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TOWN…what the??

Tom P | Apr 22, 200509:16 AM

I am an LA Chowhounder in the midst of a week in NYC, visiting some old favorites and trying some new places. I intended to wait until the week was over to do a post, but I wanted to go ahead and write about our experience at Town last night, and hopefully get some perspective from local Chowhounders. I come to NYC once or twice a year, and spend the bulk of the time eating. I am a faithful customer and return again and again to the New York places I love as I don’t get to frequent them. I also like to try a new place or two each trip, always on the lookout for another restaurant to call ‘a home away from home.’

Given some of what I’d read, I was most looking forward to Town. The space was indeed dramatic, and our initial reception from the two people at the host stand was lovely. But once we were seated at the table, my partner and I were both taken aback by the service. The waitress, who admitted she was in a foul mood, could not have been less interested in serving us; it seemed a trial for her to even open her mouth, much less offer any kind of help or opinion in regards to anything on the menu. (I was reminded of a character, Hulga, in a Flannery O’Connor story. Seriously.) I thought perhaps it was just this one person, but looking around the restaurant, every busser and every other server seemed as dour. Then the sommelier came over to ‘help’ with the wine, and she was, if anything, even worse. I asked for a few suggestions after telling her the types of wine we like, wanting to try something not from California as we drink a lot of California wine at home. She sighed and gave me only one suggestion that was not very original, a California Cabernet Franc. My partner, trying to excuse everyone, speculated that perhaps they had just had some kind of bad staff meeting. I ended up trying to joke with the sommelier when she returned (she also screwed up the wine order and tried to blame me for it) and asked her if they were instructed not to smile. She just snarled a little, didn’t say anything, acted very put out for having to pour the initial tastes of wine, and never returned to the table. We had to pour our own wine the rest of the night.

I just don’t get it. The food was fine, but in no way worth the treatment. Graciousness is something this staff seems never to have been taught. When you compare the assorted staff at any of Danny Meyer’s restaurants, for instance, so warm and friendly and seemingly glad to be at your table, I can’t imagine wanting to return to such a place as Town, no matter what the food or ambiance. Understand, I am not one who wants a waiter to fawn all over me. I don’t even need a smile. But some kind of care should be evidenced from a wait staff. Last night, just a tiny hint of interest, from anyone on the floor, would have had us leaping up and down.

Of the dishes we had, the scallop appetizer was very good, and the Linzer tart for dessert was so terrific we ordered a second one. I’ll never waste my time going back, though.

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