I took my then-boyfriend, now husband to Blue Hill in Washington Place for his 30th birthday about 2 years ago. We had a great time - it was a fantastic meal and I was impressed with what they could do in November. Since then, we had wanted to check out Blue Hill at Stone Barn - the idea was to make a day trip of it, maybe do some antiquing and hitting up Blue Hill at Stone Barn for a 6 / 6:30 reservation.
I'm no dummy - I know they open up reservations 2 months / 60 days in advance and Saturday nights are very popular. I also know that living in downtown Manhattan, the last thing I want is a "day" trip that ends with a 9:30 dinner and a 45+ minute drive back to the city. Thus, I dutifully count the days backwards and target a mid September date. I set my reminder in my calendar to log onto OpenTable / call at the appropriate time.
I log on to OpenTable at 8:45am and check the availability. Damn! All of the early time slots are taken. (Hmm... that's weird, I never heard of tables being open so early - must be kind of odd. I think it's odd because I believe the Danny meyer's restaurants release tables at 10:00 am exactly 28 or 30 days in advance - it's a nice system, it works. )
AHA! Maybe I will try CALLING them to make a reservation - maybe there are tables that are not available via OpenTable.
Me: Hi, I wanted to inquire about a reservation for Saturday, September --- for a party of 2
Reservationist: The only availability we have is 9:30 pm.
Me: Hmm... that's rather late. Are there any tables that are not reserved via OpenTable so I can call back?
Reservationist: No, our system is connected through theirs and all of the tables can be booked on OpenTable.
Me: OK, well, do you know when the tables become available on OpenTable for reservations?
Me: But you just said that your reservation system and that of OpenTable are fully connected. How do you not know when tables become available on OpenTable?
Reservationist: I don't know.
Me: Well, you see my point - I can't figure it out on OpenTable and if YOU DON"T KNOW, who else am I supposed to ask? (I admit to getting pretty miffed at this point and sound frustrated)
Reservationist: Well, I don't know how OpenTable works.
Me: But it's YOUR reservation system that is hooked into theirs? How do you NOT know???
Me: OK, well, can you find out if I call you back tomorrow with the same question
THE RESERVATIONIST HAD HUNG UP ON ME!
I wasn't looking for special favors. I just wanted some information and it strikes me as incredibly odd that the reservationist couldn't answer a question about their reservation system. Also, and maybe I am a spoiled customer, but for someone who is likely going to spend AT LEAST $300 on a dinner for two, and spend 45 minutes EACH way to travel for dinner - well, I would have hoped for a lot more helpfulness on her part. At any rate, there are any number of fantastic restaurants in Manhattan, that it's just not worth the bother to head out there.
P.S. As a matter of principal, I'm also boycotting the Blue Hill on Washington Place.
P.P.S. I'm also frequently asked to give restaurant recommendations - I'm no longer recommending Blue Hill.
P.P.P.S. That reservationist was an unhelpful jerk.
Blue Hill Cafe
2427 Route 52, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
100 Rano Blvd Ste 8, Vestal, NY 13850
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