We have dined at Cafe Central on many occasions over the years and even made purposeful trips to Bristol just to have dinner there. On the way back from T.F. Green Airport, this was our go-to place. The food was great, the bread was fresh and plentiful, the kale soup was almost as good as my homemade, and the servers were wonderful. However, the past two visits have given us a hefty pause in our ever going there again. The first disappointment happened when we invited some good friends to eat there with us. We waited an interminably long time for service, and the meals took just as long. It was embarrassing to hear our friends making comments about the service. We tried to make light of it, but after an hour or so of this nonsense, it wasn't funny anymore. When we left, a woman, who appeared to be an owner or a manager was outside having a cigarette, and she implored us to please give them another chance, that they were short-handed that night, because someone had called out at the last minute, and she was so sorry. Very nice of her, so we gave it another shot, this time with a party of twelve! We had called to reserve tables for our group, and when I arrived, it was all set up, which was a good sign. That was where it ended though. We got there before 6 PM, and we had a 9:00 event to get to, and no word of a lie, we barely got out of there by 8:30! The service was slow and horrendous, orders were all screwed up, and like the first fiasco, we were embarrassed that we had invited such a large group of our friends to eat there with us, based on the good dining experiences we had had so many times. My guests were obviously unhappy with what they ordered and with the terrible service. My husband got up to find a manager at one point, and there was a little more movement, but not enough to get us served and out of there at a reasonable, acceptable time. We then found out that our server was actually a bus girl, told to be a waitress that night, and she had never waited tables before! We heard again that they were unusually short-staffed that night ( a FRIDAY night). No one, except our poor flustered bus girl/waitress apologized. When we finally, painfully finished, the owner/chef came out and spoke to my husband, who felt responsible for this disastrous outing, and this man was cocky and unapologetic. He asked, "What do you want to do? Not pay the bill? What do you want from me?" He was belligerent to the point where we understood maybe why they were short-staffed on two separate occasions. Waitresses that we had had before and who were wonderful, like Casey M., were no longer there, so perhaps the problem is managerial. The food is so good most of the time, too, but honestly, even the most delectable dishes sour in the wake of abysmal service and managerial nonchalance. Now we need to find a new Portuguese restaurant.
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