustainable food, and a new restaurant that is doing its best to stimulate the local economy, thank you for your critiques. We are listening, are improving every day, and hope to see you soon. Ciao, Rhonda (the tough dame who runs the front of the house)! —RhondaGruska
2011-02-22 22:03:01 What is on the brunch menu? I am happy to see they are open early on weekends. —ChollaCat
2011-02-22 22:52:23 We moved the weekend brunch hours from 8am to 9am, so thank you for reminding me to change it on the Wiki. People weren't showing up that early and we were pretty tired after busy nights, so that extra hour of sleep should help me to be less surly. On the brunch menu, we serve Potato Pancakes with Housemade Applesauce & Sour Cream, Walnut Caramel French Toast, a Belgian Waffle with McDonald Honey Butter, Baked Eggs, House Cured Corned Beef with a Poached Egg, a Seasonal 3-egg Scramble, a Tofu Scramble, a Seasonal Cheese Strata, Croque Madame with a Poached Egg, Croque Monsieur, Carolina Style Pulled Bledsoe Pork with Horseradish Slaw, a Five Dot Burger (with an oversize bun, the Market Salad that we sell at Picnic in the Park, an organic Caesar Salad, a Grilled Organic Chicken Sandwich with Grilled Onions & Cheese, Cottage Fried Potatoes, Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, Bledsoe Italian Sausage, Sam's Walnutty Granola, A Ginger Cream Scone with Artisan Preserves, a Good Humus Dried Fruit Tart with Walnut Struesal, Tao of Tea loose leaf teas, Pepper Peddler French Pressed Coffee, a Seasonal Bellini, a Mimosa, & Parisian Hot Chocolate. I think covers most of the menu. We hope you will join us for brunch. —RhondaGruska
- I've been to one brunch. I had the Pulled Pork sandwich and really enjoyed it. The slaw had some bite, but was quite reasonable in flavor and copious in amount. My wife had a salad and scones, and really like both of them.—DougWalter
2011-02-23 09:57:51 I love Monticello! I've eaten there several times and have never had a bad experience. Favorites include the house-brined corned beef hash with poached egg for brunch, and also had one of the best steaks I've ever tasted for dinner. The beets with bechamel side is superb, and the desserts have been uniformly outstanding. I always find the differences in perception to be interesting. What one person might see as a friendly, warm welcome, another person might see as forced, overly familiar, and intrusive. No one is right or wrong, it's just a difference in opinion. I have always found the servers to be friendly and prompt without being cloying or annoyingly pesky. The phenomenon of sympathetic resonance seems to apply here - when a string is plucked, it will cause strings that are similarly tuned to resonate. Strings that are not similarly tuned will not respond. So if you love what Monticello is doing, you resonate with their aesthetic, and if you don't love it, you are just tuned differently. Not better, not worse, just different. Find another place that resonates for you, and those of us who harmonize with Monticello's aesthetic will be happily vibing away in our home away from home for years to come! —jkkehew
2011-02-25 13:03:11 I'm sorry that some customers feel they were treated rudely. My experience has been very different. The restaurant is closed from 2 to 5:30 and this is the only time the staff has to eat and prep for the dinner shift. The hours are posted but they can't lock the door if the building is occupied. If you came in at that time you may have been treated in brusque manner. I think this may have been the case for a few people who said they came by early and were not greeted with enthusiasm. I don't think you can fault the quality of the ingredients but everyone has different tastes. If you are cooking with really good ingredients you don't want to over spice the food or it will over power the flavor of the ingredients. This is not a Thai restaurant. —LucyJoseph
2011-03-01 11:24:04 Beers on tap are almost here! I'm having so much fun getting feedback and deciding what we will have. I look forward to seeing you at the bar. —MaryMurphy
2011-03-02 21:47:25 We just ate here for the second time, this evening, and it was wonderful. The food was very fresh, high quality, and delicious. We had the lamb, vegetarian stew, and meyer lemon pasta. They accomodated special dietary requests without any problem or delay. The service was attentive and we were greeted with a warm welcome. While this is certainly a sophisticated resturant, it is also family friendly. The wait staff (Caitlen) and owner (Rhonda) paid appropriate attention to our kids and were extremely friendly. At our first visit, Tony came out of the kitchen to see if our daughter liked her oatmeal (which was delicious!). This is a great addition to our dining choices in Davis! —MikeandElisa
2011-03-03 15:41:47 Their french toast (brunch on the weekends) is delicious! —Ravyn
2011-03-04 12:03:04 I've been looking forward to eating here for the first time. Have to say, though, theirs has to be the most useless restaurant website in Davis. At least include a sample menu and sample prices. No idea what you're headed there for, otherwise. —MupDup
2011-03-08 17:13:17 I had lunch here today with my mother. We were given printed menus and told of the two soups and daily pasta, and later of dessert. I thought the soups were beautifully seasoned—ham/white bean never needs a lot of salt in the broth because the ham will carry the savory-salty flavors into the broth; cream of broccoli was thick and slightly sweet, not bitter in the slightest. The lavender lemonade was tart/sweet in balance with an assertive (retronasal) lavender aroma. It was herbaceous, not soapy-overwhelming. The coffee-cardamom pot de crème had a nice texture and flavor. If you're a latte fan, try this custard! Our server was attentive and helpful throughout our meal. —JudithTruman
2011-03-16 18:04:17 The news from Monticello: For Saint Patrick's Day and the following Friday and Saturday, we will be serving House Brined Corned 5-Dot Beef with Parsley Sauce & Whole Grain Mustard Sauce and a side of Colcannon with Nante Carrots. For dessert, Nicole Main has baked a lovely Irish Whiskey Cheesecake with a Housemade Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust. The Kegerator with 3 taps for draft beer has arrived and we are conducting evening staff tastings until we come up with a nice selection (probably sometime next week). We have introduced our small plates and the menu (still a work in progress) will provide tasty options to accompany a drink. Lee and Will have carefully drilled larger holes in the salt shakers...so far, no complaints about them pouring too much at a time. We have two months under our belts now and things are going pretty smoothly. April marks our grand opening, all month long. Please come and celebrate with us. —RhondaGruska
2011-03-23 22:00:00 As someone who eats out in Davis almost every night of the week, I was extremely disappointed as well as offended by my second and LAST visit to this restaurant. Servers were sweet, and did their best. The food, other then the soup (which was tasty) was lacking in flavor and quantity, especially considering the price. After ordering a dish, that not only smelled like a barn and tasted bland yet terrible, I kindly asked to return it. Within minutes of doing so, the owner (a blonde lady-I believe referred to as Rhonda) decided that instead of asking why I had returned the meal, like most managers and owners would do, felt it necessary to ask why I would order something I didn't like. She then continued to explain to me, in her unbelievably rude and confrontational tone, even after I had agreed hesitation or argument to pay for something I did not like, that her waiters would explain to me exactly what a dish was if I wasn't positively sure I would like it. She was correcting me in the middle of the restaurant. Is it just me, or does that seem absolutely out of line? The answer to that question doesn't matter. All that matters is that good old Rhonda burned just one more bridge in the small town of Davis. I may sound bitter, to be honest I am. My experience was unnerving, belittling, and will not be relived. And newsflash-word travels fast, far faster by mouth than by Davis wiki. I hope that if you give this restaurant a try, your experience will be far better then mine. And, I hope that Rhonda does not decide to correct me online as she did in the restaurant and that you give some thought to the definition of customer service. —DelilahLee
Rhonda responding, as there are certainly two sides to this "customer service" story: I remember your visit. First, you asked the server to move you, as you said the table you were at "stunk." Not sure what that was about, but your server moved you to another table right away. When you ordered Penne Pasta with Arugula pesto and did not seem familiar with Arugula, your server explained that it was a bit spicy. After serving a perfectly good dish to your table, you sent it back saying you did not like it. The server was not sure how to handle it, so that is why I came to talk with you. You simply stated that you did not like it. I asked if you had eaten arugula before and you said "no." I explained that it was not for everyone, as it can be peppery and some also describe it as a bit bitter. You said you would pay for the dish and I then asked if you would like something else or another cup of soup, as your server told me you had mentioned you liked the soup. You said you had already eaten soup and did not offer up any other suggestions. My question to you is what you expected from me? Was I supposed to throw myself down at your feet and tell you that the pasta did indeed smell like a barn and was bland and terrible (this description itself is a contradiction in terms, as you would expect a barn to have quite a bit of taste (gamy, ripe, pungent, rancid, etc.) Anyhow, were I to order something at a restaurant that I did not like, I would consider it my bad and simply not eat it, order something else, offer it to my husband, etc. I would not have the bad manners to send it back stating I did not like it if there was nothing wrong with it. We are in the customer service business, but I am also a customer on many occasions. Had I been having lunch with you, I would have been embarrassed that you sent a perfectly good dish back just because you did not like it...and now, here you are on the wiki, going off as if you were treated in the worst possible manner imaginable. You poor, poor thing!
2011-03-25 19:09:54 I and four friends went to Monticello for lunch on a Friday and were greeted by Rhonda who found us a table. Rhonda and our server Will were very friendly and answered our questions. The lunch menu was limited and didn't offer a fish entree. Four of us ordered the Five Dot Ranch burger with grilled onions and rosemary potatoes. The other person at our table ordered the Grilled organic chicken breast sandwich. We liked the burgers. They were juicy and very tasty and the rosemary potatoes were well seasoned. We also liked the Fentiman's Curiousity Cola and iced tea. I didn't particularly like the cheese cake dessert but others said the Pots de Creme was very good. I'll try the weekend brunch but probably won't return for lunch because of the limited menu. —nowhereman
Rhonda (tough dame that runs the front of the house) here again! I remember you as well. You and your party were very gracious to wait patiently for a table for five, as we were pretty busy that day. Thank you for not reporting that your lunch took a long time to get out, as this was certainly the case. The well done burger order gets us nearly every time! On seafood, we don't do much seafood here due to sustainability issues. We are doing our homework though and will be offering some sustainable seafood dishes ASAP. We are hoping to serve some sardines, anchovies, other small seafood at the lower end of the food chain, etc. soon. Try us for brunch. We have a pretty extensive menu that you will probably enjoy...no fish though.
2011-03-26 16:29:10 You don't think perhaps "tough dame that runs the front of the house" would be a more appropriate way for someone who operates a rowdy diner or some sort of student-friendly pizza joint with large screen televisions and cheap PBR to refer to themselves? Just strikes me as a bit of the opposite of the vibe I thought the restaurant was trying to give off. —AlexPearson
2011-03-26 21:57:31 Hi Alex,
Actually "tough dame" is just a term of endearment used in fine dining establishments that don't have televisions, have an extensive wine list, serve food prepared with local ingredients, have great coffee, carry artisan beer and loose leaf teas, have excellent staff, etc.! Where's your sense of humor? If you look at some of the comments posted on the wiki, you must realize that a sense of humor is important in this business...and what is up with your not wanting us to be a place where students feel welcome? We have lots of student employees and customers and value their contributions to the community as well as their business. Our customers, regardless of age, tend to value local food and the upscale, but not stuffy atmosphere(ie: having a sense of humor) at our restaurant. BTW What exactly is PBR?
Rhonda the Riveter —RhondaGruska
- PBR is Pabst Blue Ribbon, an American lager from Wisconsin that is now brewed by Miller in the pilsner style. PBR gets its carbohydrates from barley and corn syrup, is light on domestic/Yugoslavian hops, and pale in color. Far more important to the bar scene is its accessible price point: $9/12 pack. —JudithTruman
- Well, between the misinterpretation of my tone and your bizarre defensiveness you seem to have missed my point. Sorry you didn't catch the humor, wry as it may have been. Based on more than a couple of your own comments on this very page, you clearly seem to have no idea how to comport yourself as a business owner, nor as someone who works in the front of house in anything more upscale than a cafeteria. I sincerely hope it doesn't hurt the restaurant, because I DO wish you well. I just hope I don't see Monticello on Kitchen Nightmares at any point. Or if I do, I hope I remember to Tivo it. —AlexPearson
2011-03-27 15:53:39 Comporting yourself as a business owner and responding to people who make ridiculous statements on an anonymous venue, such as the Davis Wiki are two different things. I agree, I should not have written, "you poor, poor baby," as it was stooping to her level, but I read her ridiculous post on a Saturday morning after a crazy busy Friday night. (Yes, I was tired and had not had any coffee yet). I will work with my team of editors in the future before responding to such posts.
Of course, you and Davis Wiki readers must realize that people believe they can treat people who work in the service industry in ways they would never think of treating people in other professions. My colleagues in the food service and other service related industries out there could tell you story after story of abuse at the hands of "customers." As one of our customers mentioned earlier, some people may prefer a different style. That is fine.
However, if you behave in a manner that is rude in our establishment or make ridiculous claims publicly (or privately) I have the right to disagree (responding to your public comments publicly or to you personally)...and please stop dissing people who work in cafeterias.
You clearly have no idea who works in food service, be it highbrow or low. The majority of people in this profession have come up through the ranks of many sundry jobs in the industry and that could certainly include cafeteria, pizza and burger joints, rowdy diners, etc. Like I said, you've got to be tough to be in this business, thus my moniker "tough dame." I recommend folks read "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain. While some of reality of this world is a bit dated, some of it very much remains the same...and perhaps it will lead to less folks ordering well-done burgers and steaks! Of course his recent follow up, "Medium Raw," while not as funny, has some pretty good modern commentary on the business.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-03-27 21:13:43 My 2 cents: It seems to me that alot is getting blown out of proportion here...I do think Rhonda is a way to defensive. If the food is good, just let it speak for itself. Rather than trying to respond to every negative comment, spend time making your restaurant great. There will always be people who are negative or don't like you or the food, but there are many more who feel differently. I would be SO sad to see this business negatively affected and the ownership get a bad reputation like some belive The Mustard Seed has because of their own issues. Just let it go and make excellent food! —jsbmeb
2011-03-28 18:36:01 I really love the philosophy and passion behind the Monticello Farmer's Market stall and restaurant. One thing I noticed when I had dinner there was that unless you already knew about Monticello there was not much to inform you about them. I would love to see something like a brochure or article at the hostess stand, that people could read while they are waiting for a table, that gives them a little more information about what makes Monticello so special. I went here when they were just opening so my apologizes if there is already something like this in place.
Also I would really love to see something like a student discount night or a student special on the menu. I know that the prices reflect the quality and care that goes into creating the amazing food, and I do not argue with them. It would just be nice to see something a little more affordable every now and again so that students could enjoy this amazing cuisine as well. —DanielleC
2011-03-28 19:34:21 @jsbmem Thanks for your 2 cents. I will do my best to refrain from giving a bit of a poke in the eye to the few folks who are clearly making ridiculous claims. It must be the former punk rocker in me to want to slam the poseurs and those who would try to seriously injure people in the mosh pit of the restaurant business.
You are correct that you do see these types of comments about every restaurant. I will take your advice and not respond in kind to snarky folks in the future, unless I get an overwhelming response that people enjoy the "tough dame" responses. There may be service people out there who are thrilled to see someone standing up to the (see I won't even say anything snarky about the people I am referring to). Back of the house stories made Anthony Bourdain famous! Perhaps we need a front of the house venue!?
But seriously, I know the Davis Wiki is well read. Like the proverb "Bad news travels fast," if we are waiting for news about someone, it's probably good if we hear nothing because "bad news" would arrive quickly. Thus, even though we have a good customer base, there are still people who do not know we are here. Even the slammers are doing us the favor of letting people know and perhaps the wiki is peaking their curiosity. Maybe some readers would like to see for themselves if I am really as surly, rude, defensive, etc. as some say, or if the food tastes like a barn and is bland and terrible at the same time, etc. We would be happy to have their business, do our best to dispel any untruths, and turn them into regulars if at all possible.
Regarding your point about the Mustard Seed reviews, there are some really mixed reviews about every restaurant in this town. The bottom line is that if someone someone says everything was terrible and acts as if their experience was some kind of personal attack, their review should be suspect, no? Every restaurateur should be grateful when a credible person lets them know about something they can improve upon, as most customers will never say a word, they will simply not return. I want readers to know that we take constructive criticism seriously. We really did drill out the holes on the salt shakers and have improved in all areas since we opened thanks to feedback we have received.
On that note, we are now ready for our Grand Opening. We invite you to celebrate with us during the entire month of April. We all now know our way around the new space and are getting into the groove. Our draft beers will be in the house (hand picked by a bunch of beer geek staff after hours of laborious beer tasting) in addition to an improved wine list thanks to customer feedback during our Tuesday wine tastings with Susan Leonardi (Wineaux). Spring is in the air and Jim is ordering seeds and preparing to plant up a storm. The asparagus is coming up on Fiddler's Green Farm and even more spring produce is just around the corner. Some new art will be hung any day now. The mic lines are installed and we have an equalizer for live music. The weather is supposed to be fabulous this week, so we plan to set up our booth at Picnic in the Park on Wednesday evening. ...
We really are a happy place with happy people most of the time, even though we work ridiculous hours, must be a bit mad to be in this business, and must sometimes deal with a few (see I won't even say it) people!
A kinder, gentler Rhonda
2011-03-29 20:58:41 Monticello is a wonderful place, a true one of a kind and I am thankful to have it in our town. Their dedication to quality and buying local is superior to any other in Yolo county. But with that I have some advice to the owners.....Just stop responding! Yes, it is true these people are ridiculous and don't understand how much hard work and long hours go into a restaurant but don't give them the satisfaction of seeing you get flustered. Like you say, let the food speak for itself. People only leave feedback when they are super happy or super mad. Hundreds of people have already experienced the joys of what Monticello has to offer without saying a word which means you must be doing something right! It is true in business that we would all love to have our regulars, family and friends be the only ones to come in and keep the bad mouthing rift raft out but unfortunately they do not always pay the bills. I am not saying you should adopt the motto "the customer is always right" and then give away stuff for free but by biting your tongue you eliminate that person from writing something bad when chances are they would have never come back anyway! So just stop responding which is what most unhappy people are hopping for, a little excitement from a boring uneventful life where everything is bad. Just feel sorry for them with out using words that then are misinterpreted. Just be happy in knowing your business is amazing!
on a side note....I have never seen (and I have been in a few times) a customer being reprimanded but I have witnessed an employee getting an ear full. Not sure why but public humiliation is never the way to solve a problem or for that person to learn a lesson. Be thankful you have an amazing staff that knows what "local" truly means and give compliments. It is easy to become stressed but letting yourself become stressed with not solve a stressful situation, it will only make it worse. The situation is what is is and go with it, with a smile on your face and you will be around for many years:)
also! Move your office back into the office not on the dinner floor! I know the old Osaka Sushi had an office and unless you completely remodeled and took it out, that is something better left unseen. Its hard to have a nice meal when you are seated next to a table full of papers and a computer!
Wishing you the best of luck for years to come and hoping that you can get some useful information out of this. —JakeMurry
2011-03-30 01:07:01 To Jake: just curious, do you have work or management experience in the restaurant industry? Is that upon which you offer your advice? —BrianKenyon
2011-04-01 16:17:51 The comment about "tough dame" Rhonda publicly humiliating both customers and staff is enough for me. Everyone it seems, apart from Rhonda, gets only one chance to make mistakes. That several staff have "left" during the soft opening stage is suspicious enough, but I notice that she is still there, and from recent experience, is still making the same mistakes. If she's abusing customers, what are the staff going through? If she worked for me, I'd have replaced her a long time ago on the strength of what I've read and seen.
Look up the word "host" in a dictionary and realize that the word comes from the same root as the word "hospitality".
Yes, the food is decent, yes you have nice wines, but if your hospitality is lacking to the degree I have both seen and heard of, then sooner or later you'll be tarred with the same brush as the Mustard Seed. As your Grand Opening approaches, you might reconsider your attitude, as you no longer have the "soft opening stage" excuse.
2011-04-02 12:35:53 Has anyone heard of the game of telephone: Step 1 Sit in a circle or a row with players a foot or more apart. Step 2 Choose one person to start. He comes up with a phrase or sentence — silly or serious, it doesn't matter. Step 3 He leans over and whispers the phrase in the ear of the person next to him. That person whispers what she heard into the ear of the next player, and that continues around the circle. Step 4 When the last person has whispered the phrase in the ear of the first person, he repeats it out loud. After the laughter dies down, he can tell everyone the original sentence or phrase.
This game appears to have a similar outcome to some posts on the Wiki! If you want the real scoop, firsthand, please join us for brunch, lunch, wine tasting and/or dinner. As I mentioned, our grand opening is this month and we have some exciting and delicious new things to share with you.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
Actually, there's no game of 'telephone', I have seen some of this first hand. - Janey
2011-04-03 16:37:48 Hey everyone,
I just posted our menus for brunch, lunch and dinner on the wiki menu tab.
@DanielleC, we have introduced our appetizers & small plates. We are also offering small salads and you are always welcome to have us bring extra plates so you and friends can share menu items to keep costs down.
@JudithTruman thanks for the PBR definition. I clearly have a long way to go regarding my beer education, however I am happy to report that our beer tastings with staff that informed our beer list have been most informative. There are some great beers out there! You should check out our Mammoth IPA on draft with our Pecorino & toasted almonds with honeycomb. What a delicious flavor combination. —RhondaGruska
2011-04-05 16:54:27 Geez people...I like an owner with a playful personality. This is nothing like Mustard Seed, that owner is just plain mean and offensive. I've been to Monticello's a couple of times and never have had the wait staff cry at my table. Anyways, I think it is refreshing to hear her thoughts and that point is that she is listening:-) —LokiAbbi
2011-04-06 17:50:47 @LokiAbbi Yes. I am listening! As the front of the house partner, my role is to deal with issues that are brought to my attention from customers in person and via the internet, while Chef Tony is managing the kitchen and Farmer Jim is growing great ingredients for us to incorporate into our menus.
Thanks to you, we have not had one more complaint about the salt shakers! There have also been many other constructive criticisms that have informed our business decisions, even from those who took things so personally that they may never return to experience them. It goes without saying that when we opened we were well aware of the fact that we were stressed out running around looking like deer in the headlights, that we had a lot of things to improve, etc. The good news is we survived, are having a great time, and it will only get better as we get some additional experience running a much larger and more complicated operation than we did in Winters.
As for our staff, we didn't advertise that we were hiring and many of them came to us from other food service establishments in town. Many of our customers recognize them. We are like a family, this is our second home, and you are invited for food and drink at our place nearly every day of the week (except for Mondays and during off hours when we are closed and are most likely trying to grab a bite to eat, relax a bit before the next shift and/or get some mind numbing administrative task done).
2011-04-06 21:27:36 I love working here! The food is great and so are the people. —MaryMurphy
2011-04-12 21:39:27 Just finished dinner here and decided to revive my account to write a comment here. As a student, this is more of a upscale restaurant, so don't expect a student-friendly meal. With that out of the way, the restaurant is beautiful inside and the food is delicious. A very relaxed ambiance and prompt/friendly service. A great place to take a date with an excellent selection of wines. Did I mention the interior design is really nice? I need to come here for the weekend brunch, since the menu items sound tasty! —BrandonToo
2011-04-13 21:34:38 Just finished dinner here not 10 minutes ago. The food was pretty solid, based on this initial experience I'd put them just below Tuco's and ahead of Seasons (though Seasons at one point was #1, but they've been less ambitious recently). Unlike a few other diners I didn't have any problems with service, our waitress had a few minor hiccups, but really nothing anything major and her eagerness and professionalism erased any small mistakes. The decor is very nice like others mentioned though I'm not crazy about the mural in the very back of the restaurant, it's a restaurant I'd love to just grab a drink in (speaking of which the Marrs Zinfandel was very nice).
The braised collard greens with shallots and bacon (mustard greens on menu, collard substituted)were my favorite of the night, very confidently prepared, solid balance of flavors, the vegetables cooked just right. I also had the Morrocan stew which was also good, my friend had the meatballs which we agreed was only okay, they were not dry but the incredible denseness didn't allow for really any delicious juice or fats, perhaps they went overboard with the healthiness? The dessert tart was prepared very nicely, the small critique is that the filling was a bit muddles, hard to pick out the individual elements. Overall though, there are very few fine dining places I'd take friends visiting Davis, but Monticello has been added to that list, and more importantly as of now it's a place I would happily return to about once a month (have to think about that bank account!). —AlvinTsao
2011-04-14 15:09:41 Went there for dinner with two friends. I had the pork loin and the others the burger and a salad. The greens and the potatoes were amazing. Unfortunately, the pork loin was so dry. The wait for that was long, but our waitress did check in to tell us the loin was taking longer than expected. The burger was fantastic. We all agreed probably the tastiest burger in town. Overall, it was very good and I am also wanting to catch the brunch. —LokiAbbi
2011-04-15 13:28:45 Hi —AlvinTsao & —LokiAbbi,
Thanks for your feedback and it is good to hear what you enjoyed. Regarding the things that need improvement: @AlvinTsao: For the meatballs, it sounds like we need to perfect our recipe. I will try some with the staff tonight and then we can brainstorm with the kitchen. Five Dot cattle does spend quite a bit of time on the range, so the fat content is lower than commercial beef. Perhaps we could wrap it in bacon ;) @LikiAbbi, in the future, please let us know if the tenderloin is dry, as it should not be. We are serving it again and would be happy to comp you for one that tastes the way it should.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-04-17 11:24:03 I am a server at Monticello and this is a truly excellent place to work. Rhonda and Tony really care about the staff and the quality of food they prepare. I have worked in many different restaurants and never have I felt this good about the food I am serving. I am also a health coach, so I am passionate about nutrient dense foods. Since the food is coming direct from local farms it is retaining it's nutrient content more than something that is being shipped from far away and sitting in cold storage for ages. Sure, we don't have tomatoes on the burgers quite yet, but it is still the best burger I have ever had. Speaking of tomatoes, I can't wait until Jim starts harvesting his multiple varieties of heirlooms from Fiddler's Green this summer.
Is this restaurant perfect? Nope. However, I have yet to eat or work at one that is. This is however the calmest, most caring restaurant I have ever worked for. Do we sometimes get flustered when it is busy? Sure. But I am telling you, the concept that is behind this still new creation is worth the patience. Please keep letting us know how we can better serve you.
We are so fortunate in this Mediterranean climate to have an abundance of year-round fresh produce. I am so excited to keep tasting what comes out of the kitchen as harvest changes through the seasons.
2011-04-22 12:52:18 You are invited to join us for brunch this weekend from 9am to 2pm. We have plenty of room for drop-ins at this time, however, you are welcome to call us for a reservation. We making some of our Meyer Lemon curd that we have sold at the Davis Farmers Market in the past. Pick some up at the restaurant this weekend during brunch hours and be sure to visit Jim's Fiddler's Green produce stand at Farmers Market stand if you are interested in some excellent pickled beets.
2011-04-22 16:25:38 My crazy high expectations for this place (I was so excited when it opened) were mostly met. I went in with a group of friends for lunch and we all essentially ordered different dishes. I had the "Carolina-style pulled Bledsoe pork sandwich with horseradish coleslaw" and it was SO good. Great flavor, and the dish had a perfect blend of texture. Hot sauce that went with both the pulled pork sandwich and burger was surprisingly fragrant (not a word I'd normally use to describe hot sauce, but I thought this one had a whiff of pear; I could be crazy). I only wish the food were served hotter. Amaaazing butter with the starter bread though!
Lemon cake with the goat cheese frosting—TO DIE FOR. Warm apricot walnut dessert thing, kind of a confused mess and too sweet for my taste. Get the lemon cake.
Overall, beautiful restaurant, TOTALLY worth visiting over and over again, since they are seasonal after all. :) Owner Rhonda is fabulous! —EdaChen
2011-04-22 20:37:34 It is a very nice place - I come by every Tuesday for the wine tasting and its a nice relaxed atmosphere, sit at the marvelous bar, chat about food and wine, and you can have a nice little meal right there at the bar, too, when you aren't out for a romantic dinner for two. They have a large selection of wine by the glass, which is awesome when I'm used to seeing 1 wine by the glass (that you can get for 2$ a bottle at a supermarket). There should be a photo of the bar in this page :) —MichaelNielsen
2011-04-29 12:39:54 Wow! The reviews of this restaurant are very polarized. My wife and I were happy to see this restaurant open and decided to try it. Unfortunately, our experience all too closely matched many of the negative reviews on this site. We were ignored for several minutes after entering the restaurant (it was not because everyone was busy; several staff were just standing in a group chatting with each other). When someone finally came to greet us, there was no "hello" but only a fairly rude demand to know if we had a reservation (we did not, but the greeter presumably did not know that and she had no reason to be rude, especially as the restaurant was only 1/3 full and never filled up to more than 1/2 full the entire time we were there). We were then seated at a table where the silverware was set backwards and given menus.
While we were perusing the menus (which leave off all information about the specials and their prices), our waitress came by and said that she'd be back "when I have time" and left. She did finally return to ask what we wanted to order. We had to remind her that she had not told us the specials, which she then did. When we received our food, a burger and a dinner salad, we discovered that the burger—in addition to being no more than 1/2 the size of its bun—was slathered in a spicy spread (not mentioned on the menu) and that the salad was not as described by our waitress. But since no one ever came by to ask how our food was, we made do (though my wife left most of her burger as it was too spicy for her to eat; no one asked us about that either). This is despite the fact that I many, many times during the evening noticed 3-4 staff hanging out behind the bar chatting with one-another. There were plenty of staff around; they were just uninterested in helping customers apparently.
Another waitress ultimately showed up to remove our plates. She asked if we wanted any desserts. As we were still hungry, still trying to be understanding about it being a new restaurant, and really trying to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt, we said "sure". When she asked us what we wanted, we pointed out that no one had given us dessert menus. She said that they don't have menus and told us the choices (though no prices). Assuming that they were priced about like in other restaurants, we selected two. The desserts were underwhelming (e.g., a dried fruit tart in which the whole figs and such were not cut, making it very hard to eat with only a fork and very dry and in need of ice-cream or a sauce). And we were surprised to discover when we got the bill that they were priced about 20% higher than we had expected.
After our visit, I checked the wiki (which I wish I had done first) and discovered that others had already complained about many of the same problems we experienced. Given that, and given that the owners seemed to come up with excuses for their problems rather than solutions, I thought I should write the restaurant and let them know that they still needed to work on these problems. They responded with a thanks for letting us know, we'll do what we can, and try our brunch which is "more on the casual side". As I was not complaining that the service was too formal, that seemed odd, especially as I can't what even more casual service might look like!
I am sure people who love the idea of this restaurant, or who like the owners, will slam me for being unfair as they have others who left negative reviews, and I am sure the owners will post a dozen reasons why they are not to blame for these problems, but when so many people have the same, exact, problems, it might be time for the restaurant to take these complaints seriously and to actually try to solve them rather than give more excuses. Probably too much to ask.
Rhonda here. It is fascinating to me that you are just now posting this message to the Wiki when your one visit to our new restaurant was at the end of February. Yes, you did send me a personal e-mail message and yes, I responded. I have posted the exchange below so readers can see it for themselves. My response is first and your message follows. Once again, we have worked hard to improve areas that were problematic and hope you will give us another try, as it has been two months since your first visit to our place and we really have started to settle in quite nicely. I am not going to "post a dozen reasons....," but I would like to know, why are you posting this review of our place two months after you came in during our soft opening? I don't get it. What is in this for you?
Re: Comments on my recent visit to your restaurant Saturday, February 26, 2011 11:09 AM From: "Monticello Bistro" View contact details To: "Torgny Nilsson" Hi Torgny,
Thanks for the time you took to let us know about your experience at our restaurant. We will do what we can to improve in the areas that were problematic and hope you will give us another try. We do a mean weekend brunch that is more on the casual side as well.
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. -Virginia Woolf-
Rhonda, Tony & Jim Monticello Seasonal Cuisine Restaurant & Catering 630 G Street Davis, CA 95616 (530) 792-8066 monticello-bistro.com
— On Fri, 2/25/11, Torgny Nilsson wrote:
From: Torgny Nilsson
Subject: Comments on my recent visit to your restaurant
Date: Friday, February 25, 2011, 5:01 PM
My wife and I finally had a chance to try your restaurant the other night, after wanting to for some time. But I have to admit that it was a very mixed experience.
We waited quite some time at the reception desk before anyone acknowledged our presence. It was so long that we almost left to go to another restaurant. When someone did finally approach us, it was not a very warm welcome and we were somewhat brusquely asked if we had a reservation even though it was 7:30 on a very rainy Thursday and the restaurant seemed to have a number of empty tables and no one else waiting for one.
We were then seated at a table that was not only unusually small (all the two-person tables seemed small which seemed odd given all the empty space in your restaurant) but also not made up. Though it was quickly made up for us, it was made up in a haphazard manner with forks on the right and the knife on the left and a fairly peremptory delivery of bread (we did not notice the butter in the breadbasket until we finished our meals as no one had pointed it out and it was hidden under a fold of napkin). We also noticed that the pepper grinder on the table (nice touch) was filled in part with pre-ground pepper (not so nice).
While we waited for our server to show up, we perused the menu. The menu was quite unusual. Neither of us had ever seen a menu where virtually all of the entrees were not only unlisted but also not priced. We looked around assuming we had missed a specials board or list, but none was in evidence. So we had to wait for our server to show up again in order to tell us what our options were.
When our server finally showed up (after quite a long time), she only stopped long enough to tell us that she'd be back to help us "when I have time." She then immediately left without giving us a chance to ask what the specials were so we could think about it while she was gone. It would have been so much nicer if she would have said, “I’m sorry but we are very busy tonight and understaffed, if you’ll bear with me I’ll be back as soon as I can.” I don’t think we would have believed it as we throughout the evening saw a fair number of staff standing around behind the bar apparently doing little, but it would have been nicer.
When our server finally returned, she asked us if we were ready to order and waited for us to tell her what we wanted, at which time we had to point out that she had told us what the entree options were. She then rattled them off, most of which seemed a bit pricey for their descriptions. My wife ordered the hamburger and I ordered a Cobb salad which, though it seemed likely to be entree sized given its price, was listed with the appetizers and our server had trouble telling me whether it was an appetizer portion or an entree portion, with her seemingly leaning toward it being an appetizer portion. As I was not all that hungry, I took my chances on the size.
While the Cobb salad turned out to be entree sized and quite good, other than the boring croutons (I would actually have been quite upset if I had listened to our server and ordered it as an appetizer prior to another entree), my wife’s burger was much smaller than its bun, undercooked (she ordered it medium and it came out rare/medium-rare), and was slathered with a very spicy sauce which was not listed on the menu. As my wife does not care much for spicy food, or rare burgers, she thought about returning it, but assumed that we would have to wait some time for a replacement given the slow and haphazard service and decided it was not worth it. But I could tell that she did not enjoy it much as she grimaced several times at the spices and left a fair amount of the burger unfinished.
When a different server came to remove our plates and asked us if we needed anything else, we asked about a dessert menu. It turned out that you don’t have one, but the server told us the options (though not the prices which were a bit higher than many restaurants of your caliber). While the desserts were fine, the dried fruit tart would have benefitted greatly from someone cutting up the whole figs and such in the tart (which made it troublesome to cut with a fork) and from some sauce or whipped cream or ice-cream to counter its dry texture.
We think one of the restaurant owners came to our table toward the end of our meal, but she did not introduce herself and it did not seem the time or place to criticize the meal given that another couple was at the next table and we did not want to color their view of the restaurant.
After our visit, I visited the Davis Wiki to see if our experience was unusual. I quickly discovered that it was not. Our experience seemed to duplicate the experience of a fair number of other visitors to your restaurant, even down to the same problems with being greeted by your hostess, the size of the burger vis-a-vis its bun, the failure to state prices, etc. The idea of using fresh local ingredients with a daily-changing menu is fine, but then you really should post a list of the offerings and prices. The same with the desserts: a simple laser-printed sheet or chalkboard as is done in many, many restaurants would be better than your current menus (or lack of menus). And if you are going to slather a spicy sauce on something, that should be noted somewhere.
I thought about posting this on the Wiki to warn others, as the fact that others have mentioned these problems seem to have mostly resulted in excuses from your restaurant, not apologies and an effort to fix these problems (by the time of our visit at least), but you have not been open long and I think your restaurant could be a nice addition to the town if you get things working right. I don’t want to add to the number of negative reviews on the Wiki when your restaurant is so new and still has potential. That being said, I doubt we will be back, at least until the reviews on the Wiki reveal that you have solved your main problems, but I wish you the best and hope things take a turn for the better. You do have a very nicely decorated space and most of your staff seemed friendly.
2011-04-30 06:39:34 IMO, ungracious for owner to post an email exchange between customer and herself. Makes it seem like she is grasping for moral highground and belittling customers. Who cares if it happened in feb? I think I'm done with this place. Its been ruined for me now by Rhonda's responses to customers on Wiki. —jsbmeb
- A sense of the timeline is pretty important when the post makes reference to the time continuum "there's still problems" - pretty important to note if "still" refers to Feb or May. The "other negative reviews" are dated back to March (which I believe is around the official opening), so failing to mention that this new review is supposed to be dated February does smell like an agenda such as "oh, the fire is dying out, let's throw new firewood on to get it going again". —MichaelNielsen
2011-04-30 22:02:35 Ungracious is not an apt description for someone who says "I thought about posting this on the Wiki to warn others, as the fact that others have mentioned these problems seem to have mostly resulted in excuses from your restaurant, not apologies and an effort to fix these problems (by the time of our visit at least), but you have not been open long and I think your restaurant could be a nice addition to the town if you get things working right."
So what happened between then and now? Did this person come back to see how we were doing? Does it occur to any of the merciless critics on the wiki, who take no quarter, that we employ lots of great folks and have provided a substantial boost to the economy here in Yolo County with our emphasis on local everything? Does it occur to them that our success is important, not only to our us and our employees, but to our local farmers, other businesses in this aging shopping center, the Davis Food Co-op next door, people who live in this neighborhood, the City of Davis, the charitable organizations we support, etc.?
Please think twice about all of the people you may be impacting before you decide to go on a restaurant critic rant(or any other local business rant for that matter). Take a look at some of the economic data about how much small business owners contribute to the economy. Being dissatisfied or telling a business owner you are unhappy is fine and of course, everyone knows your biggest vote is with your feet. Many wiki posts have informed us what we did poorly, in addition to telling us what we did well. That is a fair review.
Some writers seem to take such joy in being harsh and even cruel. I have admitted, over and over again, that we had some serious things to work out in the beginning and that we have certainly paid attention to constructive criticism and are grateful for it. I admitted that I have not always taken the high road when someone pitched what I perceived as a ridiculous, uncalled for fit and would do my best to do so in the future. However, it is important to me that this type of personality understand that we do have boundaries, even though they may equate those who work in customer service with "petty servants." Had Torgny come back, he would have seen that we are now serving whipped cream with our Good Humus Dried Fruit Tart, among some of the other things that he suggested. Are some of these people hoping to be hired as restaurant managers? Are they hoping we will send them a certificate for a free meal? Do they want me to throw myself on a chef's knife because I did not greet them immediately with a warm smile? What gives here?
Obviously, there are people in this community who support us and our local seasonal concept or we would have never made it this far. As for the folks who are just dying to see us fail, please vote with your feet by frequenting other establishments where you feel your expectations are being met and stop giving in to your desire to try to destroy people who served you a burger with sauce that was too spicy, a bun too big, someone who did not greet you in the way you had hoped, a dried fruit tart with whole un-sulfured organic local stone fruit, etc, etc. As for our customers and those who want to be our customers because they care about where their food comes from, we are proud to have your business and will do our very best to serve you something you will truly enjoy. If not, let us know, and we will do our best to make it right. —RhondaGruska
2011-05-03 11:16:23 We had brunch here this past Saturday. The menu made me think "this is going to be my new fav. place in davis!" The hostes - young blond - was super sweet and knew her stuff. The coffee is amazing!!! Food sort of bland -we both had the potato pancakes. The homemade applesauce was good. We sent back the 2 strips of VERY OVER COOKED super small $4.00 bacon. I have faith in Monticello - I think they are just working out the kinks. My greatest concern is Rhonda - maybe she should focus on the restaurant and not this wikki. The best and ONLY way to defend your restaurant is to make your food rock (I was a server for 10 years). Please make this place as good as I know it can be! I can't wait to go back! :) —BridgetDavis
2011-05-05 17:10:08 Mother's day brunch will be so much fun at Monticello! I will be brewing up super yummy coffee and serving our wonderful brunch items. Come check us out :) If your mom is out of town feel free to hangout at the bar and have one of our many craft beers! —MaryMurphy
2011-05-05 21:38:38 This weekend, in addition to being open for brunch, we will also be at the Whole Earth Festival! Monticello, Joy & Taylor's Raw Chocolate [WWW]http://daviswiki.org/Joy_and_Taylor%27s_Raw_Chocolates & Pachamama Coffee [WWW]http://www.pachamama.coop have teamed up to create a new local food booth, dubbed "YoLoCa!
We will be on the east quad across the street from North and South Hall under the cork oak selling Monticello's market salads, veggie sandwiches, adult S'mores with housemade Pachamama coffee marshmallows & graham crackers & Joy & Taylor's chocolate, Terra Firma strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream, & lavender lemonade. Joy & Taylor's Raw Chocolates will be serving frozen organic bananas with chocolate sauce, Terra Firma strawberries with chocolate sauce, chocolate shots, & truffles. Pachamama will serve fresh brewed hot & iced coffee & mochas.
If you are going to the festival, please stop by to say hello and support the first Whole Earth Festival local food booth. If you aren't going to the festival, support our businesses by patronizing Monticello restaurant & Davis Farmers Market Picnic in the Park Food Booth; purchasing Joy & Taylor's Raw Chocolates in the chocolate aisle and/or the living foods section at the Davis Food Co-op; and purchasing Pachamama coffee at the Davis Food Co-op and at their booth at the Davis Farmers Market.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-05-11 18:59:39 We hope everyone enjoyed Whole Earth and thanks for stopping by the first local food booth "YoLoCa" to enjoy Joy & Taylor's Raw Chocolates, Pachamama coffee and Monticello Seasonal Cuisine.
Now it is time to think about graduation! We would be pleased to have you, your family and friends join us at Davis' Farm to Table restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner to celebrate your achievement.
Ciao, Chef Tony, Farmer Jim & Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-05-14 22:22:02 I ate here twice, I also read all the wiki comments and talked to a few well respected Davis community members. The verdict is that this place is going down the tube. Not because the idea isn't a good one, but because the owners are really disagreeable people and cannot help themselves but to be over-the-top rude to their customers. What is the business logic behind that?? I'm not sure. The food is not good enough for the owners to be that horrible to customers and expect anyone in Davis to return.
I would advocate avoiding this restaurant if you, or the people you want to eat with, have any self respect. The food I ordered was bland and uninspired, I could have made everything I ate there at home for a fraction of the price. This restaurant cannot, does not, even try to made good food. I feel bad for people whose only experience with a 'local,seasonal restuant' is Montecello. They will seriously get the wrong idea about what it means to source locally. —BenMorris
2011-05-15 15:09:30 T(ea) is for Teachers is an appreciation tea to honor teachers & support Tech Trek, a summer camp to introduce Jr.high & high school girls to math & science careers. For $10 you can invite a special teacher, or multiple teachers. The fundraiser is Monday, 5/23 from 4-5:30pm at Monticello & is jointly sponsored by AAUW & Prytanean Women's Honor Society.||AAUW Davis (local chapter)|| —RhondaGruska
2011-05-15 18:43:52 My wife and I brought my parents here for brunch today and really enjoyed it. We made reservations for noon, but they weren't really necessary. There were only 3 or 4 other groups when we came in. Our waitress, who seemed to be doubling as the hostess, was extremely cheerful and friendly, and seemed to know the food quite well—something I really like to see at a good restaurant. They were out of several things on the menu. My wife was going to have the Carolina style pulled pork sandwich with horseradish slaw (sounds soooo good!) but they were out. They also didn't have any fruit for the seasonal fruit salad... since not much is in season.
I had the savory cheese strata which had asparagus, leeks, onions, and some other goodies tossed with very fluffy chunks of bread and interspersed with a very tasty, somewhat mild melted cheese. It doesn't come with any sides, but I also ordered a ginger cream scone with artisan preserves (apricot) which was a little smallish, but tasted wonderful. My wife and my dad both had the chicken breast sandwich with caramelized onions. I'm not sure what the sauce on it is, but it was delicious. Again, not huge portions, but excellent food. My mom had a croque madame which looked excellent (I didn't try any). The egg looked perfectly poached, and the bechamel (sorry, accents are a hassle on the laptop) poured over the top looked excellent. All three sandwiches came with country style potatoes which were good, but fairly ordinary.
The coffee was excellent. It's quite strong, which I love, but if you're not a fan of strong coffee, you're probably going to want quite a bit of milk and sugar. It's got a good amount of fine grounds in it from being pressed, and I had decent layer on the bottom of the cup by the time I got down there, almost like Turkish coffee. It's something I like a lot, but if you're not familiar with the style, you may find it slightly off putting. Like the coffee, the tea is served from a French press, which they bring to your table. They had a couple of interesting flavors, and my mom really enjoyed hers... I want to say chamomile lavender? One thing to note: the coffee and tea weren't all that hot. I'm fine with coffee that's not borderline-burn-your-tongue hot, but this came out toward the lower end of the still-drinkable spectrum.
Their beer selection is small but very nice. Lagunitas, Mammoth, and one or two others on tap. We didn't have any, but I'd definitely consider stopping by for a drink at the small bar. The atmosphere is really pleasant. The decor is classy and modest. The only really bold part is the full-wall mural on the back wall, which is quite colorful. It's got a very relaxed, comfortable feel.
All in all, I highly recommend checking this place out. It's fun, friendly, and flavorful. Like most restaurants, I'm sure it'll also continue to improve over the coming months, as they continue to work out the kinks. —TomGarberson
Try stopping by Tuesdays for wine tasting at their bar, it's a wonderful atmosphere, all the employees are very cheerful and nice, and my fiancée loved the place instantly when I took her there. —MichaelNielsen
2011-05-22 22:18:56 I guess I should have read the wiki comments before I tried this restaurant. I certainly would have known what to expect. I dined here Friday night with a girlfriend and had one bad experience after another. From the fod to the service, it was a nightmare. While our server was introducing herself and getting our wine order, the hostess (Rhonda, I assume) interrupted to tell her that we could move to another table. We were perfectly fine where we were; no need to interrupt. We ordered small plates (2) first: the bruschetta and meatballs. The bruschetta was described as having fresh mozzarella and pesto —— no pesto to be found anywhere on the plate. The meatballs were very mediocre and lacked flavor. I ordered the seasonal asparagus salad with a poached egg and my friend ordered the halibut. Mine came and was ice cold. Nothing, especially fresh vegetables and eggs, tastes great that cold. Whenever I have had an egg on a salad it has never been ice cold. Certainly not what I had expected. My friend's halibut was very bland —-no salt or other seasonings whatsoever. When the waitress came by to see how we were doing, we were honest and said that neither of us were happy with our meals. She said she was really sorry and asked is she could bring us each another glass of wine to make up for it. We thought that was a nice gesture and said yes. Soon Rhonda came by and said she heard we weren't satisfied. We reiterated our comments to which she argued with us about the salt on the fish. Then she said "what do you propose I do about that?". Now, in my experiences in finer restaurants, both as a diner and a server, a more appropriate response would have been "I am so sorry. Is there anything else on the menu I can bring you?". Instead, she seemed really put off that we were unhappy and made it our problem. She immediately took our full plates off the table (we might have continued to eat) and brought us our bill. To her credit, she did take our entrees off of the bill but we never did get the other glasses of wine that we were promised. After reading several of the comments on here, and Rhonda's responses, it is clear that she has limited experience dealing with the public in a service business. If she did, she would realize that the customer is always right and one must never argue with the customer. I don't expect this business to be open too much longer unless they drastically change thei customer service attitudes. —JanaGonsalves
5/25/11 Rhonda responds: We were expecting this and considered a preemptive strike, but got too busy. 'Tis true. Jana and Rachel dined with us the other evening. The evening was pleasant and everyone seemed to be having a nice time. We were pretty crowded, so they were seated at a two top, however when a four top became available nearby, I offered it to them as I was bussing the table. They chose not to move, but everything went downhill from there. One of them returned the glass of Fiddlehead Cellars Rose she had ordered telling the server it was, "terrible." I went out to their table where I was also told it was "terrible." I asked her if she would like something else and immediately replaced it, at no charge, for a Toad Hollow Pinot.
Then came the entrees, which they once again told the server were, "terrible." Somehow we were spared their complaints about the appetizers. I came to the table to inquire as to the issue with the food and one said the halibut had no flavor. I let her know that, it is indeed, simply pan fried with salt & pepper and bit my tongue when my brain said, "Why don't you offer her some Frank's Red Hot?! The other said, "The salad was cold, everything was cold, the asparagus, the poached egg was cold..I did not expect that." I once again bit my tongue and politely asked what they would propose. They said they had no proposal. I asked if they would like me to remove their plates and they said, "yes." I walked into the kitchen with their full plates of food and tossed it into our chicken food bin. I then told their server to give them their bill, instructing her not to charge them for the rose or entrees. It is very interesting to read that they "might have continued to eat," the "terrible" food.
I was certainly trying to cut our losses at this point, as these women were clearly on a tear and costing us plenty in wasted food & wine, not to mention spoiling our previously congenial atmosphere. I was hoping they would see that they were comped and leave quickly, as they clearly were having a miserable time. Unfortunately, they stayed on, and continued loudly complaining about everything. Their server told me a table next to them actually started giving them a hard time for ruining their experience.
It was a challenge, but I remained pretty calm and as pleasant as possible, particularly considering the tones of their voices and the smirks on their faces. I was grateful someone else gave them the hard time they deserved, as of course, "The customer is always right (even when they are unhappy, miserable people, looking for as many freebies as they can get and out to torture servers and restaurateurs)." What I really wanted to tell them was, "You returned the wine, you returned the entrees, please do not return." I guess I will say it now.
5/27/11 I agree completely with Rhonda’s comments above. I was the server who attended to Jana and Rachel, and can confirm that we tried our best that night to ensure their experience was wonderful, despite their apparent desire for it to be a bad dinner. Rhonda did not interrupt me in the slightest when she asked to reseat the ladies; she merely mentioned that there was a larger table open when I came over to tell them about the nightly specials. We both wanted to make sure that they were comfortable, but they assured me the smaller table was fine.
The meal started out well, despite the distaste exhibited for one of the wines. Rhonda ensured that both were happy by offering a different wine free of charge, and they enjoyed their appetizers. I must say that I was quite surprised when I came over to check on the two, and found that they had hardly touched their entrees. I eat the asparagus salad almost every day I work, and I absolutely love it! My other customers had also raved about the fish that night, and I had many order it.
I attempted to offer some suggestions-perhaps we could heat the veggies on the salad and poach another egg so that it would be warm, or add some more spice to the fish…but was brusquely turned down. Both women said they could not eat another bite of their meals, so I asked Rhonda if she would like to talk to them, in the hopes that she could suggest something different they may prefer. After they turned her down, I went to write up their bill, and came back to their table to find them loudly commenting on their “terrible” meal. They ended up staying a bit longer to continue their rant, to the end that the table next to them became aggravated. In the end, despite our hardest efforts, it seemed that the two simply did not want to enjoy Monticello as so many others do. I absolutely love this restaurant, from its food to its atmosphere. I hope postings like Jana’s will not turn others away, because this is definitely a restaurant worth coming to! -Kelsey Long
2011-05-23 19:22:59 Monticello needs to replace, or cover, the carrots with the celery - more cello. —BruceHansen
The carrots do sometimes cause confusion. Some people thought they were "t's" and not "l's." Montecitto! We are attached to them though, and while celery is a great ingredient, it really is not a standout on its own. A good carrot however, such as the Nantes that Jim grows...amazing!
2011-05-25 00:01:25 Just had dinner here tonight. My first time eating here. Had their food before, but only through Farmers Market. Our little dinner party ordered: 2 burgers w/ rosemary pot, 1 halibut special w/ asparagus, and a huge dinner salad w/ chicken, 2 lavender lemonade drinks, 2 hot camomile lavender teas, 1 decaf coffee, 1 chocolate torte, 1 rosemary lemon curd cake w/ goat cheese frosting. I dine out often in Davis as well as SF. I will say that I will most certainly come back, again and again. The ambiance is wonderful, our server was very friendly, and we were greeted warmly at the front. I remembered the owner (Rhonda) from Farmers Market. I like her! So, regarding our food, everyone REALLY dug the food! My burger was fantastic! Even my son, who is THE PICKIEST eater ever LOVED his burger, and my mother ate every last bit of her salad. I only wished that I did not share my burger with my daughter, who consumed every last morsel of her halibut. Please note to all newbies. We are lucky to have Monticello Seasonal Cuisine open in Davis. Frequent this place as it is a GEM in this small little town. Please protect it with patronizing often. I will.
ps: I think the location is spot on! Right next to The Co-op!? How cool is that?? ;-) —LisaPost
2011-05-27 17:45:11 RhondaGruska, have you ever seen Fawlty Towers? Because I think maybe you should watch it. You seem to belong to the Basil Fawlty school of customer service — people who don't agree with you are idiots.
Your behavior here smears your restaurant. I doubt I'm alone in deciding not to spend any money at Monticello based on what I've read here. It's a shame, too, because food-wise, I'm pretty much your target audience. I choose not to patronize Monticello, however, because I don't like worrying that if I make a reasonable, well-founded complaint or request in your restaurant, I'll be shamed either immediately in public, or post facto on the DavisWiki. A dinner out isn't worth that for me. The risk of losing a client because of poor service isn't worth that for me. You won't be getting money from me or my business. "Shop locally" goes both ways, unfortunately — support local businesses that bring something positive to the community, and withhold support from businesses that need improvement.
I hope you look back on your comments here someday and see the negative light in which they paint Monticello. —MupDup
2011-05-27 23:14:38 I love Fawtly Towers! John Cleese is of course as funny as can be as Basil Fawlty. Of course, he does have the advantage of being male, very tall, and having an English accent. I have found that neither bending over backward to please or employing humor works with folks who are insistent on having a bad time. Perhaps I should try a silly walk.? In the end, they actually cost us more money and energy than if they never walked in the door in the first place. —RhondaGruska
2011-05-28 18:39:48 I can't help but ask, but what's wrong with the people of Davis? While it's great to see some people love this place, geez it saddens me that everyone else that visits are just out to have a bad time and are such sourpusses. Come on people. [note: this comment was meant as satire] —EdWins
I don't believe people who are complaining about Monticello are out to have a bad time. I had a horrible experience and I've never in my life sent anything back or made a scene at a place of business. Those of us that believe Rhonda and this restaurant are negative forces in the community are not in general 'complainers'. As for "what is wrong with the people of Davis?"... how about we would just like some good food at a friendly restaurant, the concept isn't outlandish. —BenMorris
2011-05-29 16:15:52 We have a child at UC Davis and when we visit, Monticello has been one of our favorite destinations. The food is amazingly fresh and the seasonal concept is refreshing. We have had both brunch and dinner. The waitress we had most recently was very sweet and helpful. We were pleased with information about selections on the menu and the wines that complimented our choices. My husband and I enjoyed the experience at Monticello and we will be back! Yum!! —JoanneKelly
2011-05-29 23:33:43 "I have found that neither bending over backward to please or employing humor works with folks who are insistent on having a bad time.... In the end, they actually cost us more money and energy than if they never walked in the door in the first place."
I believe you will find that what will cost you most in the end is assuming YOU best understand what folks want, or are "insistent" upon. Maybe try listening, instead of prescribing? —MupDup
2011-05-30 19:47:40 I just read all the comments on wiki after being told about it by friends. Until now, I've been very supportive of Monticello and have had good experiences but after reading Rhonda's responses to some of the complaints, I'm beyond appalled at how petulant, defensive, unprofessional and downright rude she is. As someone who worked in catering for 10 years (both food prep and service), I couldn't believe what I was reading! It's completely put me off ever going to Monticello again. —stacyhardy
"2011-06-01 08:18:43" "We were expecting this and considered a preemptive strike, but got too busy." — The idea that a restauranteur (or any business owner / operator, for that matter) would get annoyed at a difficult customer is not really that surprising, I hope. For one to actually consider trying to shame a difficult customer in a public setting is pretty childish, but the fact that Rhonda decided to tell everyone that she considered getting the first word in on how unreasonable some of her customers can be, but that she ended up deciding against it — not because it is a stupid and childish thing to do, but because they were too busy... well, that's just insane. I'm reasonably confident that nearly everyone who has offered comments here, positive and negative alike, is pretty familiar with the idea of dining out, and many have considerable experience in the Food Service Industry (not the Take It Or Leave It Restaurant Biz) and so may have some rather old fashioned ideas about what they should expect from a host.
MupDup and BenMorris are perfectly right to conclude that it may not be worth the anticipated unpleasantness to patronize Monticello. Rhonda's been doing enough patronizing to keep the restaurant open for another fifty years, anyway. I'm starting to feel bad for Jim, to be honest. —alexpearson
2011-06-01 13:59:32 Hi Alex,
It was a joke! For goodness sakes! We knew they were difficult, we tried our best to please them, we comped their food and wine...why go to the Wiki to complain after all of that?
So what wiki writers, such as yourself are trying to say is that, as a business owner, my input, perspective, and responses to posts are not welcome unless I am telling you something that backs up the adage that, "the customer is always right." Perhaps there are people out there who need to be reminded that when they behave badly, they will not be welcomed back to an establishment, as no amount of money can make up for having people try to take advantage of you because you happen to work in the service industry. In reality, most of our wiki reviews are very good, and are getting better, particularly now that we have our act together. Many of them also helped us to get our act together :) which is why I read the wiki in the first place. Some business owners have told me they just can't take reading the wiki. Like I said, I am pretty tough, and getting tougher every day ;)
Regarding your comment about feeling sorry for Jim, perhaps you would be willing to help him out on the farm, where every day something new is breaking down or the weather is absolutely crazy and unpredictable. Whenever we are really tired and worn out from working at the restaurant, we always say to ourselves, "At least we aren't farmers." Jim is an incredible person, farmer and business partner. He was here the night when our most recent ungracious guests had dinner and thank goodness he was in the kitchen with Tony, as he certainly gets enough abuse trying to keep the farm afloat.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-06-01 14:21:25 Sigh. This is the last time I am going to ever comment on this page. I agree with Alexpearson and stacyhardy. Its great that management at Monticello is so involved on the wiki and I believe that if more Davis business owners were involved with wiki content it would be great. That being said, I think what people are trying to say is that the vibe Rhonda gives this page puts some people off from patronizing Monticello. I feel that if she wants to be so involved, she should just thank customers for their good comments, ignore the negative and consider suggestions and make your restaurant the best it can be. Prove the negative comments wrong with the quality of your food and service not by making comments on the wiki. I know all this is my opinion and do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I've wanted to say this for a while. Thanks! —jsbmeb
2011-06-02 11:14:29 My 2 cents - a few of you stated you wouldn't go here, but keep posting telling Rhonda you know more about running restaurants than she does, etc. IMO she does have the right to provide her half of the story if she wants - and clearly she does want to and has stated as much, as well as behave as she thinks is appropriate - she has stated she disagrees with some of the advice given, there is no need to keep barraging her about it. And as I see it, the ones who repeatedly post may be overshadowing the other opinions out there, please just say your piece once and stop, unless you have some new (relevant) info to share. That said, I'll take my own advice, say my piece and stop.
For my own review, I'm an occasional customer and I've always had good service. The servers and Rhonda have always been friendly and polite. I came in during their soft opening, and Rhonda personally introduced herself and thanked my table for coming, which I thought was nice. They do seem to be continuously improving every time I come in - upgraded menus, specials posted outside - they do listen to advice! I very much support the concept of Monticello and hope they do well here in Davis! —Ravyn
2011-06-04 13:21:23 Follow us on Twitter @MonticelloSC and on Facebook at Monticello Seasonal Cuisine Restaurant. —RhondaGruska
2011-06-09 13:26:27 Join us on Fathers Day, Sunday 6/19 for our Lagunitas Beer Dinner. 5 beers, 5 courses, $50 at 5pm. —RhondaGruska
2011-06-14 10:50:01 Took the in-laws to brunch on Saturday. They had tried the restaurant when it first opened and were hesitant to go back. But, they agreed. We had a great meal and they were thoroughly pleased. Two of us had the corn beef hash. Really good. My mother-in-law had the Croque Madame. She loved it. My father-in-law had the walnut french toast with the homemade carmel sauce. Soooo good. Sweet, but good. We also had the ginger cream scones another hit at the table.
All in all a great experience and now they said they will go back and try it again for lunch or dinner. The service was great as well. But, we were among only three tables. I hope more people find out about this brunch. It is very unique and definitely worth every penny. —LokiAbbi
2011-06-15 20:48:30 My experience with this place is the food is really great. The service was lacking. I have experienced the condescending attitude. What you have to watch out for is the desserts. I have been there twice and both times although the meal was quite good, the 8 dollar desserts are not as fresh as they claim. They are absolutely not worth $8.00. One of my desserts had sour cream instead of whipped cream. The others were not fresh at all. Just plain gross! I mean really for $8.00 I expect it to come right out of the oven right on to my plate. In summation food good desserts and service (attitude) be aware. —Sherri
2011-06-15 22:29:56 Okay! The Father's Day Beer Dinner Menu is on the website and on the wiki. Please join us for great food and great beer on Sunday, June 19th at 5pm. 5 beers, 5 Prix-Fixe courses, 50 dollars. http://www.monticellocuisine.com
I am so sorry about that. One of our cooks prepared some housemade Creme Fraiche today for the Cherry Gallete, as he thought it would be a nice accompaniment. It is not to everyone's taste and the menu says that gallete is served with whipped cream. Did you let anyone know so we could make it with whipped cream, as advertised? We clearly owe you another piece with whipped cream. I would also like to know more about the issues with your service. This had to have been sometime today, as it is the first time we have served creme fraiche with one of our desserts. Was this lunch or dinner? What made you feel you were getting attitude? Please feel free to write me personally @[email protected] if you don't want to respond here.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-06-17 12:09:43 I had lunch here last week. It was delicious! The portions are huge. The restaurant it self is beautiful.
2011-06-17 12:37:56 I find it disconcerting that every time someone makes a not extremely favorable comment, Rhonda feels the need to make an excuse and somehow turn it around and blame the customer. There is no need for the client to inform the staff on how the menu reads and how it should or is made. That is why we come to your establishment, to be served, and in Sherri's case, served what was ordered.
That said, my family enjoyed our visit to your restaurant on their last day of school. Your staff was nice enough to split a pasta dish for my boys (which they enjoyed), and my wife found her fish excellently prepared. I ordered the lamb chops and found it quite juicy, yet a little lacking on overall flavor. Perhaps a bit more seasoning. The side dishes were good once I added a bit of salt and pepper. The staff was quite helpful considering it was graduation weekend. We look forward to returning for a well prepared meal, but perhaps you should just let comments go and not feel the need to make excuses. —Aaron.Curtin
- I think Rhonda's comments are interesting. It's not often you're allowed a candid sightseeing stroll inside a restaurant owner's mind. Let the chips or salt or pepper fall where they may —RaoulDuke
- It is not true that they cannot stand for criticism. I made a comment about a dish and the chef came out and welcomed my remark. Probably, the difference was that I was civil in my criticism. —MichaelNielsen
2011-06-17 20:30:57 Your point is taken. I am glad you enjoyed your meal and we look forward to seeing you again. —RhondaGruska
2011-06-22 09:38:52 What is this Lagunitas beer dinner - the link is broken —MichaelNielsen
2011-06-22 19:30:03 Hi Michael,
We put together a Prix-Fixe Lagunitas Beer Tasting menu for Father's Day. Thanks for the reminder to remove the link. We plan to do other beer dinners in the future. Of course, you don't have to wait for a beer dinner to join us for some great craft beer and dinner. Ciao, —RhondaGruska
"2011-06-30 12:06:05" Hi Rhonda, I'm just curious, is Monticello Seasonal Cuisine named for the Dam out by Winters (where your business originated), or the town now drowned under Lake Berryessa behind the dam? Thanks in advance! —RaoulDuke
2011-06-30 19:57:55 Hi RaoulDuke,
Thanks for asking. Some people aren't sure if it is Jefferson's Monticello or the local Monticello. Our name comes from the former agricultural and ranching town of Monticello that was flooded when they built the Monticello Damn, creating Lake Berryessa. The SF Moma had an exhibit of photographs of the town taken by Pirkle Jones and Dorothea Lang that can be viewed at SFMOMA http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artists/5138/artwork Some locals are familiar with the town's history and several have told us they actually worked on the damn project, had relatives there, or lived there themselves. One of our Winters friends told us if we wanted to create an association with the dam, our tag line could be "Monticello, a dam good restaurant." Thanks again for helping us explain the local significance of our name.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-07-02 08:46:35 Very informative Rhonda, thanks! So sad, though, isn't it? I mean the destruction associated with progress sometimes: now the village of Monticello sleeps with the fishes... —RaoulDuke
2011-07-05 07:44:14 Watch out! Crazy Danes are abound... Anyone had the lamb? —MichaelNielsen
I did :) And I can totally recommend it!
2011-07-07 15:38:13 Hi again RaoulDuke,
Your comment is similar to Pirkle Jones' and Dorothea Lange's in 1960 when they were photographing the Death of a Valley. They had the following to say about the experience:
The development, and control of water has become California's biggest problem. The New California is coming in with a roar and the new people are bringing with them the greatest population increase ever witnessed in the history of the United States. Everywhere, farms and ranches are being torn up and made over into tract sites; orchards are being converted into industrial sites.
[Overheard in a roadside hamburger stand, a construction worker speaking: 'Dammit, it's getting so a person can't stand still in one of these here fields without you getting mowed down, raked up, or painted.']
Demands for more water caused the death of the Berryessa Valley. It dissappeared 125 feet deep behind a dam in order to store water for irrigation in the bigger valleys below and to provide industrial water for the expanding cities.
The accompanying set of pictures deals with this episode. In it there are certain overtones with which we are also concerned. They have to do with changing values. The old life in this small valley was part of the California legend. We attempted to reveal this, and in addition, to lightly remind our viewers of the price of progress.
2011-07-08 13:18:19 Hey RhondaGruska, Thanks for taking the time to research and post these very poignant words. You'll note my comment was in the present tense: "now the village of Monticello sleeps with the fishes.." Lake Berryessa is to this day a watery grave for the hopes and aspirations of the people of Monticello. Monticello Dam is a monument to the power of the State to take individual homeowners' property and use it as it sees fit—namely to enable the making over of farms, ranches and villages into sprawling tract home subdivision sites. The State's power of eminent domain is truly to be feared. — —RaoulDuke
2011-07-09 14:23:23 Hi RaoulDuke,
It sounds like we should start a wiki page about the town of Monticello, as there are only some brief references to it in regards to the Monticello Damn. UC Davis has some archival photos and there is actually a Monticello museum that I read about in the Davis Enterprise. Some customers said they were going to visit it. The Vacaville Museum hosted an exhibit of some of the photos of Monticello a while back as well. We could certainly put together a decent page that could serve as a reminder about how an agricultural town and land, open space, wildlife habitat, etc. can be there one day and gone the next, all in the name of "progress."
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
- Hey, Rhonda... anybody can make a new entry. Just click here, choose "create this page" and start typing! ⁓ʝ⍵
- Rhonda, You are definitely the most appropriate person to "create a page" on how "progress," through the exercise of eminent domain, trumps individual property rights. —RaoulDuke
2011-07-12 16:30:51 Wow, love the new additions to the menu (7/9/11). This is what I love about Monticello's...seasonal, fresh and inventive. Will have to make it there soon. —LokiAbbi
- I can recommend the flatiron steak :) —MichaelNielsen
"2011-07-17 08:16:27" The new sign looks fantastic! —AlexPearson
- Is that the new sign in the photo above? —RaoulDuke
2011-07-17 10:56:16 I'm about as target-audience as Monticello could hope for in a guest, and my impression (after somehow eating two meeting-meals here in the last two weeks, one lunch and one dinner) is that this place is completely meh on all levels: meh food, meh server interactions, meh ambiance, all dressed up (and significantly overprices) as Davis-brand self-love. Someone I had one of those two recent meals with commented that eating here was like eating everyday food cooked in the home of almost anyone who shops at the co-op and pretending it was restaurant fare, and I had to agree, at both meals. Tucos and Osteria (and maybe Seasons on a good day) remain the only local spots that get it in a way - that truly excellent restaurant experiences can happen when everyone concentrates on their actual offerings rather than on the degree to which they represent something about our little town. —calvin2
- So you are basically saying the succeeded in making high quality local California cuisine? As for being as good as homemade, that's also a good compliment, as most of time when I go to restaurants I find myself wishing I was eating my own food at home. Same reason I like Let Them Eat Cake and Haagen Dazs- it's as good as homemade, rather than "industrial"! :) As for the server interaction, my fiancee said it better than I can: It's almost scary how happy, smiling and kind everyone are, back home (in EU) everyone has a bad attitude that they have to work, cos they'd rather do something else. And if you take the time to "interact" with teh staff, you will find that they love working there, it's not just an act. —MichaelNielsen
2011-07-17 16:10:24 @ RaoulDuke, We really do need to get a picture of our new sign, but every time we get our there to take one, there is a shadow from the light that cuts off the top of the carrots. This is on our to do list.
I took a few pics today - I'll check how they turned out after doing some work at the lab. -MichaelNielsen
- * There, I hope you like it :)
@Michael, we are really going to miss you and if we ever get to take another European vacation, we will have to come and visit you in Italy. We really hope that you and Rita decide to take your honeymoon in CA so you can make it to the Sequoia National Park (and visit us again of course).
We are very pleased, that in addition to our local following, so many Europeans are finding us and becoming regulars during their stay in Davis. Interestingly, when I asked a large group of Italians who came for a party before they headed back to Italy how they found out about us, they said they found us on the wiki ;)
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
- @Rhonda: Looks like Michael wins the race to take an up-to-date photo. Congratulations, Michael. No shadow from the light, in your photo. —RaoulDuke
Thanks Michael! Thanks for the prompting RaoulDuke. Where would we be without our friends to help whip us into shape? Rhonda
- @Rhonda: When you get into shape...you'll win races! —RaoulDuke
2011-07-19 10:25:33 Can you add more about the Tuesday night wine tastings? Prices, options, small bite options? Thank you. —LokiAbbi
2011-07-20 20:59:04 @LokiAbbi,
See additional details above. Regarding the appetizer selections, we have some standards on the menu and then some interesting seasonal offerings such as, Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Fried Green Tomatoes with Firehouse Smoked Cheddar, etc. We are making some seasoned flat-bread with yogurt cheese for Happy Hour tomorrow and will make some housemade caramel corn too.
Ciao, Rhonda —RhondaGruska
2011-07-27 18:20:40 Having read MichaelNielsen's response to Calvin2, I have this to say: when I go out to eat (and pay high "fine dining" prices) I do expect to get something better than I can cook at home. I think that you totally missed the point, Michael. —JaneyLamont
- We are not talking about one of those "Michelin starred" 200-300$ per person excl. wine places here. And even there I wouldn't expect to get something "better" than I can make myself, but just something very inventive (like the 300$ place around here where I live where they serve food with leather strips in it). I went to French Laundry in Napa because everyone was raving about it and laughed, because they cook the same way I do, so it was exactly like eating at home. At Monticello I got something different than I ever cooked myself, which to me is why I go out to eat, and for the location/atmosphere itself. And I expect to get what Californians cook at a CA restaurant, just like I expect to get what the Chinese cook at a Chinese restaurant, and what the Italians cook at an Italian restaurant (and usually they fail at providing that!). So in summary: Location/atmosphere: Top notch! Food: CA cuisine, made with top notch ingredients! Different from my cooking: Yep! Price: medium, cos its good ingredients! Wines: WOOHOO they got Sequoia Grove Cab Sauv!! —MichaelNielsen
2011-08-11 14:52:17 @Teresa, We are pleased to hear you had a nice anniversary at Monticello. We look forward to having you again.
We hope everyone will join us on Friday 8/12 for a Bohemian evening of art, music, food and drink. Monticello is participating in the 2nd Friday Art About. Several of Alejandro Rubio's pieces will be on display and the artist will be in residence from about 6:30pm until 9pm. In addition, Bob Wren, will be providing us with another evening of fabulous live music. We hope you can make it. —RhondaGruska
2011-08-25 16:14:16 Great idea, very poor execution. Food is bland and boring. Service is mediocre. Location is great, wish it was still an OK sushi place. —ACA
2011-09-12 13:36:31 Join us on 9/24 for our Monticello & Fiddlers Green Farm to Table Harvest Party. The party starts at 5:30pm and goes until..... we're not sure yet! A special selection of Mammoth beers to pair with our Fiddlers Green Harvest Party menu, including a surprise from Bledsoe Pork...Wine tasting with Davis Enterprise Wine Columnist Susan Leonardi & musical accompaniment by Bob Wren from 5:30-7:30, followed by The Souterrain, followed by.....more fun to come. —RhondaGruska
2011-10-04 21:13:03 I have just enjoyed a wonderful meal at Monticello. I had 2 glasses of Cava and 2 appetizers. I had a great experience. The food was awesome the Spanish Cava was delicious! I ordered the cheese cake to go. It was fabulous! —Sherri
2011-10-08 20:13:41 I had the salad at the Farmer's Market. It was very good. —Mbrowne
2011-10-26 10:59:01 Went there last night for the wine tasting and dinner. The wine tasting was great. There was a flight of four with Wine Columnist Susan there to explain and discuss the different wines. I really enjoyed the wine and the discussion as did my friend. We then had dinner. The brick chicken which was to die for, so flavorful and moist and the mushroom pasta. The pasta was great as well, I loved the fact the mushrooms were cut to blend in with the pasta. Our server John was so good to, just made the night extra special. —LokiAbbi
2011-12-05 20:14:46 Amazing organic eatery. Went there with my husband on my birthday. Sadly, I couldn't eat very much of the delicious food (I know it's delicious because we have been a couple times before), because I was 9 weeks pregnant. Rhonda was so sweet, bringing me candied ginger to try to abate the nausea. My husband ate most of my dish which was torture. (Love him but he must take me back after the baby is out so I can enjoy the good food, service, and wine!) Rhonda even offered dessert that would be appetizing to most. I ate it when I got home. It was the lemon mousse SOOO GOOD. Hope this place only gets more recognition for the quality. —jenb
2012-02-04 21:50:10 Possibly the worst dining experience I have ever had.
We came for dinner on a Saturday night. The restaurant was at about 70% capacity. We ordered two entrees and a side and then proceeded to wait about 40min for our food, with no updates from the server. The server finally told us that our food was about to come out, which it did about 5min later. At that point we mentioned our disappointment with the wait to the server; she was apologetic and said she'd send over the manager.
The manager came over and was immediately confrontational. When my wife explained the situation, the manager simply stated that the restaurant was very busy (although it was only at 70% capacity) and that orders were taking a long time to come out. At that point I stated that it would be good for them to mention the wait times up front so that diners could set their expectations. She replied that there was no way for her at the front of the house to know how long food would take to come out from the back of the house. (!) I repeated this back to her to make sure I heard right, and she confirmed it.
Let me repeat that: According to their manager, their front of the house (including all servers and the manager) have no idea how the kitchen is doing and therefore cannot tell you how long it will take food to come out.
The main thing was her very confrontational and hostile attitude. We are generally very nice people who try to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm not used to having anyone working at a restaurant be so openly hostile to me. It was very off-putting and it ruined the whole dinner as a result. The server checked in us afterwards and again was very nice - she tried to comp us a dessert but at that point we weren't interested. (I still left a good tip as I don't believe in punishing the waitstaff for the manager's bad behavior.)
I would not recommend that anyone dine here. It's one thing if someone makes a mistake one night - it happens to everyone. However, if the manager of the restaurant is immediately hostile to legitimate complaints, that's a big problem.
(Note: this review was also posted on Yelp) —KALee
Perhaps the Kitchen staff and front of the house people weren't getting along that night? A little behind-the-scenes drama? Hopefully, the lack of communication was an aberration. —RaoulDuke
- Maybe the lack of communication was an aberration, but I think many would agree that Rhonda's hostile attitude is not. -Megan
**Hi RaoulDuke. It's been a while. We just celebrated one year in business and noticed things had been calm on the Wiki for such a long time!
Yes, there was some behind the scenes kitchen drama that evening...equipment failure as a matter of fact. Of course, I thought I was simply being honest, not hostile, when I said we really could not have told them what the wait times were, as the tickets were lined up from here to there. The server and I both apologized for the wait and it was my idea to have the server offer them dessert. Perhaps they had something else in mind? Unfortunately, they did not order any starters, which could have helped them out if they had come in really hungry. I also found out from the server that she did not take them any bread, which might have helped to mitigate the situation a bit. It won't happen again (the bread part anyway).
Regarding behind-the-scenes drama, here is an interesting article about restaurant culture that recently appeared in "New York Magazine" that wiki readers, such as yourself, might enjoy. ["http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/insiders/waiter-2012/']
2012-02-05 22:32:39 I understand that equipment failures and other mishaps occur, but our main problem was our interaction with the manager (whom I'm inferrring is Rhonda.)
It was never mentioned to us that the kitchen was having unusual problems. Rhonda was not apologetic about it - she was very confrontational and it was clear from her tone and language that she wanted to argue with us about whether or not we were being treated acceptably; she was not at all concerned with how we were feeling about our evening at the restaurant. From the above reply, I'm not sure Rhonda understands how the experience was for us, so I have little hope for things improving. We will be advising all of our friends and classmates to stay away. —KALee
2012-02-06 12:06:15 KALee, you were clearly at fault for not ordering an appetizer. You will surely not make the same mistake again if you have a problem with waiting 45 minutes for your food? I mean, come on!
[/pure unbridled sarcasm] [/still not going to spend my money here] —AJThompson
2012-02-18 19:13:57 The most simple way to describe Monticello is bland overpriced food. I had the chicken and onion rings- the chicken was bland and the texture was off, not the high quality meat that I expected (and paid for). The onion rings were extremely greasy and lacked anything special since they were priced at $7. Now, that was the high point of my review... the restaurant is new and was completely empty for about 95% of us dining there, and the manager did absolutely nothing to earn our business. Instead she stood, rewashing unused wine glasses, never did she come by to ask how our meal is, how our evening is going, now I would never expect this, however with a restaurant that is obviously lacking customers I would think they would pull out all the stops to win our business, Davis is a small town, one bad review rings a bell that is heard far and wide. There is no need to repeat all the issues since they have been commented about over and over and over again and I'd rather not have a public lashing for voicing my own opinion about my experience. But I will not be going back there and will never suggest this restaurant to friends, customers, or family. I'll end on this note, I am from Winters and ashamed she uses our name so distastefully and I did find someone who enjoyed the bland chicken- my precious two dogs... however they also willing to eat out of the trash, so I'm not sure how much of a compliment that is.... —alexandrahenry
-alexandra-You are clearly pretty bent out of shape that you were unable to game the Groupon Rules for all Merchants' Promotional Vouchers Purchased through Groupon. Regarding my polishing the wine glasses, Davis' hard water & 24 hour lipstick take some effort to remove. Someone had to do it, so why not me? Rhonda
-Rhonda- Actually, what is ironic is that it wasn't Alex's Groupon. It wasn't even Alex that paid the bill. Alex was my guest that evening. As I told you, I had made a reservation the week before (that I could not make) where I explicitly stated I had a Groupon. You had mentioned that the Groupon could be used for its face value, similar to a gift certificate, though the words 'prix fixe' were never mentioned in the conversation. The following week, when I DID come in, I could say that dinner was fine. The food was okay (I wasn't as disappointed as Alex was; to be fair, though, my gnocchi was much better than her chicken), and my server was quite nice. At the end of the meal, when I mentioned I had a Groupon, she very politely explained to me that I could only use my Groupon on a prix fixe. I explained to her my misunderstanding, and though I was disappointed, I paid the tab, because I don't believe in taking out miscommunication on the server. What was truly apalling was your attitude. As Alex and I walked out the door, you actually STOPPED us (though we had not said one word to you) and explained how we were wrong. You told us that this was what your customers in Winters demanded (though what relevance that had to the Groupon, I am not quite sure), and that you were the one who had taken my reservation before and you were sure you had explained it to me. To be honest, I was so flabbergasted at your rudeness that I even explained to YOU that maybe I had misunderstood. You continued to go on and on about how, although some restaurants do take it as a 'gift certificate' of sorts, the Groupon explicitly says you could only use it for the promotional prix fixe (I would be happy to show you that it does not). Had you not felt the need to go out of your way to tell me how wrong I was, I may have come back. I was on the fence about coming back and using my Groupon for the sole purpose of spending ANOTHER $50. But I am a young schoolteacher, and I'm not big on wasting money needlessly. However, I will say that, having had this experience, I would rather throw that money away then have to come back and suffer through a mediocre dinner and a chastising from the owner of said mediocre restaurant. —MeghanMaguire
Meghan-My comment about Winters was that we served prix-fixe dinners there our first year and people liked it a lot, so we did it as a special offer with a Groupon. I stopped you to encourage you to come back and take advantage of the prix-fixe in the future where we would apply the face value of the expired Groupon toward your meal. Our Groupon explicitly stated what you were buying. The Groupon rules state that you must use the Groupon for the promotion offered, not for whatever you want. In addition, you are supposed to present your Groupon on arrival and you did not do so, but instead tried to pay for the meal you had already finished (not a Chef's Choice prix-fixe) when your server brought you the check. Like I said, it is unfortunate that people try to game the system and/or get angry at us when they are the ones who made a purchase from someone other than us and did not take the time to pay attention to what they were buying. Please folks, read the deal and make sure you clearly understand the rules before you buy a Groupon so you don't throw away your money and/or take your anger out on a business because you failed to use it prior to the expiration date and now want to try change the offer to suit yourself. Rhonda
2012-02-27 15:22:55 Wow. After all this time I would have thought that Rhonda would have learned to make fewer comments. You are not doing yourself any favors by trying to teach the readers how to properly act when they go to your restaurant. There are always going to be bad comments from disgruntled people but when there seem to be as many negative comments as positive ones, where the owner, for all intents and purposes, corroborates these accounts, it’s a bad sign. Yelp has your thirty day moving average at below three stars and you have a 54% like rating on Urbanspoon. This is in contrast to say a place like Cindy’s which is trending at four stars and an 86% like rating. There are a lot of people who want to see this restaurant succeed but you need to think about turning your energy towards listening and learning rather than correcting others. There are a number of decent places to eat in Davis, contrary to what’s been quoted as having been the opinion of one Davis restaurant owner. The bottom line seems to be that many people have had food they felt was overpriced and/or not well prepared. Even if this was only a quarter of the customers that would be bad but when it’s reaching nearly half? That is a sign that some changes need to be made, and not by the customers. —pedalpower
- pedalpower, You're beating a dead horse. A few people, including myself, have mentioned this to Rhonda through our comments on the wiki and it hasn't helped. It's too bad, this place has a lot of potential. —jsbmeb
@jsmeb, I thought you weren't going to comment again...although you have made it clear that you are really just trying to save me from myself. It reminds me of the English teacher who kept me after class in high school to tell me that I really needed to stop expressing an opinion so I would not intimidate boys and use my looks to my advantage, blah, blah, blah!
Previous post from jsmeb 2011-06-01 14:21:25 Sigh. This is the last time I am going to ever comment on this page. I agree with Alexpearson and stacyhardy. Its great that management at Monticello is so involved on the wiki and I believe that if more Davis business owners were involved with wiki content it would be great. That being said, I think what people are trying to say is that the vibe Rhonda gives this page puts some people off from patronizing Monticello. I feel that if she wants to be so involved, she should just thank customers for their good comments, ignore the negative and consider suggestions and make your restaurant the best it can be. Prove the negative comments wrong with the quality of your food and service not by making comments on the wiki. I know all this is my opinion and do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I've wanted to say this for a while. Thanks! —jsbmeb
- Profitable business practice: The customer is always right. According to the customer at the vortex of this latest controversy, she paid her tab, "and then" was "STOPPED" by Rhonda to tell her what she done wrong. Another common-sense business practice for Rhonda to perhaps profitably contemplate: "Quitting while you're ahead." —RaoulDuke
@RaoulDuke You are such a mischief maker! I responded to your comments regarding another comment for the first time in many months and the wiki trolls start beating the war drums again. You rascal! I think I may owe you a glass of wine or a beer or another beverage of your choice ;)
2012-02-27 16:21:24 Amen to that, pedalpower. —AJThompson
@pedalpower, If you review the negative comments, many are made by the same folks several times, ie:JaneyLamont and my good friend RaoulDuke (where is the real Hunter S. Thompson when you need him?) . ..and some of the comments are from folks who have never even been to Monticello, as they just make comments about my comments and respond to other comments, and mention nothing about a dining experience. Statistics are a messy business.
On the same note, Yelp just called recently (again) to see if I would purchase some of their advertising. I declined, as it does seem to be a conflict of interest that they sell advertising for a site that is supposed to offer objective reviews. My understanding is that business owners can influence the way the reviews are posted and even filtered. !!—You wrote ["http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/businesses-call-bias-yelp-listings"], you probably meant to write [http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/businesses-call-bias-yelp-listings] (or just http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/businesses-call-bias-yelp-listings) to make an outside the wiki link—!! Clearly the wiki does not engage in these types of practices. However, quite a few folks mention that I should not waste my time commenting on the Wiki because of the Wiki trolls who are just out there thriving on the negative. Notice the time lapse of comments prior to KALee commenting about how this was "Possibly the worst dining experience I have ever had." ...and then the other recent posting with comments by alexandrahenry such as, "I will not be going back there and will never suggest this restaurant to friends, customers, or family. I'll end on this note, I am from Winters and ashamed she uses our name so distastefully and I did find someone who enjoyed the bland chicken- my precious two dogs... however they also willing to eat out of the trash, so I'm not sure how much of a compliment that is.... "
Oh well, everyone has to eat and if you behave yourself (and can tolerate my "attitude") you are welcome to eat here. Many people do and seem to keep coming back. If not, there are plenty of corporate options where they adhere to philosophy that the customer is always right. At an independently owned business, you might just find out that the owner actually has a personality, not just some corporate mantra. Once again, here is my philosophy about why, "The customer is not always right." http://positivesharing.com/2006/07/why-the-customer-is-always-right-results-in-bad-customer-service/ Okay, enough Wiki fun, I gotta get to work! Rhonda
2012-02-29 18:21:43 Rhonda, you don't seem to want to listen to what people are telling you, so I'm not sure why I am bothering, but I strongly suggest you look at the page for Raja's. There you will see comment after comment praising the owner and the way that he treats his customers, and it's clear that he is a big reason why people go back there. Wiki comments aren't all about negativity. When you contrast the Monticello page with the page for Raja, it is clear that something is going on. People really do want you to succeed, but too many of us (yes, me included) have been on the wrong end of your poor customer treatment. —CovertProfessor
Rhonda, just PLEASE stop replying to comments on the Wiki(specifically this page) for the rest of the year. I can see where you come from, you want to defend your restaurant, but it won't help you. Look at KetMo's page or Bistro's page, you can see people who obviously go out of the way, to make a DavisWiki, bash a business, then never log on. As you can see, Management does not even care about these users. Look at Bistro's page, people do the same. Look at almost ANY restaurant that serves alcohol in Downtown Davis, it will piss some person off, and they will make a DavisWiki to bash that restaurant. To be honest, if I did not work in the restaurant industry, I would think you were some person who thought they were better than everyone else, however knowing how restaurants operate, i can see why you'd want to defend your line of work. Just my dos cents. -ND
ND, I disagree. I think it's true that any place like KetMo or Bistro that caters to a drinking crowd will have a lot of complainers because people get drunk, behave badly, and then don't want to admit it. But Monticello seems more similar to Seasons or Tuco's than those places, and I don't see all nearly as many negative comments on for Seasons and Tucos as for Monticello. Rhonda, you really do need to listen to what people are telling you. The customer isn't always right, but lots and lots of customers saying the same thing usually are (I use the same criterion for judging my course evaluations). —CovertProfessor
- Sorry, I can't agree with you, ND. Bistro 33 is the worst business establishment I've ever frequented. A manager accused me of being a liar and trying to rip them off when I told him what crappy service we had received. I agree that the service was unbelievably bad, but that place is unequivocally a horrible business. On a completely separate occasion, when I took my parents there, a busser poured water on my dad's leg while refilling his glass, looked down, smirked, and walked away. I think it's a crying shame that people continue to frequent Bistro and keep it in business because it's got a halfway decent atmosphere. I'd love to see the space used by a restaurant that doesn't hate its customers. Anyway, I'm way off topic here, but I just want to point out that a lot of people who complain about terrible service on the wiki aren't throw-away accounts. Just like the people who rave about places on the wiki aren't always sockpuppets (have I mentioned I love the Beer Shoppe?). My one experience with Monticello was pleasant and the food was fairly good. That said, there are a lot of good places in town, and when one of them has had so many heavily negative reviews, and when the proprietor has a tendency to react badly, it's kind of a turnoff. I wouldn't mind revisiting Monticello, but it's really not a priority. I'll just say, Rhonda, that friendliness goes a long way. It's why I return over and over again to the Shoppe, Sam's, Taqueria Davis, Moxie (in Sac), Tuco's, and so on. —TomGarberson
- Monticello Reality Wiki! —RaoulDuke
- ND, I disagree. I think it's true that any place like KetMo or Bistro that caters to a drinking crowd will have a lot of complainers because people get drunk, behave badly, and then don't want to admit it. But Monticello seems more similar to Seasons or Tuco's than those places, and I don't see all nearly as many negative comments on for Seasons and Tucos as for Monticello. Rhonda, you really do need to listen to what people are telling you. The customer isn't always right, but lots and lots of customers saying the same thing usually are (I use the same criterion for judging my course evaluations). —CovertProfessor
@ Tom and Covert Professor. Come on guys, please employ some analytical critical thinking skills here! So Covert came in during our chicken with our heads cut off, not so soft opening and for a reason he has never disclosed will now forever beat me over the head with his love for the owner of Raja (apples and oranges in many ways for certain) and Tom does not pay attention to the fact that many of the "negative reviews" are simply people responding to my responses, not folks who are commenting on their actual experience dining here. If you look at the comments by date, no one has said anything about experiencing "attitude" at Monticello since June 2011 and they did not even specifically name me in that one! Then 2012 rolls around and BAM! Someone gets really upset because they feel they waited too long for their food and I admitted I did not have a crystal ball to tell them in advance how long their food would take and now I am once again being accused of being some kind of crazed business owner who seeks to drive customers away.
I have been to places that did not meet my expectations many times, but don't write them off completely unless I know something serious about their back of the house operations, as that is where the really important "customer service" begins. I am talking filthy kitchens, sexual harassment, employee mistreatment, etc. etc. All restaurants (and human beings) are on some days, for whatever reason are not up to snuff. We certainly took a well deserved beating on the wiki when we opened and were learning the ropes in our new (and huge compared to Winters) place. I also fully admitted that I was most likely not my smiling, charming self due to lack of sleep, stress, too much coffee for a caffeine sensitive person, training new staff and myself, etc. etc. and apologized to customers on the wiki several times. I even got in touch with some customers with reasonable criticisms personally to invite them in for a chat to see if I could somehow try and make amends.
The real lesson here, as ND and some others have wisely tried to warn me, is that business owners should not engage in the Davis Wiki. Even the supposed moderators have nothing better to do than to "council" me about the proper way to run a restaurant and how I should behave, when they may have been here once or twice at the most. Covert posted the Raja comment quite a while back and then removed it. What was that about? And why was Tom so concerned about RaoulDuke's comments regarding Monticello a while back? Why does he trouble you two so much in general? At least he does not appear to take himself too seriously and can be pretty darn witty.
As for me, Bob Dunning says my writing style will evoke strong reactions one way or the other. If the restaurant fails, at least I have a back up as a journalist! Perhaps I can include exerts from the Davis Wiki in my column's. That would certainly get a rise out of Covert, who appears to have be "hanging on my every word" on the Davis Wiki and in the "Davis Enterprise."
For Davis Wiki readers who enjoy a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere, Ken Kemmerling will be playing jazz standards on the piano tonight (Saturday 3/3 at Monticello from 6-8pm. We have added a couple of new beers, the wine list features some great selections, and Tony is preparing some excellent local, seasonal, organic menu selections. We hope you will join us. Covert and Tom are you are personally invited to join me for a complimentary glass of wine or a beer as a peace offering. RaoulDuke, I will buy your dinner if you show up (and I know you will probably not behave yourself)! Ciao, Rhonda
- Along with my Samoan attorney, Owl Farm cronies and other Gonzo characters, I have always been partial after long nights of "research" to breakfast, as documented in "Breakfast With Hunter," my infamous now-blasted-skyward "real-life" alter ego's warped encomium to that most necessary of all meals. Do you have breakfast, and, if so, provide cocaine for dessert?
- I hope you realize that there are no moderators on the Wiki — you're a moderator just as much as anybody else is. Also, you already own all the content on the Davis Wiki, and are free to use it (and are encouraged to!). It's written by the community for the community. That applies to everybody else too... anything you write or upload here is able to be used by anybody else. It's all under the Creative Common license (click the links in the grey bar below for legal details). —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards, [email protected]
- Rhonda — some brief replies: 1) I've been to your restaurant now on several occasions, always with an academic group, so my reflections on your business are not just about your soft opening. 2) It's not just my love for Raja's owner — it's many people's love for the owner. Did you look at the page?? Again, this shows that people don't just come to the wiki to bash, and that positive behavior will be rewarded. Please do look at it. 3) If I wrote the comment about Raja before and deleted it (I couldn't remember if I had written it before or not — I thought I had, but then couldn't find it — you're more on top of the sequence of edits than I am) it's because I thought it might be helpful to you, then decided not to tilt at windmills, then later (hoping against hope) thought maybe I'd have a shot at that windmill after all. Guess not. 4) As JW says, I am not a moderator, but... 5) I do spend a lot of my time editing the wiki, so while it might seem from your perspective as though I am hyper-focused on your page, I am in fact hyper-focused on all of the pages (and is this is a good thing for a professor to do? No, but that's a conversation for another time). —CovertProfessor P.S. I also read the The Davis Enterprise quite closely, including all of Bob Dunning's columns. Ask JW.
2012-03-03 18:42:04 Rhonda, I (and I'm sure several other contributors to the wiki that have so far kept quite) have watched this unfold for months now, and I have to say that I really don't understand why you won't take the advice that has been given you. As a fellow business owner (very hands on with every client I assure you), I cannot understand why you feel the need to refute every single comment that is posted here. It is just very bad business to do so. And in response to an earlier rebuttal of yours, yes, in my opining, the customer IS always right. It's probably the main reason that I never have gaps in my schedule. If you don't understand the humor, and/or truth to this statement, your business is doomed to failure.
As a side note, I was extremely excited when your restaurant opened. I, and my partner, eat out almost every night of the week, so we are always looking for new and exciting places to try, but after every comment YOU have written (not the negative reviews because I never trust negative reviews) I will most likely never eat at your restaurant. That is a shame for both you, and me. —Davidlm
2012-03-11 16:34:23 We had a great lunch the ceasar salad, grilled chicken breast was outstanding. Keep up the good work and excelent service thanks to all of you!!!! ARTHUR (RUSTY) HAZELTON —toolsforyou
2012-03-16 11:54:23 I haven't visited this restaurant yet, and I like the concept, but today someone told me that I should go to the Monticello Wiki page because it has some crazy stuff going on. So I was at my computer and bored, and I came here. It is pretty entertaining. But the business owner should be aware than when your Wiki page gains a reputation as a place to find some quick entertainment, it isn't good. —crpike
2012-03-28 11:14:51 HELP KEEP THE DOGS SAFE!
We’re raising money for a safety gate at Toad Hollow Dog Park in Davis. Little dogs like Tink need a separate entrance to their area of the park, apart from the big dogs. This City of Davis-approved project promotes a safer environment for dogs of all sizes and their human companions. We’ve raised just over half of the $2400 and need your help for the dogs! Come join us for:
DOG DAY AFTERNOON AT MONTICELLO
Sunday April 15, 2012 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm MONTICELLO RESTAURANT 630 G Street, Davis
Live music, free appetizers and a variety of beverages! $20 suggested donation
2012-04-12 12:28:09 Someone mentioned to me that I'd been mentioned again in the wiki comments, so I came to check it out. Again Rhonda completely fails to understand my perspective.
Let me reiterate my complaint. I don't have an issue with the fact that the kitchen was running behind - I have been to plenty of restaurants and I know things can go wrong from time to time. My point is that when we brought this up, Rhonda came to our table to discuss but was extremely hostile and confrontational, in such a way that it completely ruined our appetites even though we were quite hungry.
From my perspective, if everything goes well at Monticello, you may very well have a great dining experience. However, if anything goes wrong, if you have a complaint (even a legitimate one), be prepared to deal with management that will:
- assume you are at fault - approach you with a hostile attitude ("the customer is always wrong") - not care at all about how you feel, but only about "winning" an argument
From the approach Rhonda has taken on the wiki, I think it's evidence that this is not isolated to my single experience at the restaurant. —KALee
2012-04-20 08:56:10 I have been to Monticello before. It always had really great food. I had a couple of small concerns when they first opened. Now, I think they have really come around to be a lovely restaurant. —Sherri
2012-04-30 15:08:20 Their brunch is great. Really great corn beef hash and walnut carmel french toast . Wish they had different espresso choices. —LokiAbbi
2012-05-28 21:43:58 I freely admit to being on this page for the entertainment and nothing else :) —StephHolm
- Ah, yes, disputacious discourses with your non-routine cuisine courses certainly adds a new dimension in dining. Can't wait for the Socrates Cafe to open out on the patio... —RaoulDuke
2012-06-09 16:25:59 I was considering taking some family from out of town here, because the place itself sounds enchanting and awesome- but after reading the comments from the hostess, Rhonda, I realize that I would not like to visit, unless I knew someone who could vouch for the service. Scared me off, so she did! —AnnaF
2012-06-16 17:00:16 I have been to Monticello several times and have learned that no matter how many people are in my party and how empty or busy the restaurant is, we can expect egregiously slow service but generally good food. And since I love the concept of the restaurant and don't mind slow service as long as I know to expect it, I've continued to go. However, on my last visit we had an encounter with a woman owner (presumably Rhonda, based on the comments above) that was so negative that I will not return. The waitress got our order wrong — certainly no harm in that — and in the process of a pleasant conversation with the waitress about correcting the order, the owner came over and engaged us in what I can only describe as a defensive and slightly hostile manner. Essentially, the owner seemed to disagree on principle with the initial request we had made to alter the sandwich order (e.g., "But pickled onions are commonly served on this kind of sandwich, and people like them"). I think I can safely say that we remained calm and polite and by the end of the conversation thought we had agreed on a suitable understanding of our request. Then a new version of the sandwich returned... with picked onions. We wanted to articulate our concerns with how the owner had handled the situation (I don't like to leave Wiki comments without communicating them to the business directly first), but she did not return to our table again. —ellenjoyce
2012-07-10 23:59:04 I heard Zagat and Michelin were in town recently...true? I wonder what their ratings and comments would be.... —fknochenhauer
2012-07-15 17:38:52 Best dining experience I've had in Davis! All the food comes directly from local farms and you can taste the difference. I had the Niman Ranch flatiron steak which was amazing! The meat was tender, full of flavor, and had a delicious rosemary butter to top it off. I was then taken aback by the vegetables that accompanied the dish, they almost stole the show, especially the zucchini, yum! We then proceeded to have all the deserts which included the chocolate mouse, apricot cobbler, and the vanilla panna cotta. I'm very much a chocolate person, but I was blown away by the cobbler! I liked the other deserts as well, but the fresh, warm, and delicious apricot bites were compelling enough to come back the following day for brunch to order another apricot dish!
The place is a bit pricey, but the lunch and brunch menus aren't bad at all. No more than I spend at burgers and brew. And I'm happy to spend a little more at dinner time anyways to support a restaurant that shares my beliefs in local, organic, and sustainable farming practices. The meat products are also locally produced and humanely raised on sustainable farms/ranches.
All in all the experience I had was fantastic! I consider myself already a loyal customer. I would recommend this place to college or middle aged couples looking for a classy dining experience for dinner. And for lunch and brunch it's great for small groups. Or if you're health and environmentally conscious like me, then this is a place you can rest easy and just enjoy good food! —Edison
2012-07-15 18:41:21 Organic food from local farms! Highest quality restaurant food I've ever had!
I usually don't eat out because I am very picky about my diet, but Monticello has some of the highest quality food I've ever eaten at a restaurant. They only use fresh seasonal vegetables and meat from small local farms. Awesome! —elliotwaite
2012-07-15 19:26:09 Monticello is now my favorite restaurant. I lament how long it took me to get in there - the food was awesome and met all my (many) requirements. I started out with the Market Salad which was large (especially considering the price) and covered with walnuts, dried fruits, goat cheese, and came with a balsamic vin on the side. For my entree, I ordered the organic half chicken AND IT ROCKED MY WORLD. The execution was flawless. The chicken was not deep fried, but lightly pan fried for a lighter dish, but the skin was still perfectly crisp and brimming with flavor. The meat was tender and moist and sat atop a nice panzanella salad with beets. I didnt realize until after the meal was over that everything I had just eaten was local and organic. It basically felt like I just did the world a favor by eating there. Go me. To wrap up the evening, my friends and I split all three desserts. The panna cotta was my favorite - easily. It was perfectly creamy and lightly sweet with specks of vanilla bean throughout the entire dish. The cobbler was also bomb - even though Im not usually a pie person. The chocolate mousse was done perfectly, however I am not a coffee-in-my-dessert fan so the mild undertone wasn't for me. My best friend however loved it. Pretty sure she used her finger to clean the dish.... Shh. I will definitely be back. The lunch and brunch prices are absolutely fine for weekly dining and the dinners are so good that Monticello will be first choice for dates, special occasions with family, and ladies wine nights. —laurencd
2012-07-15 22:57:17 Went for brunch today and had the french toast, and it was delicious. Service was pretty good as well. The prices seemed high initially, until you realize that you are paying directly for quality ingredients and presentation. Will definitely be eating here again. —MichaelHolmes
I love eating local and supporting local farmers and when I come across a restaurant that serves all locally grown food and mostly organic I know I have found a gem. Their menue changes often because it is based on what's available from the nearby farms. However, everything so far has been amazing. I ate there for dinner and went back for lunch the next day. While there I talked with the owner and learned more details about their operation. It matters to me who grows, harvests, handles, and prepares my food. Because of this I rarely eat out but I can now comfortably eat at Monticello's whenever I want. They have a cool lit up bar. There is a piano with live acoustic music to set the mood. It was well lit and looked very modern inside. I would definitely take a date here or make an evening out of coming to Monticello's. The outside appearance doesn't do the restaurant justice so if you drive up and see it. definitely go inside and try any dish. -Dov Rohan
2012-07-18 14:22:09 Some friends and I recently took brunch here at Monticello and loved it! The brunch menu was very affordable and even more delicious. The croque madame was amazing! It was great to hear that they've established their restaurant using local means and cooperate with other small local businesses. I will definitely return here to further explore the seasonal menus! —MassimoMarra
2012-07-19 19:15:49 Three of us (one teen, one UCD junior, and one adult) had a birthday dinner there last night. We had gazpacho, onion rings, under-a-brick chicken, fried chicken n' waffles, salmon, and stone-fruit cobbler. Our food was delicious, we were allowed to linger, and Rhonda was not only gracious and patient but also downright delightful. Monticello was splurge-worthy! —Chamoudah
2012-07-23 14:21:43 Well, I'm coming late to this, but here are some impressions:
(1) I have enjoyed the food on the several occasions I've dined at the restaurant. Their dessert portions were HUGE and I've actually pointed that out to the servers. It's a little intimidating to have an absolutely gigantic piece of cake to work through. Yes, I appreciate that there's value for money, and I know that people can take the leftovers home. Just sayin' that the desserts are really big.
(2) I work for the University and- trust me- the customer is not always right. I get some small satisfaction from telling students that. However, when I tell a paying customer they're wrong, I try at the very least to do it professionally and succinctly and not belabor the point. Telling a customer they're wrong is one thing. Lecturing them- at length- on a public resource like a Wiki is another. Intimating that people who don't like it can just go somewhere else _might_ be appropriate at UCD, where the student actually has nowhere else to go without a very expensive and disruptive transfer. On the other hand, Davis, irrespective of the owner of this restaurant's opinion, has _many_ other dining options. Do you _really_ want your employees, who depend on you for their salaries, to lose their jobs just because you have an exaggerated expectation that your patrons "act appropriately" both inside and outside of your place (which, it seems, means "don't question the management")?
(3) Coming here and denigrating a poster who praises Raja doesn't show a great understanding for the community in which you reside, in my opinion. That man is one of the kindest, gentlest souls I think I've met since moving here. He walks around at lunchtime shaking college students' hands, thanking them profusely for wandering into his restaurant and paying $8 to stuff their faces. I've dined at his restaurant dozens of times and have not once left there feeling unhappy with either the food or the service, minimal though it may be.
Now, the owner hasn't commented here in quite some time, and I certainly don't wish to stir up controversy again. However, it's important to note that her comments will be here in perpetuity, coloring the perceptions of prospective diners who visit this page. Perhaps that's something to think about for the future. —ChrisV
2012-07-23 15:43:00 Ummm, ChrisV it does seem like you wanted to stir things up again. Obviously, Rhonda heard our words and doesn't need to defend herself or the restraunt here anymore. Sounds from the latest reviews that her food is doing the talking now. It is sad that we can't let a new restraunt go through growing pains and feel that they will be judged forever by those initial actions. I believe that people can learn from one another. I have been to Monticello's several times and the food and servce has always been wonderful. —LokiAbbi
2012-11-22 14:23:07 Worst place in town! The food is only ok but the service is horible! Food takes for ever to get table and gets there cold once it shows up. Dont dare trying to speek up. You will just be yelled at by the owners! NEVER will ever go again! Sorry i wasted my time in the first place —samwalker
2013-01-05 15:34:25 We finally checked this place out last night. Overall it was a mixed experience.
We shared the goat cheese crostini - it was nothing too special and rather overpriced. Partner had "beef tournedos" and was very impressed. My mac and cheese was really tasty, though the macaroni was overcooked/mushy. I also got the market salad. Sadly the balsamic dressing on it was tasteless. There were walnuts on the salad as well, which were not listed in the menu description - an unfortunate addition because I am slightly allergic. It was a good salad aside from those two flaws.
They give a 10% discount when you show your co-op membership card, which is nice.
Service was good. For the majority of our dinner we were the only two guests, not sure how service would be if the restaurant was busier. Bob Wren was playing music and even took a request. It was a verrry relaxing atmosphere. —MeggoWaffle
2013-04-30 18:48:00 My kids and I decided to try the Sunday brunch. My daughter chose the Tofu Scramble and thought it had too much tofu. My son liked the Eggs Monticello with bacon (instead of ham), and I thought the poached egg and corned beef hash was good. Our server Sara and her assistant were friendly and very helpful. Our only criticism is the coffee. The Pepper Peddler was the only choice offered. There were grounds at the bottom of our cups, and none of us liked the coffee. My daughter really wanted a Latte and was surprised it wasn't offered. I strongly recommend that the owners offer alternatives to the Pepper Peddler: Latte, Macchiato, Cappuccino, or at least another type of coffee. —nowhereman
2013-05-13 19:43:22 The wife and I visited here for our first time this past weekend. Bob Wren was playing a multitude of instruments and the sounds were very soothing and pleasant. We sat at the very cool bar for a bit before dinner and enjoyed a nice mimosa and a Rubicon IPA. The beer was great, the mimosa was pleasing but I would have really enjoyed a nice martini or cocktail would that been possible. The staff was incredibly friendly, really informal and as the drinks settled in we started to enjoy ourselves a bit more. It was subdued inside and while guests were seated it still could have been a bit more lively for going on 7pm on a Friday night. We moved to a table and ordered dinner. We had a pasta dish and a salmon entree and we were both very pleased. The salmon was so fresh tasting and cooked perfectly. The pasta was fresh, had very nice cuts for the veggies and really hit home. Another glass of wine with dinner was great and for dessert we shared a very excellent lemon bar that was so fresh and yummy. The Service was attentive without being pushy or bothersome, the food was wonderful, the price was as expected and overall I'd say we were surprised as to the quality and taste of everything. Its a great find here in Davis that doesn't always have a college crowd to contend with and really was a great night out for parents of small children. We will be heading back to try the brunch with the kids. —loneshark
2013-08-22 16:51:45 My husband and I got married in June 2013 and arranged with Rhonda and Tony to have our wedding reception at their restaurant. It was wonderful! We had around 75 guests some of whom were vegan, vegetarian, or gluten- or soy-intolerant and we arranged to have a 1/3 carnivore, 2/3 vegan buffet for the reception. The food was amazing! We had a Mediterranean-style feast with grilled vegetables, wonderful beans, salad, fish and roasted meat all of which was fresh and very delicious. I went back for seconds! We brought our own beer and wine, which was no problem, but Rhonda could also have provided a wonderful selection of both beer or wine. Rhonda and Chris were our servers and they were very attentive but also unobtrusive and I have nothing but appreciation for all the work they put into our dinner. We also had The Golden Cadillacs play music after dinner and the space and sound was wonderful! We had a great dance floor and the music sounded perfect. I highly recommend Monticello for a private party or reception. And of course I would also recommend them for a normal dinner, brunch, or wine tasting, all of which we have also experienced! I love the locally-sourced food and the fact that you can get delicious vegan entrees (something that is very hard to find in Davis). Thank you Tony and Rhonda and Chris for a perfect wedding reception, one that we will remember always! —RacineBarton
2013-09-28 15:45:05 I would say the quality of the ingredients is high but without proper seasoning what is the point? time and again this has been my experience here and at their food booths —mronepercent
- Interesting; I never have eaten there, but am curious: does the seasoning clash, overwhelm or is it absent? Because, in any of those cases: what a farm-to-fork tragedy. —briankenyon
2014-01-24 12:10:43 I hate writing letters complaining, and I had originally not wanted to come here to post something, but after a truly lukewarm excuse of a response from the owner, I feel differently.
We had a very disappointing meal a couple of weeks ago. First we were placed at a table and we're then asked to move for a larger party. Mind you we were the second group in the restaurant and no other large party ever came. Then 2 of the 4 were given wrong menus...different descriptions of the items. Then our wine menu was removed to fix a mistake, and not returned for 10 minutes. Our server was not familiar with the specials. One of us ordered a steak medium well and came our medium rare (almost rare). Our dirty appetizer plates stayed on the table. 2 of us had their beverages come out, and another had to ask for it.
When we ordered dessert with a couple of extra plates (3 desserts for 4 people), we had to ask twice for extra plates. On top of all of this incredibly poor service we were forced to pay an 18% tip ("service charge") on the almost $150 bill. While I understand that servers are not paid a living wage, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. And mind you, I tip 20%.
I had been looking forward to showing an out of town guest good local food, but I was very disappointed. We went to Seasons the next night with a very large group and had much better service and equal to better food.
Someone from the place called after I sent an email and when I returned her call, she wasn't available (which is fine). The person asked for my name and when I was ready to give my phone number she hung up.
The chef emailed me about 1.5 weeks later with an excuse that he had employees out with the flu. I get that, but we were the SECOND party in the place, right after they opened. And this is not an excuse for getting the meals wrong, not clearing plates, etc.
I don't like to complain, but this was in the bottom 3 worst services ever. I will not go back. —mjbain
- Wait, so if I am understanding correctly, you had 4 guests total in your party and you got slapped on a auto grat? Wow that is really odd. Either 1, Monticello needs to change their "large pary" size, or 2, your server auto gratted the wrong table, but still that is ridiculous.
2014-03-15 10:49:59 The system of tipping is broken, and we are not doing our best when we cooperate with it. The Monticello philosophy is consistent with "Always do your best." Wait staff should make a living from salary, and tipping should be a separate thing between the client and the server, and what does percentage have to do with it? If service was worth $20 to me, that is what I will tip, even if my bill was $20, or less! It is insulting to tell me what value I place on the service that was given. In some countries autograts are illegal. If I do not know how to treat people, don't let me in the door! Don't take that literally, just making the point that this is about respect. —LoveJoy
- Auto-gratuities are not illegal, but restaurant owners in particular need to be aware that they are no longer classified as tips as of January 2014 according to IRS Rev Rule 2012-18 and are now considered supplementary wages, which must be accounted for when calculating the regular rate of pay for overtime. They are also subject to Soc Sec and additional taxes. So there's that. It's an accounting nightmare a lot of restaurants are choosing to avoid. —LilyS
2014-05-06 10:14:40 We are headed here tonight and have eaten here before. I must say that seeing the auto-gratuity of 18% is VERY off putting. The previous meal was about 6 months ago and it was fine, service was okay, but the food was solid. (Before auto-tip) I see myself as a good tipper, but I'm pretty much offended by being forced to tip 18% before I've even received service. If it's great service I certainly tip more than 18%, but if it's poor service or food, why should I still be forced to pay an auto-grat? It also seems a bit odd as the last time we visited the owner was our main server for the evening.
—Update— Well we did visit there last night. Seated promptly, order was taken in a decent time. I enjoy their limited menu size as it means fresh ingredients and focus. The food was really good and we tried 5 different items between the two of us. The one comment would be that most all of the dishes had spring onions and asparagus. While smart from the prep side of things, it really didn't provide a varied flavor profile for the customer. Again the food was great but there was a similar taste and texture to each of my dishes. Service.. well.. I had to remind them of the drinks we ordered after we were fully in the midst of the appetizers and again had to remind them of the second drink I ordered. By the time I received that, I was almost finished with my meal. The servers seems very new to the restaurant, had some trouble pronouncing ingredients, not knowing certain things about menu items and being rather uncomfortable in placing dishes and drinks onto the table. All in all, it was a great meal, it was rather expensive for Davis. 18% forced "service charge/trip" is simply too high for the service received. We were never visited by the manager or asked about how things were going. Without a doubt I would have tipped, but it really would have been in the 12-15% range given the spotty service. I really do believe that the tip should be earned through excellent service and skill in the art of serving. Will I go back? Certainly for brunch or lunch, probably in another year for dinner. Once more, the food was excellent, kudos to the chef!
2015-08-12 12:48:41 Well, as of the end of July 2015, the restaurant is now closed. An unpleasant dispute with the landlords precipitated this. They are currently hoping to relocate the restaurant; Sacramento is a likely destination. —wertperch