Whenever I hear Il Mulino mentioned, there's always the disclaimer that the food is worth the high prices and cramped quarters. I say it's not worth it and is likely to lead to a frustrating dining experience.
We had 6pm reservations last night for 4 people. Our table was in the middle of the room, sandwiched next to 3 other tables. The table is tiny and it's neccessary to jam your feet under the seat so we're not stepping on each other's toes. All of us are around 6' 3" so you know our knees will hurt by the end of the meal; but we've all dealt with it before. A lot of restaurants have tables and chairs that make you feel like you're flying coach. But I've never been jammed up against strangers in a restaurant like this in my life.
The food was very good. We all had the waiter's pick of 3 pastas and my entree of veal sauteed in champagne and cream was also very good. What really annoyed everyone was the feeling we were being hustled; a cog in a wheel that meant turning over our table as fast as possible. The waiter's assistants would bring out tasting dishes; bruschetta, sauteed zucchini, different breads, etc. Then, when we're still trying to enjoy them, they sneak or try and sneak their hands in to clear them when clearly, we were still enjoying them. And no, we weren't gourging on them, ruining our appetites and holding up the pasta course. Then the wine; maybe I'm a purist, but I like to wait till my glass is complete before a refill. In this place, they're looking to fill it after every 2 sips. That felt like a hustle. In fact, I know it was. "If we keep pouring at this rate, they'll have to by another bottle sooner or later." The whole experience was jarring and not worth the expense = $140.00 per person. The wait staff worked hard but there was no finesse. I've been served with more care by the guy selling hot dogs outside Irving Plaza after a rock show; and you know he's in a hurry trying to dish out as many $2.00 hot dogs as possible.
If you must try Il Mulino, go for lunch (as I did 5 years ago) when it's not as crazy and some natural light may get into the dining room. It was way to dark last night.
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