As I carp about constantly, why are people in the hospitality business that don’t want to be hospitable? Our (ok, my) evening started off poorly with a crappy server and a crappy rule.
Him: “How many?”
Me: “There is gonna be four.”
Him: “Are you here for happy hour or dinner?”
Him: “Well you can sit at these two (small) tables and push them together if you are here for happy hour, or you can sit at those tables over there if you are here for dinner, but you can’t order from the happy hour menu over there.”
Me (not aloud): (Already silently fuming). WTF?
I let it pass, as illogical as it sounded, I was out to have a great time with Mrs. BDB and our friends Mr. Portland Deal Maker Attorney Extraordinaire, and Mrs. PDMAE.
We sat at the two small tables, pushed together, directly in line with the front door, which opened on occasionally to let cold air in, and were promptly ignored by the wait staff for the first 20 minutes we were there. They were all busy attending to a private birthday party in the bar area, for which six tables were reserved, at which four-six people were busy receiving a cornucopia of 23 Hoyt’s appetizer menu.
SIDEBAR: We like this place because they have a lengthy list of (mostly) great appetizers at very low prices, running between $1-$5. From 5-7PM, you can graze to your heart’s content, alone, on a date, or with other couples, and it doesn’t hurt all that much moneywise.
We ordered drinks, Mrs PDB with a pomegranate martini, which she had the last time, and cooed about, and I ordered a Stella (“sorry, we’re actually out of Stella”), settling for a Czech Pilsener. The drinks didn’t take very long, but the martini wasn’t the same as our previous visit, this one being heavy on the sweet side.
In the meantime, several other parties had come in, were not given the “happy hour-dinner seating speech” and were promptly seated in the “dinner area” where they just as promptly ordered from the Happy Hour menu. (Me: silently again: WTF?)
After another 15 minutes or so, we decided to plow into the happy hour menu (online here) while waiting for our friends, and started with the”Fried Almonds and Sea Salt”, “Fires and Whole Grain Mustard Aioli”, and the “Tempura Mushrooms & Ponzu”. (Ponzu is a Japanese sauce usually made with rice wine, lemon, and soy sauce.)
The fries were crispy, hot and bountiful. The mushrooms hot and battered. The nuts, not so nice as last time, when they arrived hot, slightly oily, with clumps of sea salt, this time they were cold, resembled dry-roasted poured from a can. But one bad $2 appetizer didn’t spoil my evening, of course, I’m not that curmudgeonly. (Yet).
(But I still had a hard on about the “dinner area/happy hour area thing”).
Our company arrived, and we had a grand time and fascinating conversation with them, while the “birthday party” continued to grow until it was SRO in the bar area, and the “rest of us” were definitely being ignored by the wait staff, and the party participants were jostling other diners as they walked by the tables and mingled, and our conversations were being drowned out by the party as well. (At this point, if I were a server, I would have moved us to another part of the restaurant). (Better still, I would have originally seated the birthday party on the small upper level, which is slightly off the main part of the restaurant, and would afforded all customers a modicum of space and privacy).
We plowed into a half-dozen more appys, Braised Green Beans, Roasted Beets, Steamed Clams, and a couple of burgers, the latter served with more fries, raw onion, tomato, lettuce, white cheddar resting on a brioche.
The burger, at $5, is more than OK. The brioche was a little sweeter than I prefer, but as my counterpart dining companion pointed out, it had a nice little butter char on it. He professed to liking it that way, as did I.
The tab I can’t complain about: a half-dozen plus appetizers, cocktails all around, for four people, less than $50. The waiter got an undeserved 20% tip. Hopefully 23Hoyt shares tips, so some other, more deserving server than ours benefited.
Will I return? Sure, when it’s a warm spring day, and Mrs. BDB and I can sit outside, and graze on the appetizers again, taking the good with the bad, but enjoying each other’s or some company’s conversation.
The happy hour is one of the best values in town, and is available nightly 5-7pm, except Fridays and Saturdays, 5-630p.
Well, a good value when you don’t have to factor in a $37 parking ticket, for parking behind the restaurant in a lot where the automated ticket machine didn’t work. But I’m not really factoring it in. Like I’d pay a parking ticket issued by a private party. Right.
So why did I caption this #Fail? Server attitude and a stupid seating rule, plus the poor planning management did with the birthday party.
But good company and conversation can make any poor restaurant experience a good one! Thanks for coming out to play, B & V!