A group of 6 of us had dinner last night at Aioli Bodega Espanol in Midtown. The service was appalling, the food mediocre at best. Our waiter barely gave us time to peruse the 4 page menu which particularly annoyed me since it was my first visit. Then he practically insisted that we all order entrees, when at least 2 at the table had made it clear that they intended to make their meal out of tapas. His comment, repeated several times, was that the appetizers (he didn't call them tapas) were very small portions, which he was right about however it didn't negate the fact that one could easily make a meal out of several appetizers. Once the food was delivered, he told us to let him know if we wanted to order more, then he left us alone never bothering to ask how anything was. Although it was clear that we were not finished with our food or wine, wait staff continued to appear at our table attempting to clear plates and glasses. And the final straw was that they added the gratuity to the bill presumably because it was a table of 6. Since I had not made the reservation nor was responsible (thankfully) for the bill, I don't know if this had been disclosed before hand and don't know if it was stated on the menu. So I guess that he felt justified in treating us as it was an imposition to serve our table since his tip was assured.
Now on to the food (I will be brief). My husband and I shared the paella with chicken, calamari, shrimp and mussels. While I am not overly familiar with paella, I found the texture of the rice to be gummy. I am familiar with the taste of saffron which was notably absent from this dish which, as did most of other appetizers that we sampled, mostly tasted of black pepper. The only appetizer that had much flavor was the mushroom ravioli but even that was not real memorable.
I will also note that although they seemed to be under great pressure to turn the table over, there were several empty tables and no one waiting to be seated.
I wonder if this place is feeling the competitive effects of so many new restaurants opening in Midtown recently. If so and this is how they respond to that pressure, I don't see how they will stay in business. I for one will never return and would never recommend it to anyone else.