Coup vs. Tanti Baci in East Village
- George Lynch
Four of us decided to have dinner in the East Village last Saturday night as we all had reason to be in the area then. We decided to try someplace we hadn't been before, so we settled on Coup, located on East 6th Street between Avenues A & B. We called Coup on Tuesday to make a reservation for 9:30 on Saturday night, and confirmed the res on Friday.
So we arrived at Coup at the appointed time only to be told that there would be at least a twenty minute wait, and would we care to have a seat at the bar. Well, the crowd at the bar was four deep, so we couldn't even tell if there were, in fact, any seats at all. I walked back to the dining area to see if it was even worth the wait and spotted a table for four sitting there empty, so I asked the hostess (who had followed me back thinking I was just going to sit myself down in any empty chair I could find) why we couldn't have that table. She replied that there were already others waiting for that table (the 7:00 PM reservations, no doubt).
My friend John asked the hostess if the 20 minute estimate was accurate and she hesitated and said, maybe more like 30 minutes. So we decided the hell with it and left.
Practically next door we found Tanti Baci, a small and inviting-looking Italian restaurant that looked like it had room for us, so we went in. We were met by a very friendly young lady who showed us to a table immediately.
When we asked for a wine list, they gave us a short listing of wines available that day and then explained that these were wines available from the local wine shop and that whatever we selected would be delivered by the shop. So we selected one Argentinian Cab and one Italian Montepulciano, and sure enough, about 10 minutes later in came the delivery guy with the bottles. Total cost, including generous tip, was $35 (payable then and there).
We ordered four appetizers (white bean salad, polenta, a potato salad and one other that I have forgotten), all of which were good (not great), but certainly reasonably priced. The main courses included my fusilli with vegetables (very, very good), my wife's linguine with vongole, and linguini with seafood, which both John and Lenore had. We thought the food was quite good, especially for the price, which came to about $85 before tip.
Afterward, we decided against dessert, and we hung at the table for a few minutes as we finished our water and wines. Then the waiter came over with a large helping of tiramisu, which he said was on the house. It was a knockout!!
So, the upshot was that our poor reception at Coup led to a very nice experience at a local place that we would've otherwise overlooked.
We were also upset at Coup for what appeared to be intentional overbooking. What is the point of taking reservations if you're not gonna honor them? If we arrived fifteen minutes late, we lose the reservations. Shouldn't there be some sort of penalty for restaurants that don't honor their reservations?
That's a shame. I've been to Coup probably around a dozen times, and haven't run into that kind of situation (I would've left too, as I can't stand waiting for a RESERVATION and I loathe crowded bars).
Had you been there before? I've found the food to be consistently great, although I haven't been there since the changeover to the fall/winter menu....
One of my colleagues asked me that on Monday when I related the story to him. They very might well be the same, but there was no indication at this one that there was another branch anywhere. I took one of their business cards and it only lists the 6th Street address.
So the mystery remains...
This was our first visit, and, unfortunately, probably our last. Actually, I'm glad to hear that your experiences were better than mine. It makes me think that what we experienced was probably and anomalie rather than their norm.
Hope your experiences there continue to be good ones...