I guess I'm going to reveal myself for being some low-class hick, and I have nobody to blame but myself for what happened last night and I got what was coming to me. But my experience with Obelisk last night was devastating and I'm still so upset about it I want to punch my computer.
I made reservations for dinner for two to celebrate my one year dating anniversary with my girlfriend. It was a huge night for us, one that we have been counting down to, and therefore I felt more than a little bit of pressure to pull off a great evening. I had been planning various details of the evening for weeks--the flowers, the gift, etc. But dinner at Obelisk was the centerpiece of the evening and something I knew would be just amazing.
Well, when we arrived, we were turned away. I had not called to reconfirm the reservation. I guess I was supposed to. I guess if I was really thinking through all the details, making that call should have been one of them. My only defense is that I had one of the craziest weeks at work of my life, barely had time to breathe the entire week, was feverishly trying to wrap up numerous projects all day yesterday, and barely had time to use the restroom yesterday, let alone call the restaurant to reconfirm. I mean, I had a reservation--why would I need to make it again? Honestly, I just plain didn't consider the idea that we might not have out table when we arrived.
When we got home, they had left a couple of messages, but I didn't check my home machine during the day--I never do. The voicemail said that since they couldn't reach me they assumed my plans had changed. It goes without saying that right now I can't think of a better demonstration of the old adage about what happens when you ASSUME. My girlfriend is wonderful, she rolled with it and smiled and told me that wherever we went would be great. But, of course, that wasn't the point. In a nutshell, it was an incredibly humiliating experience, not made any better by the hostess offering us a cozy spot at the bar (a counter-top in the hallway between the kitchen and diningroom). Being sent away into the freezing cold as the diners around the room watched us leave; not being accomodated even as we looked around the room at several tables that had not yet been filled; standing on the freezing sidewalk on our anniversary, at the prime dinner hour without a reservation on Friday night. It was humiliating; just plain devastating.
We salvaged the evening by running across the street to Pesce and having a lovely meal there. The always-warm service I've received at Pesce in the past was somehow magnified last night and I was incredibly appreciative of how attentive they were. It was just a dinner, and life will go on, and there are far worse problems in the world than getting tossed on your ass on a night when you were intending to celebrate. And again, I guess I was supposed to reconfirm and didn't, so I have nobody to blame but myself. And you'll probably all read this and shrug that I'm a rube who got what was coming to him. However, with that said, I still find their policy appalling because there are numerous reasons why someone might not have the opportunity to make that reconfirmation call, many people go to Obelisk for special occassions and anticipate it for weeks, and when Obelisk assumes that the person in that situation made other plans and that assumption turns out to be wrong, the result is that you flat out humiliate your patron. I know its a prize table, but there has to be a better way of handling a reservation system.
My greatest regret going forward is that I will never have the opportunity to enjoy what I have always heard is one of the great meals in DC. Because after last night, I will never, ever, ever, EVER set foot in the place again. Not a chance.