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Patria: Uphill alert/warning about reservations

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Patria: Uphill alert/warning about reservations

Caseophile | Feb 6, 2004 01:24 PM

I've been avoiding Patria for a few years because the food seemed to be going downhill, and I had experienced some major problems with service. But I found myself back there last weekend.

I can report that the food I had was very good -- I'd say as good as I've ever had at Patria (I don't think I was ever there before Douglas Rodriguez left). I particularly liked the crab empanada appetizer and the monkfish main course, although another seafood empanada (I forget exactly what it was) and the shrimp main course were quite good also. All of these paired excellently with an Alsatian Gewurztraminer that I chose.

Unfortunately, some of Patria's management issues persist. I had checked Open Table earlier on the same day, and found that Patria had no available reservations before 10:30 or so. However, when I called, they happily gave me a reservation at 9. When I arrived, I noted a huge throng of people standing at the bar, apparently waiting for tables. The hostess very curtly explained to me that the people at the bar didn't have reservations, and so I wouldn't have to wait more than about 10 minutes for a table. We bought some drinks at the bar (I recommend against the mojito, which was poor), and waited a full 45 minutes, before the hostess returned and said "you're on the waiting list, right?" I replied that I actually had a reservation, to which she said something like "yes, whatever, your table is ready now."

Based on this and prior experiences, I have the impression that Patria routinely offers "reservations" to pretty much anyone who calls, at least on a weekend night, with no intention of actually seating the party at the assigned time. Instead, I have the impression that they treat people with reservations and walk-ins equally, putting them on the same list. I guess this makes good business sense. People going to Patria on a weekend night are probably looking for an upbeat good time, and may intend to have a drink before dinner anyway. So, if Patria offers you a "reservation," you'll show up at the restaurant, and once you're there, you'll probably stay for dinner regardless of the wait. Forcing diners to wait at the bar for 45 minutes increases revenue by adding the cost of a few drinks to the cost of the meal. And they're then able to pack a lot more meals into a single night.

In this particular case, I actually didn't mind waiting at all. Nevertheless, this policy could be a real problem for you if you actually thought that a 9:00 reservation means that Patria is even trying to seat you at 9:00.

I should also note that the service after we were seated was just fine. Not especially prompt, but, considering that this was Patria late on a weekend night, it was absolutely as I would expect, and at least as good as most other popular NY restaurants under these conditions.

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