The Cliff House Maine (part of Destination Hotels) offered an Ice Bar party over the weekend and it was a perfect idea to celebrate my sister's birthday.
We arrived at the hotel around 4:00 pm and found the outdoor terrace where the party was being held. Our first impression wasn't great. To start there was a long line of traffic pulling into the resort. The staff were turning away anyone who didn't have a dinner reservation as they were at capacity. Luckily, my brother in law made a dinner reservation for us. Out on the terrace there was only 1 ice bar and it had a long line of guests waiting for drinks. We purchased drink tickets (mixed drink, beer, or non-alcoholic options). The bartenders were very friendly and did keep the line moving. The mixed drink was kind of a cosmopolitan and while tasty it would have been nice to be able to select from a menu. Our drinks were poured down the ice luge and into our cups with a lime garnish.
To the right of the terrace there was an interior party as well. Inside we found a good live band, dancing, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Eventually we found a cash bar inside as well. Around 5:00 the staff brought out complimentary shrimp cocktail, oysters, and ceviche. As you can imagine these went very fast!
At 6:00 we made our way back outside. We enjoyed standing around the fire pit and watching the fireworks. Once the show was over we made our way to the hotel and to The Tiller Restaurant. The interior of the hotel was packed with people and we had a very long wait to order drinks.
I feel that the hotel wasn't prepared for the amount of people attending the event. It would have been much better if they created an event page and sold tickets that way they could have better prepared themselves. We enjoyed our time at the Ice Bar party however things then took a turn for the worse.
We checked in for our reservation and were seated around 7:30 pm. We ordered the lobster chowder, duck meatloaf, ricotta gnocchi, parsnip soup, grilled romaine, mussels and the charcuterie board to start. The parsnip soup was overly sweet, the romaine was barely grilled, and the mussels were bland. The most upsetting was the charcuterie board. The board offered only 2 pieces of meat and was mostly cheese and fruit. If we wanted the cheese board we would have ordered it. Most servers would recognize that a full bowl of mussels left on the table is a problem. Our server didn't ask if we were done nor did she ask if they were okay. The server merely took the bowl away.
For entrees we ordered the short rib, oxtail ragu, scallops, and the lobster pasta. The short rib was incredibly dry, the oxtail ragu was sent back because it was ice cold, the scallops were over cooked, and the lobster pasta was so undercooked that it felt as though there were shells in the bowl. When we explained why none of us finished our plates the server basically said oh that's not good and then continued to talk about the snow outside.
For dessert the server stated that we would get complimentary dessert to make us happy. Two dishes were ordered along with 2 coffees, and an espresso. The server brought over 2 coffees and 2 espressos even though one wasn't ordered. The worst offense of the evening was when I tasted the espresso. The espresso tasted rancid that I couldn't force myself to drink it and had to spit it back into the cup. The others at the table tasted the 2nd espresso and it was just as bad. We aren't sure if your machine isn't clean, the water temperature wasn't right, or the grinds were old but it was incredibly unpleasant. The server came back to our table and I apologized for having to complain again but the espresso was unacceptable. The server again didn't apologize just tried to force me to take a cup of coffee. I had to state over and over that I didn't want one.
At no point did a manager come to our table. For an over $300 meal the food and service were incredibly lacking. I read a negative review on the ice bar party page and couldn't believe it but after our experience I understand the gentleman's frustration. With so many other wonderful options on the coast of Maine we wouldn't recommend the restaurant and wouldn't return.