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Weird occurrence at Bouley & what they did

  • m

6 of us went to Bouley Bakery on Saturday night at 8:30. Our party was originally for 4 people, but we picked up 2 friends along the way (men, neither of whom had jackets). They said if we would wait 20 minutes, they'd happily seat all 6 of us - they said nothing about the jackets. So 2 thumbs up right there. Then we all order the tasting menu, but we ask if we can do substitutions (one of us was vegetarian, some just didn't like the 2 main courses). And they said yes, no problem (and, to my great pleasure, substituted a lobster appetizer as a main course portion). Because a number of us had been reading the whole Bouley Bakery thing on this board, we were expecting the worst. Instead, they were amazing. Okay, so it's about an hour or so into the meal. We've all been laughing, having a great time, etc., i.e. enjoying each other's company & this new restaurant experience (none of us had been to Bouley before). Oh, we hadn't been drinking much either - a bottle of wine for the whole table. Okay, so out of nowhere, this guy from, I guess, some table nearby comes up to us and says, "I've never done this before, but I just have to tell you" - at this point we're smiling and waiting for him to tell us that we're the most wonderful people to ever walk the face of the earth - "that I've never heard such loud people in my entire life. Really. You're drowning out conversation at 4 other tables. Could you please keep it down." We were, frankly, stunned. As I said, we weren't drinking, and it's not as if the restaurant was quiet - it was pretty boisterous that night. Anyway, here's the point. We eventually move on from that rude interruption, and my brother notices that same guy going up to the waitstaff 3 times throughout the rest of the evening. And the waitstaff at the Bouley did the most amazing thing. Not only did they never tell us to keep it down (and, obviously, if we really were extraordinarily loud, I'm sure they would have), but they brought us 3 FREE DESSERTS (delicious btw) and told us they were thrilled to have people there who were so clearly enjoying the restaurant experience. Anyway, I wanted to pass this on, because from reading this board, I got the impression that Bouley was stuffy. Instead, I think it's that they want you to love every minute of it there and walk out feeling like you had the greatest meal of your life, which is more than just food - it's company, atmosphere, etc. Maybe that's the key to Bouley - go for the ride and to have fun.

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  1. j
    Jessica Shatan

    See? I stand by my good experience at Bouley. Glad someone had one too. Entertaining post, BTW. I love that thanks to some whiner you got free dessert, maybe I should hire a 'plant' to complain about me next time I eat out (hee-hee)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jessica Shatan

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but every couple always gets one additional dessert on the house.If you took the trouble to look, you would have noticed that even the fellow whose evening was spoiled by your group was rewarded by Bouley's perk.

    2. Very interesting. Here's a possible twist to the story to mull over. Maybe you were, indeed being too loud. After the confrontation with the complaining neighboring diner you all quited down. The fellow, pleased with your change, had dessert brought to you guys on him...that would also explain the subsequent visits with the waiter. This scenario, far-fetched as it may seem, is possible and would change the take on the whole event. Food for thought, so to speak.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Zephyr

        I was part of the group, and we most definitely did not quiet down after our reprimand! But thanks for assuming we had good manners!

        1. re: Krig

          My question is simple: why didn't you mention something to the waiter? See what the story was with the guy? I'm sure there was a tactful way to do it.

          1. re: matt

            Why should they have to ask? They were obviously comped dessert for putting up with Mr. Stuffys' rude intrusion and celebrated for behaving like customers having a terrific, convivial meal should.

            1. re: Heidi
              r
              Robert Sietsema

              At both of my most recent experiences at Bouley, the staff was particularly gracious (once when it was crowded, the other time nearly empty), and at both, freebies were a part of the meal. Last time, when I was there with my daughter and her friend, the waiter noticed that they were enjoying their desserts, and promptly brought them two more and didn't charge. Hey, this is a nice place, and we're not used to such niceness.

              1. re: Heidi

                Just thought I would share my experiences at Bouley.

                I was there a short while (maybe a month ago), and I think practically everyone was given the coconut macaroon dessert. My party of three was given three to split, and moreover, the waiter was kind enough to provide a complimentary dessert wine to accompany our dessert selection.

                Until I found this message board, I assumed that such treatment was the norm rather the exception.

                1. re: joe

                  I don't know if there is any connection whatsoever between the original extremely long negative Bouley thread, I think it was almost a year ago, and all of the reports of wonderful treatment and free desserts, etc. at Bouley. Why I'm making this connection at all is that for two weeks during the original lambastment on these boards I copy/pasted the most negative posts to the "contact us" part of the Bouley website. I did this every day and titled the emails "in case you're interested".

                  In all likelyhood this is just delusions of grandeur on my part but I can dream, can't I?

                  1. re: Stefany B.

                    Thanks for posting that email about the incredible long string of negative posted messages for Bouley Bakery. Maybe someone now has a post-2000 dining experience there to comment on?

              2. re: matt

                I was also part of the group and we didn't even think of asking the waiter what the deal was with the other patron. I swear, we were all so "deer in the headlights" after the reprimand, we couldn't even think straight. The food was so good though, that we quickly forgot about it and, oops, I think we got loud and happy again after 5 minutes....

              3. re: Krig

                I'm not sure that was my assumption, but you're welcome anyway. I've not been convince to abandon my "theory." But anyway, I suspect this discussion, at this point, belongs on the general topics board.

            2. Matt,
              Great story. I realize you were very pleased with the whole experience, but I was wondering anyhow what did you eat and how was it.

              Thanks,
              Sandman.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Sandman

                We all had the tasting menu & it was phenomenal, even stuff I generally don't like (like venison - it was amazing). Let's see, I went for fish straight down the line. The skate was absolutely delicious as was the lobster. I was less wild about the mackerel. However, the dessert - wow! Since we all wound up getting the chocolate souffle, the waiter brought us 2 free coconut macaroons with homemade vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. I have to tell you that I regretted getting the souffle because that coconut macaroon was one of the best desserts I've ever had (and several friends at the table concurred). The other free dessert was a passion fruit tart which was amazing.

                1. re: Matt P.

                  Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. Did you tip the waiter?

                  1. re: David P

                    Of course - we loved our waiter even before he gave us all the free desserts!

                    1. re: Matt P.

                      what is with you people? The guy had a phenomenal restaurant experience and all you can ask about is if he tipped the waiter?!