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Review Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017
When the Wave first opened at the Contemporary Resort, I had a couple of really good experiences there. Sadly, those experiences seem to be getting more mundane as time passes. A recent visit for try one of the new menu items (a Cioppino) only seemed to solidify that feeling.
On my latest visit, there just seemed to be a layer of unenthusiasm in the food, service and environment… that on it's own would lead to a luke warm, so-so kind of review. But when you figure in the prices being charged, (and therefore my expectations for the experience as a whole), were not really met.
Our party of three were seated in one of the half-booth, half-chair type of tables that line a couple of the walls at the Wave. The mixed seating is fine I suppose, but it does mean that whomever is sitting in the chairs, gets to look at a wall and a drape all night long. There's not much point in having a themed, well designed room... if half of your party is staring at a drab orange curtain that looks dated enough to make you believe it came right from the set of "Mad Men".
The waiter wasn't really thrilled about... well anything it seemed, and there were no recommendations as to specials or what was particularly good that evening. It was very "by the numbers" service, and we were only checked on a few times over the course of the meal.
The food itself also failed to "wow". The bread and butter being the only real exception. The Wave does make an amazing fresh multi-grain bread in-house. The thick cut slices are quite good and served with real butter that has been topped with a course ground natural salt. The bread service (which is complimentary for the dinner period) might well have been best part of the meal.
Beyond that, the $34 Grilled Beef Tenderloin that my dining companions ordered was a fairly ugly cut of meat that had been allowed to set under a heat lamp for far too long. I have never been one to complain about plating so much. My feeling is, if the food is great, it doesn't quite matter that much if the plating is lacking.
In this case though (in both the Beef Tenderloin and the Cioppino), there seemed to be very little care or forethought placed on what the entrees would look like once served. It's hard to know where in the chain from kitchen to table this took place, but the photos don't lie. Take a look at the Beef Tenderloin photo in particular, and see if you think that's a $35 steak. Nothing was moved, nothing was cut into, that's how it was brought to the table. The Cioppino photo as well… if you can see a ring around where the broth was, but is no longer, and I haven't eaten anything yet… the plating or delivery method needs to change.
Neither of the steaks themselves (my dining companions each ordered the same thing) were particularly remarkable in any way, and neither was what could be considered a choice cut steak. The Glazed Root Vegetables under the steak were cold, which is what prompted a new side-bowl of hot Glazed Root Vegetables to be brought out from the kitchen… so there's that.
The Cioppino was the new dish on the Wave dinner menu that I wanted to try, and one could say it was full of actual seafood meats… or… that it was extremely lacking in the broth department. I guess that depends on if you're a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. It's my feeling that the Spiced Tomato-Clam Broth should be "well spiced" and plentiful, neither was the case in this dish. The actual flavors could only be described as a watered down tomato soup and there really wasn't enough of it in the dish to partake in any "bread sopping up" of the broth, which… is actually part of the Cioppino experience.
Normally, we would order dessert at the Wave. They have had these cool little mini-desserts that offered unique seasonal tastes, but everything was so lack-luster up to that point… the decision was made to just call it a night.
I'm not really sure what's needed at the Wave. Some excitement somewhere again, that's for sure. It kind of feels like the location is stuck between not knowing if it is supposed to be a fine dining experience, or a airport Steak and Ale House from 1980. I hope they figure it out. As it stands now, I could only muster up a lukewarm "maybe" recommendation for the location.