There is a saying at Eater that goes something like, It's Just Food. There is another one, equally important, that relates to first impressions and the importance of them. To wit, have a read through these three rants that have arrived over the last week or two and ask yourself, could these 'not going back' verdicts have been finessed into 'shows potential' reports with better out of the gate experiences? As you'll see, the answer is quite clearly, YES.
1) let me tell you a story: i arrive at a voce on time for an eight pm resy. at eight thirty "dante" is telling me it will be just a moment. at eight forty five he is "setting my table". still no glasses of wine offered to me. no apologies. At nine he is seating me, the asshole. we order an unbelievably overpriced bottle of kent rasmussin chard. we order the carne crudo which was good, duck meatballs were ok, the lamb shank tortellini was decent, the grandmas ravioli was good but nothing i can't get from the frozen section at citarella. "dante" apologized for the wait and offered dessert on the house. we ordered tiramisu. was it on the house? no, it cost us ten dollars. did i balk? no, i have honor sir. the crowd? thirty five to fifty five, very weak, most appeared to be employees of the nearby csfb office. the woman next to us on a date with her trainer was dressed like a hooker. should have gone to peasant. 170.00, i feel violated.
2) I tried going to Cheeks Bakery in Williamsburg this morning. Although the store hours sign claims that it opens at 8, by 8:20, it was still not open. When I knocked on the window to inquire, the person inside gave me the "just one minute" gesture, which turned out to be misleading as she did not open the store a minute later. I ended up leaving without ever going in. How terrible when people don't open on time!
Finally, the first impression mother lode.
3) I am writing to talk about del posto-
i was in del posto last night (my second visit). We waited an hour to be seated. Last time we were there we waited 45 min. I will not be going back again. My friends who have also dined there have all said the same thing about having to wait. Mario may be a decent chef but his restaurant is not being run correctly. It has been open long enough that things should be more streamlined. He must be too busy focusing on his court battles, and food, and ignoring the front of the house. If he wants to have the first 5 star italian in NYC this has to be fixed. I dont recall ever waiting like that at Le Bernardin, La Grenouille, Danile, bouley, or Jean George. I just dont feel that Mario's restaurant with all of these problems and his food are up to the level of the truly great NYC restaurants. It is good food but doesnt touch La Grenouille or Le Bernardin.
The upside of this -- for eaters, at least -- is that there are 24,000 restaurants in NY to choose from.
This has been an Eater public service announcement. As you were.