As we sat in a second traffic jam caused by a rush hour accident, it was clear we would be late for our 7pm dinner reservation at Restaurant Eve. We called the restaurant to let them know, and ask them to kindly hold our table. I know that some restaurants will give up your table if you are more than 15 minutes late, and I knew that we might be. The hostess assured us that would be fine, but the table is committed again at 9pm so we will need to be done with dinner by then. Fine.
We finally made it at 7:17pm. The hostess greeted us with a reminder again that they would need the table back at 9pm. Okay. And then we waited for five minutes to be seated.
Restaurant Eve has received many accolades for its cuisine, including “Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year” by The Rammy’s for its refined, locally inspired cuisine. Marian Burros, New York Times restaurant critique asserts this is the only Washington DC restaurant that can compete with New York’s finest.
Our server promptly arrived at our table with water and menus. He graciously told us the specials. The menu featured seasonal favorites such as ramps, sea-beans, morels and soft shell crabs. I ordered the Soft Shell crab with Ramps, Sea-Beans and a Bacon Puree, followed by Sweetbreads with King Oyster Mushrooms and Pickled Ramps.
The service at Restaurant Eve exudes an air of refinement. The servers wear suits with ties, and even the crumb-er is a brass broom with matching miniature dust-pan. The linens are crisp with nary a crease or fold. Through the course of our meal other diners finished their meals, and the tables were cleared and fresh linens were snapped across the table. A waiter pulled out a cordless iron, and pressed out the creases. While the next diners will surely appreciate the crisply pressed linens, the restaurant sacrificed the experience for the rest of us by this display of housekeeping.
By 8.30 we had finished our main meal, and contemplated dessert. With an eye on the time, I let our waiter know I was aware of the time restriction. “Bring us dessert and the check at the same time,” I said, knowing that this rushed type of service is not typical for such fine dining. As it turns out, the hostess had not bothered to tell our server of the next reservation, so the waiter promptly disregarded the request. By 9.10 we were still waiting for our check and I’m sure the other diners were waiting for the table.
If you ask me (and I’m sure you would have), the hostess should not have told us of the 9pm table, but instead told our waiter. We are at his mercy to make sure the timing of our dinner is expedited. We can only progress through the meal as quickly as he returns to our table for the next course.
What service oddities have you experienced at fine dining restaurants?