From: [an eater]
Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2007
To: eater complaints dept.
Subject: Waverly OUT
I am a NYC restaurant professional and would ordinarily never deign to impugn another operator, as I know how tough getting it right can be, however my experience at The Waverly Inn on Fri, Jan 19 was so infuriating that I am compelled to write in. My girlfriend and I met my friend and his wife for dinner. I know the chef, so I am admittedly biased -- that said, the food was in fact fabulous. Kumamotos fresh and delicious, crab cakes meaty, short ribs tender and flavorful, pork chop moist and great, etc.,etc. THAT said, the service and overall experience was unforgivably AWFUL. No real greeting at the door, other than looks of contempt, no offer to check coats (no coatroom apparently) no mention of when our table might be ready. The hostess was so aloof that after she took our name and grabbed menus and silently walked past us, we all shrugged and followed her into the dining room, only to have her turn on her heels and usher us back into the bar area. Apparently she was not intending to seat us after all.
Of course, how could we have known -- no one on the staff had said a word to us. We actually only waited 10-15 minutes or so for our table, which had clearly been ready when we arrived, as it had been preset for 6 and had to be broken down to accommodate our party of 4 when we approached it. The waiter, while ostensibly affable enough, was so intent on rushing us through the meal that he came back and asked FOUR times over the course of as many minutes, as we were trying to catch up with our friends about their new baby, and jobs and health, etc., what bottle of wine we wanted to order. I thought nothing of it at the time, but as the meal progressed (at warp speed) I began to understand.
Our first course arrived not five minutes after we had ordered, and our entrees were circling the runway, waiting in the hands of food runners in the other room as the bussers rushed to clear the table. Our entrees actually arrived before our appetizers had left the room. After we finished our 3rd bottle of sparkling water (there were, after all, only 4 of us) we had to decline a 4th to 3 different people, and our own waiter 3 different times. It was as if it was impossible to believe that we had no further desire for water, after drinking a mere 3/4 of a litre each, plus cocktails and a bottle of wine... then our desserts came literally seconds after we ordered them. The only things, however, that didn't appear instantaneously were our coffees, which sadly arrived just as we were finishing up our desserts.
As the food really was great and we were having fun catching up and planning our summer vacations, all of this would have been forgivable I suppose if it were not for the final few bitchslaps: our waiter dropped the check without our having asked for it (unforgivable in my mind at any restaurant, even a Denny's) and then, after having picked up our signed cc slip while we were still at the table (strike 2) he actually, and I almost can't believe I am writing this, told us to get up because he needed the table for another, larger party. We had hadn't been seated for an hour and a half... when I build reservation books I allow 2:30 for 4-tops. My friend and his wife were exhausted (new baby and all) and so shot right up, (actually apologizing to the waiter)! and my girlfriend followed suit, as she was long sick of the rough treatment, and I then too arose, perhaps too stunned at what had happened to even react.
On my way out of the dining room, adding injury to insult, another waiter and I were at loggerheads, trapped in a small passageway between tables, and to my astonishment he physically pushed his way past me; my jaw is still agape...
Finally, typifying the evenings tenor, as we were out on the street, trying to say good-bye in peace and perhaps make some sense of what had just happened to us, Jay-Z's Maybach (he was inside the restaurant) was parked in the middle of (the single lane of) Waverly Place, running, with no one in it. An unsuspecting cab had turned onto the street and was now stuck behind it, leaning continuously on his horn for it to move, apparently unaware that the Mercedes was driverlessly blocking the road.
I have been in the restaurant business 27 years, and have been dining out at all manner of establishments, from Denny's to Ducasse, since I was a lad, and have NEVER, EVER been given the bum's rush from a table. I can recall only one instance in my entire career when, on the other end, I was forced to ask for a table back from a party. They had been there nearly 5 hours, on an impossibly busy night, and still I came to the table hat in hand, apologizing profusely, offering complementary drinks at the bar for the rest of the evening, etc., etc. The Israeli Defense Minister had been waiting for their table for over an hour.
This was not that. I would not take another meal in that celebrity hellhole again if Graydon Carter had Heidi Klum feed it to me herself. In the cab on the way home, I asked my girlfriend, "Can you imagine something like that happening in, say, a Danny Meyer place?" She replied with disgust, "Danny Meyer should smack that !!#$%&* guy [Carter] in the head."
Oh, and by the way, we were somehow swatting flies away from our food the entire time; not all that remarkable I suppose except that it is 23 degrees outside. Perhaps they are breeding flies so that the guests feel even more uncomfortable and rush through their meals even faster, if that is even physically possible. I think we spent over $400 in less than 90 minutes, which by my meager math skills comes out to over $4/minute or over $240/hr, possibly a Guinness World Land-Speed Record for a restaurant dinner ... only hookers and some lawyers charge more per hour, but they at least have the courtesy to act grateful about taking your money.
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