We had reservations at BLT Steak at 8:45 last night with another couple in from out of town. One of our friends had been to the BLT Steak in New York and loved it - and he's a professional pastry chef who has worked in high end restaurants for something like 15 or 20 years including about 10 years in New York. My husband and I arrived early so we decided to get a drink at the bar. We proceeded to stand around trying to get the attention of the bartendress for what seemed like 15 minutes before she finally decided to look at us. Maybe we weren't cute enough, who knows. The bar was slammed with only two people actually tending bar, the others seemed to be fixing platters from the raw bar which is inset into the bar at the front (window) side, not a great setup. My husband finally succeeded in placing our drink order, while I went outside to greet our friends. We notified the hostess that our entire party was there, this was still before our reservation time. We adjourned back to the bar so our friends could get drinks. Same problem, only this time the bartendress said she'd be helping another party first since they were there first, fine, but she proceeded to help some other people who were there after us. The hostess came around to show us to our table - only five minutes after our reservation time, so they do get credit for honoring the reservation on time.
Once at our table our server showed up right away with menus and took drink orders for our friends, then we proceeded to wait and wait and wait. The server came back around and said it'd be a few more minutes on the drinks. By that time we were already sick of literally having to scream at each other to be heard, and highly irritated about our bar experience, so one of our friends had already checked on his iPhone about the possibility of a later reservation at Craft. We told the server to cancel the drink order for our friends and we'd be leaving, just to bring us the check for the two drinks we'd managed to procure at the bar.
The manager showed up within a minute and asked what was wrong, we explained what happened with the bar, that they appeared to be severly understaffed in that area, and that it was way too loud for us to be able to enjoy our dinner. He asked if any of us had been to the BLT Steak in New York and we said yes, one of us had, and he's the one who wanted the reservation at BLT Steak in L.A. because he liked the meal in New York so much. The manager said they were trying to emulate that scene. Whatever. I've eaten at many, many restaurants in New York over the years and would be hard pressed to think of a situation where I got so pissed off within such a short period of time. We just said we'd pay for our two drinks and be on our way. Obviously they wouldn't have any problems filling our table. He said he was sorry and that the drinks were on the house (at least he did the right thing there). My husband had already tipped the bartendress so we just got up and headed over to Craft where we had a lovely and much more civilized experience including cocktails in one of the cabanas as it was a wonderfully warm evening. Somehow I don't think we'll be heading over to BLT Steak again even though the popovers and the stack of onion rings looked pretty good.