Last night I hosted a dinner party for four people at Bestia. Our reservations were at 5:30 pm and we arrived about 8 minutes early. My husband was stuck on the 5 freeway and the hostess said the policy of the restaurant was to wait until all parties were present until seating us. We were not offered the option of waiting in the bar and it was strongly implied by the hostess that we would lose our reservation if we waited over long.
It was explained to us, by her, that it was the chef's preference because of the order by which the food comes out. I could understand this. We asked again if we could please sit at out table, as the restaurant was empty. We were told that we HAD to order all our food at once. So I thought I would choose some food for my husband and under those conditions, we were seated.
Then our waitress come by and tells us it's "family style". This mystified us as to why then, we had to wait for all parties to be present, if there were not set courses.
We did not want family style. If the website had mentioned this I may have chosen somewhere else. Even when we told the waitress we preferred to have our own dishes, the succession of dishes were plopped onto the center of the table.
My husband arrive ten minutes late when only a piece of crostini had come to the and was unable to order anything in addition to what I had chosen for him. The restaurant was still largely empty.
The wait staff was good, but the hostess was really rude. Her attitude shaded the evening. And this whole policy of having everyone present before seating, yet serving family style seems incredibly incongruous and contradictory. And the fact that it is compulsory is also unpleasant
My guests and I are not people unacquainted with dining. Collectively we have traveled to China, Thailand, Cambodia, Bhutan, India, Turkey, Greece, Italy (Sicily, Rome, Florence, Venice, Padua and Bologna), Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, the UK, Malta, Tunisia, Australia and Brazil. We were all puzzled by the situation.
The food was really good, but I would prefer to patronize places that are more flexible and amenable to the traffic travails people endure in Los Angeles at around 5 pm.
Everyone I know has raved about the food, but has anyone else ever been put off by this?