2010-01-21 13:11:27 While the food is good and the atmosphere is romantic, the service at The Mustard Seed is the antithesis of class. The owners, "charming" couple Robyn and Paul, run the show and you can tell. They are constantly verbally abusing the staff in FRONT of the customers or behind the kitchen door, which doesn't make a difference because the shrill of that woman's voice carries across the entire restaurant. I saw the hostess once crying in the front room while forced to fold napkins during a busy dinner shift. It doesn't matter to them how they treat their employees, however because it is a college town and they can easily find a replacement. They aren't just rude to the employees, if you're not a personal friend of the owners, you are at the bottom of their priorities. I'm surprised that someone has not called the Better Business Bureau yet.
They are usually understaffed, so Robyn takes on the responsibility of being both the hostess, waitress and busser. Yet, due to the overwhelming amount of some busy nights and lack of staff, customers are not walking into a restaurant to be served yet the idea is that she is there to serve you whenever she has the time. Friends once tried to dine there and waited a total of 2 hours before asking for their food to go because they could not wait any longer.
The worst part is that the location and space is wonderful and could have the potential of being a hot spot in Davis, but for the price you're paying to support a "mom and pop" business, I'd rather put my money toward people who had some sense of social decorum. —GoAggies22
2010-02-19 21:44:11 I ate here for my Godfather's birthday along with my mother on a Friday night. I made my reservation online earlier in the day and everything worked out smoothly. The first thing we all noticed was that while the restaurant looks like nothing on the outside, the inside feels very cozy. The low ceiling, wine cabinets, and fireplace really make you feel at home. We were waited by the owners of the restaurant, who, judging by the other comments I see here, were having a good day. Service was fine for me.
We started our meal with an order of crab cakes, French onion soup, and caesar salad. All three were delicious. The soup in particular was probably the best I've had of its kind; the cheese was not as thick as some other places make it, but was nevertheless delicious; the soup itself is herby and very tasty. The crab cakes were cooked perfectly, with just enough crisp on the outside, and enough crab density on the inside to make a hearty bite. The caesar dressing was creamy and the leaves themselves were fresh and crunchy. The bread was served with garlic butter and, as usual, came from Village Bakery but also warmed up; in other words, delicious.
For entrees, we had the duck, the short rib penne, and the gnocchi. All three were incredible. In particular I liked the mushrooms they added to the pasta; they had the taste of "wild" shrooms but were also cooked in butter. The gnocchi were firm and delicious, the duck cooked just right. The greatness tapered off a little with the dessert; the creme brulee was great, but the apple tart and lemon cake were not as great as the other meals (but still awesome).
While everything tasted great, what struck me the most about the food here was that everything was cooked perfectly. Nothing was overcooked or undercooked; every dish had a good bite to it; perfect texture. This was especially true with the gnocchi and the crab cakes. Overall, I'd say this was one of my better dining experiences in Davis. —BrandonWong
2010-03-05 10:22:18 The Mustard Seed is truly a delight! I try to go there for lunch as often as I can. The food is always prepared beautifully. The atmosphere is calming and homey. I think their prices are very reasonable. Especially for the quality of the food which is consistently awesome. —ashleyinthemist
2010-03-21 18:16:47 I have been wanting to come dine at the Mustard Seed since I moved to Davis 5 years ago, but never had the occasion to do so. But on my first wedding anniversary, my husband and I celebrated here - HUGE letdown. After reading the reviews, I expected maybe some mean/weird/argumentative owners and some excellent food. What we got was mediocre service, and mediocre/uninspired food, which was overpriced. The service: without going into specifics, our server never cracked a smile. She said all the appropriate things a server should but with no authenticity - just running through the motions. Food service overall was also slow. The food: salads were good, but on the order of what I make at home. Crapcake appetizer was lukewarm but yummy. The biggest problem is that it was paired with the wrong sauce, like a wonton sauce - gross. Our meat entrees were good overall, but the sides were either over/underseasoned and overcooked. Wine by the glass (the zin) was also mediocre. Dessert: chocolate/butterscotch pot du creme, was just ok. Again it was a pairing issue, as the type of chocolate actually didn't work well with the butterscotch at all. Now I don't mind shelling $ out for good food - but this was not worth it. $150 spent on a mediocre meal and service. I will never go back. —lemurific
Thank you for saving me money. —KellyM
2010-04-07 17:16:15 The owners of this place are complete and utter psychotics. They are off the wall. I saw them fire a server right after she was told she was the best server in town by a table! —dasheeit
2010-05-27 12:34:20 I don't think the owners realize that guests can hear them yelling at staff in the kitchen. I also get frustrated when I am asked if I have a reservation every time I am there and the place is empty. That said, the food is very good and the setting is terrific. Service can be slow sometimes. —stodd84
2010-07-07 20:12:58 Like everyone else has already said: the food and the feel of the place is great. This, however, does not make up for the awful service you will receive here.
My family and I went here during graduation weekend, had a reservation, and was one of the first dining parties to arrive for dinner that night. An older lady, who I assume was the owner, took our order. And I wont go so far as to say that she was outright rude, but like someone else said, you get better service at McDonalds. This woman did NOT smile once, did not ask how our night was, did not bother to make ANY conversation other than what we wanted. I'm usually fine with this type of service (hey, its quick and to the point right?), but if you, like me, think that FINE dining is more than just summary execution of your order, then find somewhere else to go.
We were there for probably a good two hours, and after our initial food order, they never once came back to ask how everything was or if we needed more drinks. As such, we all finished our wine/soda/whatever, before the food actually arrived (hey, it was a hot Davis night!), and despite flagging down every waitress that walked by for a good 15 minutes, it was not until one of us actually GOT UP and went into the little exposed kitchen area that we managed to get our drinks refilled. Absurd!
2010-07-30 16:24:51 THEY DENIED SERVICES TO ME AND MY HUSBAND!!!!!! because they didn't fit my stroller!!!!! half of the restaurant was empty and the manager, cook or owner didn't even want to come out to apologize for the stupid waitress's rudeness!!! —alineSanchez
2010-09-17 11:00:12 If you are looking for great service with a smile and maybe even personality, perhaps this is not the place for you. I go there for the food. It is wonderful. I agree the wait staff is typically unfriendly. Davis is a small town with just so many really good restaurants and I will take a place with a real Chef that prepares terrific food using local, fresh, well prepared food without all the bells and whistles, over some of the others in town with great service and terrible food any day! —ashleyinthemist
2010-09-24 09:00:06 I don't normally do "upscale" dining, but my mom was visiting from out of town and wanted to give it a try (this was on 9/17/2010). We were disappointed. The waiter was over-eager and annoying. The duck was dry and the sauce was runny (definitely not worth $25). Then they overcharged my mom's credit card and when she called to complain, they told her there was nothing they could do. —karusso
2010-09-24 20:44:03 The Mustard Seed is probably the best restaurant in town. Its quaint decor, beautiful patio and wonderful service make it very special. The food is fantastic! I truly have no criticism. Kudos! —toriac
2010-10-27 01:28:08 This is my favorite place for lunch. Unfortunately, they eliminated my favorite dish, the duck salad, from the menu. No, ordinary chicken will not do for me. The Almond Tuna salad is nice too but I still hope they put the duck salad back on the menu. —bcschipper
2010-12-20 16:57:15 Admittedly, I've been rough on Mustard Seed for the service over the years. I'm one of those Townies that goes back to the days when they were a counter in Court N' Cedar. Anyway, after boycotting the restaurant due to service for the last 1.5 years or so, we finally returned for my birthday on Saturday night. The food was outstanding (duck and lamb), at pace with Tucos, as the two best restaurants in Davis. The service was noticeably better, albeit the fact that we were put on a 45-minute dinner pace even as the second seating on a moderately busy Saturday. The only, but significant, disappointment in the evening came toward the end when Robyn engaged in a conversation across the room in a booming voice proclaiming that she and Paul moved to Sacramento because Davis is awful unless you're a parent taking advantage of the schools or a university student. For those of us that pay high taxes to support the community, live on the same street as the restaurant, and fit neither of the categories, why didn't she just spit in our food? Seriously...nothing has changed...I LOVE the food, but am just scared about showing up, savoring every dish, happily spending $200, only to be verbally slapped in the face. —ScottLay
Scott, Scott, Scott. Poor bored Scott.
If you are going to eavesdrop on a private conversation, and it was, at least get it right. I never said Davis was awful. We love Davis. It's been very good to me and my family and we are very grateful. We have lived here for almost 30 years and still own a home and, of course, a business in town. I'm sure I pay more taxes than you and support this wonderful community more than you do.
I don't know what you thought you heard but it's not what you wrote here. You have been giving me a hard time for years. We know who you are. We appreciate the business but we are always surprised that you're bold enough to show your face in our restaurant after the mean thing that you have said. We have always been nice and accommodating to you and your wife, no matter what you have said. This time you have gone too far.
In the future, in other restaurants other than ours,you might consider minding your own business so that you won't have the opportunity to get things so wrong and feel "verbally slapped in the face".
As far as intimating that we would spit into any customer's food...Shame on you! That has never happened nor will it ever.
Robyn (AND Paul Bergman)
I didn't intimate that you would spit in food, and certainly wouldn't patronize a restaurant if I had any inclination that you did. And, I'm far from bored, as I only spend about 1/3 of my time in Davis while I run around the state for community colleges. That's why I just noticed this.
I have commented on, I believe, three of probably a dozen visits to your restaurant. We have returned, always buying a bottle of wine and having a full meal. I have never complained about the food, and recently told Pru that his duck wasn't up to par with yours (from this visit). Yes, Paul has always been very accommodating, be it at the restaurant or at Farmer's Market.
As to what was a "private conversation"—we were three tables away and could hear every word you said. I would swear on a divine book that you said that you "moved to Sacramento because Davis is awful unless you're a parent taking advantage of the schools or a university student." Instead of ensuring that all of your customers were having a good time, you were talking in a very loud voice about how much you no longer like Davis. That's okay, it's not the best locale for everyone. However, the private conversation should probably not be during a busy Saturday night service.
Now, what to do with this $100 gift certificate to Mustard Seed my wife just bought at a charity auction? We were thinking of taking some friends and making it a $400 dinner, but I guess we're not welcome there anymore.
Robyn or Paul, if you'd welcome us back you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Please don't think that my experience isn't shared by many other people in town, and I'm not one to disparage local business owners.
Robyn & Paul,
I don't care what Scott said or did to you. You guys are stuck up morons for writing such a condescending message to someone in a public forum. It makes you look like terrible people, which makes me never want to patronize your restaurant again, not even at the farmers market.
Scott, if you're going to feel "verbally slapped in the face" by anyone who has a complaint about Davis, you're going to have a very red face very soon. Everyone has an opinion in this town and I'm sure anyone could think of a few things they'd like to improve about this city. It was a private conversation that didn't involve you and she has a right to free speech....even on a busy Saturday night. Just my opinion, it sounds like you might be being a bit over-sensitive.