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Jay West Imports Should Try To Import Some Customer Service

To be fair, they no longer refer to themselves as Jay West Imports.  Even the sign outside now only says Jay West.  I guess we can abandon any hope of them importing anything, least of all decent customer service.

For years, I’ve been driving past the gorgeous gowns in the window at Jay West in Haddonfield, NJ.  I have only ever purchased one dress there, and it was Brighid’s Sweet 16 party gown.  Service then was fair, but Brighid saw her dress relatively quickly and we were in and out in less than 20 minutes.

When my sister announced her engagement a few months ago, I started admiring the windows again.  Whenever I’d see something I loved, I’d call Brighid and tell her to drive by and see it, knowing that Megan would hate it anyway.  But the gowns in the windows change quickly, and the styles are quite varied, so I thought it would be a great place for us to take Meg on the hunt for the perfect gown.

The store surprises you – it’s about the size of a bread box.  I had to make sure I had my Spanx on just to fit in the doorway.  Megan’s appointment was for 1 PM, and we were about 25 minutes early.  We expected to wait for a consultant to help us since we were so early, but the woman at the counter handed us off to one of the other consultants, and we were escorted past the velvet rope to the downstairs bridal area.

You don’t really get to look for dresses here.  The consultant asked Meg what she was looking for, and I thought we were pretty clear that we wanted plain, simple, nothing with lace, and it had to be light and casual feeling for the upcoming beach wedding.

To begin with, the consultant made us feel like we interrupted her private audience with the Pope.  She CLEARLY did not want to help us, and when we told her how simple of a gown we wanted, she must have seen visions of a hefty commission diminish before her very eyes.  She walked us around the tightly packed room, grabbing gowns here and there, asking two more times if Megan would look at something in lace.  We ended up with about six gowns that Megan approved, and we headed towards the fitting room.  It was at this point that the consultant asked what size bra Meg wore, so she could bring her a long line, strapless number more suitable to trying on gowns.  When she found out just how fortunately blessed my sister was in the area of bust size, she very quickly ruled out at least two of the dresses she had pulled, claiming that there wasn’t a way to wear any bra with them, and there wouldn’t be enough support for someone so well endowed.  Well, then why didn’t you ask that as one of your first questions?

Another thing she never did was ask if Megan had a budget.  Can you imagine finding the dress you love and can’t see yourself walking down the aisle without, only to find out it is way out of your budget?  That would be an absolute tragedy.

After we bothered her through trying on four gowns, she suggested we pull a few bridesmaid dresses, because Megan’s tastes were so simple, there wasn’t a wedding gown that would suit her anywhere in the real world.  She may not have used those words, but she completely stopped trying to find a suitable wedding gown.  She pulled about six very similar in style bridesmaid dresses, then seemed irked when Megan actually liked some for her bridesmaids.

She wandered off for a minute, then came back with a gown so heavily beaded, we’d have to get a front loader to get Megan down the aisle.  She tells Megan to “indulge her” and put the gown on.  It is a corseted style gown, which she mentions NOW, after we’ve already tried on a bunch of dresses, is really a good style for my sister because of her shape.  The gown looks stunning on (but so would a burlap bag on my sister), but is in the completely opposite direction of what Meg wanted.  Does this woman suggest they have something simpler in a similar style?  She does not.

So after being made to feel that we were completely irritating her that we walked into the store, she disregarded most of what we told her Megan wanted, then we were subjected to her telling us we were never going to find a wedding gown like Megan wanted unless we went with a bridesmaid gown.

We left, feeling disheartened from the experience.  I’d never go back there again.

Did we get a wedding gown?  Yes.  Was it the shape, style, and simplicity that my sister wanted?  Absolutely.  Did the consultant in the other store treat us like a nuisance?  Not only did she not, but we went in without an appointment and she still made us feel welcome.

Jay West is a long standing business, and they must be doing something right somewhere.  We just didn’t see it anywhere during our visit.

The Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten

Food is one of my favorite things.  Turns out, I can’t live without it.  But as much as I love food, there will always be some foods that stand out as some of the best things I’ve ever had to eat. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of my favorites:

Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando

Pears on Pecan Crisps – My mouth waters when I think about eating this. 

My favorite part of Cafe Tu Tu Tango is that it’s a funky tapas style restaurant, where you order a bunch of stuff and everyone shares.  My least favorite part of Cafe Tu Tu Tango is that my family expects me to share this dish.

Imagine oven roasted pears, done to a juicy perfection, just long enough to bring out the incredible sweetness.  Place the pears on top of a crisp, wafer thin type of cracker made from pecans, add a fresh arugula and bleu cheese salad, then drizzle the whole thing with a balsamic glaze.  I know – you’re drooling now too, right? 

There are so many flavors in the dish, that you wonder how it’s all going to come together, but the harmony of sweet, tangy, crispy and creamy is music in your mouth. 

Elements Cafe, Haddon Heights, NJ

Cinnamon Ice Cream – You know that phrase “To Die For”?  It was invented after tasting this ice cream!

Chef Fred at Elements Cafe is a tapas genius.  We’ve eaten at Elements five or six times, and every meal is more memorable than the last.  The fact that this is another tapas style restaurant would have you believe that with the appetizer sized portions that I’m sharing with my family, there would be plenty of room for dessert, but there almost never is.  But whatever else you eat, leave room for the cinnamon ice cream.

The ice cream conjures up memories of fall, and family, and home.  Sweet, with the spice of the cinnamon, cold and creamy – it’s like a grown up version of your favorite treat from childhood.  The ice cream is usually paired with some other spectacular dessert, but this stands alone.  I wish I had some right now.

Bruno’s Restaurant and Pizza, Haddonfield, NJ

Roasted Red Pepper Gnocchi with Seafood

There should be a picture of this dish here, but every time we’ve gotten it, it’s been gone before I remember that I don’t have a picture of this work of art!

Bruno’s was our favorite local pizza shop for years before we ventured in to sit down for dinner.  We’ve always listened intently to the list of specials, and each time we’ve gone, we order from the specials list.

That’s where we first met roasted red pepper gnocchi.  I have to tell you, Jim has never been a fan of gnocchi, and now we know why.  What we were used to were heavy, gummy, and flavorless lumps of pasta.  What you’ll find at Bruno’s are flavorful, delicious, and topped with the freshest shrimp and the meatiest pieces of crabmeat.  I could never eat the entire dinner by myself, but even with Jim and I sharing, we always have some left over for lunch the next day – how could this not be a favorite? 

Adding to the whole experience, you’ll often see the man himself, shaking hands as patrons walk into his restaurant, and the waitstaff are friendly and fun, and they make you feel like you’re part of the family.  What could be better than having one of your favorite meals in one of your favorite family restaurants?

Let me know what some of your food favorites are.  I have a whole list – and I’m sure I’ll be sharing again soon!