I really don’t know how to describe how terrible P. F. Chang’s was. I’d been meaning to give it a shot for years, and finally got around to visiting the one in Stamford.
The experience started a bit rough; we had a reservation; one of the individuals at the front of the house grabbed some menus and started walking towards tables; in the absence of any fucking words to tell us what was going on with our reservation I assumed that meant we were being ushered to our tables. I was wrong. We returned to the front podium and with no further words the same individual came back, grabbed some more menus, and beckoned to us.
We were seated at a table for four (there were only two of us) that could have been separated. Not a big deal. We waited a few minutes for our waiter to appear, ordered a couple of drinks (a pear mojito, which was okay, and a martini that featured sparkling wine, which was sweet and not particularly martini-like) that took about 10 minutes to show up. Water was also requested, which showed up and was refilled infrequently (every 20 minutes or so) throughout the evening.
We gave the dinner-for-two $40 menu a shot, featuring two soups, an appetizer, two main dishes, and two desserts. We started with both the egg drop and hot and sour soup. Both had the consistency of hot pudding. The egg drop soup tasted like semen mixed with chicken noodle soup, and the hot and sour soup tasted like beef vegetable soup. Both were salted beyond even my love of sodium, exacerbated by the infrequently refilled water.
The appetizer arrived and our delinquent waiter had yet to deliver the sauces for the table, which are apparently part of the experience at this fine establishment; we requested them again and they showed up and explained how the show works.
The appetizer was calamari, in theory. In practice, it was some sort of dry extruded polystyrene. It didn’t look at all like calamari, and I couldn’t find any evidence of the squid anywhere inside the Styrofoam. It was well engineered for sucking up sauce, but … I can’t describe how terrible and unimpressive this was.
The main dishes were two different chicken dishes, and both were easily the worst “Chinese” chicken dishes I’ve ever had. The $4.95 special at whatever takeout Chinese restaurant is in your neighborhood is at least two orders of magnitude better. The chicken came in minuscule chunks. It was soggy, flavorless, and had texture worse than chicken nuggets. I would have celebrated a trip to McDonald’s. Seriously. The vegetables tasted like dirt at best, and the sauce was worse than something from a jar.
Dessert wasn’t a real dessert, but some shot glasses with dessert in them. The tiramisu (?!?) wasn’t ghastly, the cheesecake was pretty horrible.
The meal cost $75 after tip. That’s $20 per person for the fixed price menu, two drinks from the drink menu, tax, and gratuity. What the hell.
On the upside, the restaurant looked nice inside. It was very clean, modern, and aesthetically pleasing. On the downside, this is the only upside.
I can’t really emphasize how terrible this was. I have no idea why anybody would ever eat at such a place.