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Grocery = Have They Turned Into Jerks? (Long!)

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Grocery = Have They Turned Into Jerks? (Long!)

Hauschka | Feb 27, 2005 01:29 PM

I was planning on taking friends out for dinner at the Grocery, and I hadn't been there in about a year and a half. I got a bad vibe from the moment I called for a reservation a month ago from the humorless woman who answered the phone, but I brushed it off, thinking it was probably my fault.

The dinner was scheduled for last night, and it occurred to me yesterday that my girlfriend should call them in advance to tell them that she's a vegetarian, even though we've gone there before and she's gotten the tasting menu and it's been fine. When she called, the guy who answered said that being a vegetarian was no problem (that's good), but if we'd planned on having the tasting menu we should have told them when we made the reservation (huh?).

She said to him that she'd never heard of such a thing before -- we should tell the reservation-taker what we planned to order before we got to the restaurant? He said yes, that's what we should have done, because our table for 6 p.m. was booked for 8:30 p.m. She said she thought if that were an issue, then whomever is taking the reservation might want to ask, because there's no way the patron would know that. He disagreed.

When we got to the restaurant, our waiter definitely knew about this phone call. He asked us right off if we wanted the tasting menu, and we said yes. (We told our friends about this situation beforehand, and agreed that 2 1/2 hours was a perfectly good amount of time, and we'd certainly get out of there by 8:30.) The owner came over to ask us about our likes and dislikes. She said that she felt like we were going to be rushed because we hadn't mentioned when we made the reservation that we might want the tasting menu. We went through the whole discussion with her, and she wouldn't budge on the question. She said they didn't want to "solicit" tasting menus. I actually understand that, but I do go to these sorts of restaurants fairly often, and this is my fifth time eating at the Grocery, and I've just never heard of this kind of thing -- the restaurant holding it against you that you didn't tell them when you called what you'd want to eat.

There was some minor passive-aggressiveness after that on her part. One of our friends is pregnant (maybe she couldn't tell that?), and she asked that there be no raw fish -- that was met by a sigh. My girlfriend doesn't like mushrooms, and there was some more sighing. She said our menu would be "a challenge." She totally hated us!

Let me end by saying that the meal was wonderful, and as we thought 2 1/2 hours was more than enough time. When the 8:30 people walked in, the waitress nervously gave us the check (I think she was afraid of our lingering) and we paid immediately and left.

I totally see that it's a tiny place and they have to deal with that stress. And I really love the food there (tasting menu only, though, I find the a la carte only average). And of course it was a fun evening. But I ask you -- has anyone experienced this weirdness at the Grocery?

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