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In defense of Tempo

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I read some less-than-stellar commments about Tempo (5th Ave., Park Slope) in this space, but decided to try it anyway. So glad I did!

First, addressing the complaints that others registered on this board:

-Wine serving size: I agree that glass service would be a good improvement. The quartini size was a little bigger than a glass (a third of a bottle, they say)--in other words, not quite enough to last through the meal, but too big (for me) to order a second. I did really enjoy the dolcetta I ordered. (sorry, don't remember the name, but it's the only one on the menu)

-Service: I thought it was perfectly appropriate. Others had complained that it was overbearing and annoying, but I found our server to be attentive, knowledgeable, honest, and not in the way.

Now, the food: We started with the goat cheese salad and the lune pasta, which were filled with a sheep milk ricotta. The warm goat cheese salad was great, the lune was pretty good, but nothing special.

Our mains were both standout: My partner had the special black bass, served atop swiss chard, which they had no problem substituting for the kale, which had meat in it. (We don't eat meat other than fish.) I had the skate, which was beautiful and delicious. The sauce was a caper/raisin concoction that complimented the fish perfectly. The cauliflower puree was heavenly. Good portion sizes--satisfied, but not stuffed.

And dessert was amazing--can't say enough about how much we loved the sticky toffee and date pudding we shared. Overall, price seemed fair - $115 for 2 ap.s, 2 mains, 2 quartinis of wine, and 1 dessert.

Owner made sure to chat with us and thank us too, which I appreciated as a nice neighborhood restaurant touch.

We'll definitely be back.

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  1. What wonderful food, what terrible customer service, they may have high chairs and booster seats but children are not welcome. My family just had a delicious thanksgiving dinner at Tempo, we often eat holidays out, and don't expect good service (or food) on such occasions so we were happy for the fine fare. The customer service was another story, we were forced (literally forced) to give up our coats before entering the dining room. The catty host explained that they were seating 300 people and that there was no room for coats, that they created a hazard for the staff and that the dining room was quite hot. Well we went to our table in the FREEZING dining room without any coats, only to retrieve them (and wear them) from the coat check girl when the host was looking away to avoid further confrentation on the matter.

    My toddler was excluded from the reservation so the table had been set one seat short and had to be expanded and re-set, a source of frustration for the staff for which we were blamed.

    We spent some time on the front window bench with another toddler and mother that had been chased about the premises by said host who was unable to contain his intolerance and displeasure at having children on the premises, he scowled as the children played and we shared our common plight. But it is undeniable, once again the food was amazing even on the holiday.

    1. It's one of our favorite restaurants and we've always been impressed with the food. However, even though the room is larger than most Brooklyn places, they definitely are going for a different feel then say, Applewood (another excellent food place with a vastly different approach). I think you hit it on the head... it's basically an adult dinner with conversation place and not particularly child friendly. I'm glad you could see thru the issues and still recognize the quality of the food. For us, and our friends, it's a perfect place for a relaxed, adult dinner without being cramped in or having to be too folksy. And Robert is a charming guy when not under stress, as I'm sure having children around does to him. Both he and the other non-chef owner, Michael (who's now mostly at the Tempo Presto places), are ex-River Cafe and seem to want to go more in that direction. They stake out much the same turf that Saul does on Smith St. The third owner, chef Michael, has had his family there when we've dined and everyone doted on their cute baby, who seems to fit right in. What can I say? Glad you liked the food... sorry about the rest. Happy holidays.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve R

        Nothing like replying to oneself. At any rate, we went last night (sick of leftovers) and had a great 3 hour meal, from cocktails to grappa and cheese plate. I decided to look around and check out who else was there during the entire evening. One infant (under 6 mos.), mostly asleep, part of a large table of 8; 2 or 3 10-12 year olds, part of their own family gatherings, all reserved/quiet types. The place was pretty full, both rooms and everyone else was of an adult age, whether acting it or not. By the way, the pork bresaola (relatively new on the printed menu) was outstanding.

        1. re: Steve R

          I have to disagree. We were there with our son, who was 18 months at the time. The staff from the manager down to the servers and busboys were all great and had no problem with him. The service in general was excellent, as was every dish we tried.

        2. We have always found the food at TEMPO to be excellent, and the service to be professional, correct, and inobtrusive.

          At those prices, with the menu they offer, it is not really a place for children, especially babies and toddlers. Out of consideration to the owners and servers and other diners, who are geared up for a more sophisticated adult dinner/conversation experience.

          1. I never had a huge problem with Tempo really but it just doesn't seem to fit in with the neighborhood. I had dinner at Tempo once...my girlfriend and I were kind of hungry, it was later on a Saturday night (around 10) and we were too late to get a table at A Di La. We had some appetizers and an entree at Tempo.

            If I remember correctly, the pasta dishes looked quite large and looked more appetizing than the pork chop that I had as an entree. The food was good enough but it felt too proper and stiff for the area. The owner was extremely nice and friendly as was the staff...but it just didn't click with me.

            I think the restaurants of Brooklyn are continuing to determine what angle they are going for. If Tempo has decided that it wants to be the only upscale place in the slope, then fine but it doesn't work for me. I'm more on an Applewood guy...amazing food, comforting environment, competent service.

            PS...anyone notice that Tempo Presto's 7th Ave branch has pretty bad service? They keep messing up my orders.

            1. I think the food at Tempo is kind of uninspired; I've gone there when I wanted to make sure I was at a big attractive place where the food wouldn't offend anyone. It feels like a grownup restaurant, not a little storefront operation. But I think if you're going to serve Thanksgiving dinner, obviously an event that's going to attract families (which tend to include people of all ages), you have to be prepared to accomodate kids and even to pretend to be glad they're there. If you don't want to do that, then just don't serve dinner that night.

              1. Interesting post--UNINSPIRED is the exact word I would use to describe Tempo. The food is fairly consist-good-not spectacular. For such a large space, I think the menu is on the small side--would love more options. Service is always pleasant/efficient-maybe a tiny bit oh glum/passionless? Certainly beats the service at Stone Park.
                Yes-I wish A Di La were open later too.
                300 people for thanksgiving dinner in such a large space is not a big deal-Blue Ribbon serves 300-400 every weekend night easily. I think Tempo is probably not particulary kid friendly--just by its appearance. And that is their choice-and it seems the poster had a nice meal though?