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Fiamma -- Great Meal, But What's With the Wine List? (long)

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Fiamma -- Great Meal, But What's With the Wine List? (long)

JGS | Apr 27, 2003 01:12 PM

Based on recommendations from this Board, I had a wonderful dinner at Fiamma the other night. It didn't start great -- we were running a bit late, so I called to explain that we'd be arriving around 8:15 for an 8:00 reservation. I was told, rudely, that they would hold the table for 15 minutes only, that they were fully booked for the evening, and that if we were more than 15 minutes late we would lose the table. I understand restaurants operating on a tight schedule, but the rudeness was uncalled for. Moreover, at 9:45, when we were 2/3 the way through the meal, I looked around and half the tables in our vicinity were empty (and remained that way the rest of the evening). So why did it matter that we were 15 minutes late, exactly?

Anyway, after that rough start things improved dramatically. There was a small mix up when we were being seated, which took them all of 30 seconds to correct, but they still insisted on giving us two glasses of wine to compensate. The room was beautiful and the service generally friendly. And the food was terrifc -- highlights included the oxtail pasta (yummmmm), the veal and the steak. Fantastic sauces, and they do some wonderfull things with mushrooms there. My friend and I were licking our plates clean.

The only other downside, and a not insignificant one, was that the wine list was heavily skewed to the expensive end. There appeared to be few options under $100, and most bottles were much more expensive than that. I've had the good fortune of eating at many "high-end" restaurants in NY, but I've rarely seen a wine list like that. To compound the problem, when we asked one of our servers to help with the selection (a woman who was otherwise very helpful and friendly), she immediately recommended a $1,100 bottle, without first asking about our price range. When we told her that was WAY out of our league, she started recommending $300+ bottles. We finally settled for a $125 bottle; it was fine, but to my unsophisticated palate tasted no better than many $60 bottles I've had elsewhere. The wine exactly doubled the cost of the meal, and the experience left me with a bit of a bad "taste."

All in all, this is sounding more negative than I intended -- the good of this place far outweighed the bad, the food was fantastic, and I'll definitely be back. But next time I'll probably order drinks by the glass.

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